The Friendly Faces of Japan (and some pets)

The friendly faces of Japan

If there’s one thing that we’ll never forget from our time in Japan it’s the people. Always helpful and friendly, they go out of their way to make you feel welcome as a visitor.

This photo essay covers the many friendly faces we met along the way. You’ll also see some dogs and cats. I don’t think we’ve ever seen pets as spoiled as Japanese pets.


Japanese students, Kyoto (1)

School group. If you’re a foreigner wandering around you’ll probably encounter them at some point. “Can we speak to you?” they’ll ask. Accompanied by a teacher they’re just trying to practice their English. In a few sites you might find yourself stopped several times…we always made time for the kids though.


girls in kimonos, Kyoto

You’ll also see a lot of girls wandering around in kimonos, especially in Kyoto. They’re tourists, most from other parts of Japan and wandering around in kimonos seems to be the thing to do. There are lots of stores where you can rent a kimono for the day.


Harajuku girls, Tokyo

Harajuku Girls in Tokyo. You’ll find them in the Harajuku section of the city, an area known for its funky fashion.


man and baby, tokoyama

Father and son in the small town of Tokayama, in Central Honshu.


pretty Japanese, kyoto

More kimonos in Kyoto. This photo was taken just outside the Tenryu-ji temple near the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest.

Our List of Must see Places in Kyoto


Tea ceremony, Tokyo

 Our host for the Tea Ceremony at the Keio Plaza Hotel, Tokyo.


vendor in Tokyo

Vendor in Asakusa, Tokyo


Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo

 Friendly attendant at the Tokyo Skytree, Asakusa.

 Asakusa and Ueno – why everyone should visit Northern Tokyo.

meiji shrine, Tokyo

girl, meiji shrine, tokyo

Above photos: the Meiji Shrine, one of Japan’s most popular shrines and many people come here for various festivals and ceremonies. We were here in November and got to see young girls and boys celebrating Shichi-Go-San, a traditional rite of passage for three and seven-year-old girls and five-year-old boys.


People with their Pampered Pets

We’ve never seen as many dogs and cats dressed up in cute little outfits or being transported around in baby carriages or carried in people’s arms. A little over the top? Yes, maybe…

girls and dogs, ueno park, tokyp

lady and dog, Japan

man and dog in tokoyama, Japan 2

cats, ueno Tokyo

lady and her dog, Japan

man and dog in tokoyama, Japan


More People Pics

girl, ueno park, Tokyo

Performer in Ueno Park, Tokyo.


geisha, kyoto

 Girl dressed as Geisha,  Higashiyama district of Kyoto.


kids in Kyoto

 Kids will always be kids, even if all dressed up in kimonos.


in front of Matsumoto Castle, Japan

Characters outside Matsumoto Castle, Matsumoto (Central Honshu)


cook in restaurant, kyoto

Cook in Kyoto restaurant.


girls in Kyoto

Colourful kimonos at the Kiyomizu-dera temple, Kyoto.


store vendor, kyoto

Vendor in Kyoto.


posing in kimonos, kyoto

Girls in Gion district, Kyoto.


friendly people, Japan

 Above left: loved that dog, friendliest bulldog I’ve met.            Above right: Man who befriended Lissette while I was off climbing somewhere.


kimono girl, kyoto

Another pretty girl with kimono in Kyoto.


Japanese students, Kyoto (2)

More school kids. They were from a small town outside Osaka (photographed at the Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto).


robot, kanazawa station

Robot and kid at main train station, Kanazawa (Central Honshu). 


sake lady, tokoyama

Vendor at Sake store in Tokayama.


asakusa, Japan

Friendly passerby in Asakusa district, Tokyo.

some kind of procession, kyoto


Japan is an easy country to photograph people – taking photos is the national sport and the Japanese don’t seem shy when asked. Photo credit to Lissette, she’s great at taking photos of people. Every single photo up above is hers.

Thank you Japan for your incredible hospitality and helpfulness. Your people make Japan a very special place in our hearts.


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  1. I love the vibrantly colorful kimonos and now I want one…lol! It’s great to take photos of monuments and landscapes but my favorites are always of street scenes and people. I also saw a similar pet culture in Thailand. At the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok there was a whole alley devoted to pet accessories!

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      We probably don’t have enough posts on people. But I agree, looking at all those photos brings back memories, more so than just landscape shots.
      I’ve never noticed it in Thailand but will keep an eye out the next time.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. We found that to be true as well. The Japanese love being photographed and they all seem to hold up the peace sign. We didn’t see a whole lot of pampered pets, but then we weren’t looking. We did however notice there were few little children..very few..which l liked :-).
    Kemkem recently posted…Awesome Urban Graffiti In Colorful Wynwood District of MiamiMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Yes, I know you don’t like those snot nosed little runts Kemkem. They have a real demographic problem in Japan and I’m not sure how they’ll handle it going forward since they don’t really have much immigration.
      Anyway, nice people the Japanese.

  3. Laughed out loud at the cats in the hats in the stroller photo and had my heart stolen by whatever that big fluffy white dog was with the huge round head! We found that the peace sign was ubiquitous throughout Central and South America, even in small villages, when we traveled through there and looks like its common in Asia too. Loved all the people photos which just seemed to capture the spirit of Japan. And you’re right, the Japanese are photogenic as all get-out!
    Anita recently posted…Lent and Semana Santa in Antigua, Guatemala: Alfombras, Christ Floats and ProcessionsMy Profile

  4. A lot of great smiles! and I love the Cos Play!
    Gaz recently posted…Gary Arndt – 119 countries … and over 300 UNESCO World Heritage Sites!My Profile

  5. what a wonderful selection of photos Frank! Love them!! So many wonderful smiles!
    Andrew Boland recently posted…On the Buses – BoliviaMy Profile

  6. We always struggle taking people photos when we’re travelling, mainly because we don’t have the balls to just go and ask, and also because we don’t like to intrude. But Japan seems to be THE perfect place for snapping away, didn’t realise it was such a friendly culture, and I think even we would manage a few photos (although have to say Lissette, your pics are ace, so don’t think we’d trump them!). As I mentioned before, Japan has never really been on our horizon, but having been following your experience, it’s actually moved up a few places on the list. So thanks for opening our eyes a little.
    Heather Cole recently posted…A stay on a tea estate in Sri Lanka – Governor’s Mansion reviewMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks so much Heather, I’ll pass on the kind words to Lissette. She has a way of engaging people that is completely natural to her that I can’t do. That’s why I do the landscape pics 🙂

  7. What delightful photos! And such lovely smiles :-). Not surprising that they love their pets (isn’t Japan home to the pink “hello kitty” fad?) In Myanmar, we also took photos of the smiling faces of the local people — we found them to be very friendly too. Some with cell phones also liked taking pictures of us as “Caucasian tourists” as we were a bit of a rare oddity in some more off-the-beaten-path places :-).
    Sand In My Suitcase recently posted…Why stay at the Grace Panama? How about bubbly and boutique style?My Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      We actually expected some of that in Japan because we’ve met Japanese overseas who’ve wanted to take our photo – but funny enough it never even once during our 7 weeks in Japan. I guess our Western faces no longer a novelty!
      I can believe they’d be curious in Myanmar. The other place I remember them being very curious (actually very annoying) was in Sumatra when I was there back in 2004. I almost wanted to lock myself in my room.

  8. What a lovely photo! In those picture they are looking very beautiful. It is not surprising that they love their pets. The Japanese are always friendly and helpful. Last time when i was going to japan as a visitor they treat me as a friend. I became wonder when i saw some Japanese with their pampered pets. I had never seen before that. They are actually fond of pets.

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