Things in Japan I Do Miss

plroybalStarred Page By plroybal, 18th Jul 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Asia>Japan>Tokyo & Around

I've written "Things in Japan I Don't Miss", now let's take a look at a more positive note: things in Japan I loved, and can't wait to see/experience again.

The People

Although the Japanese culture has its faults (what culture doesn't?) there's something I really do love about Japanese people - they are very enthusiastic, and very sympathetic if you get ill. In my country, if someone gets a cold, most of the time their friends and family will tell them to suck it up and go to school or work anyway, or half-heartedly hand you the tissues. In Japan, you say you have a cold and everyone seems genuinely concerned. They'll give you advice, such as what to eat and drink and to rest a lot, and they'll even offer you medicine if they have some. It comforted me a lot that people cared when I was sick, even if they didn't know me that well. Additionally, when I talked about my hobbies or things I've done in the past, they'll be genuinely interested and impressed, even if what I said wasn't really that interesting. It's a very sweet aspect of Japanese culture that I'll miss very much.

Japanese Food

Ramen, onigiri, tempura, udon... the list goes on. You just can't find proper Japanese food in the UK - even the best Japanese restaurants at home aren't the same. I often find myself craving ramen during the cold winter months, and wanting to grab an onigiri - a snack-size rice ball - on the way to class or work. However, at the same time, I often craved my own country's food whilst I was in Japan - maybe I'm just hard to please.

Convenient subway system

The Tokyo subway system is one of the most convenient and punctual systems in the world. It's super easy and fast to get anywhere in Tokyo by train, it's not too expensive, and it's not too difficult to figure out. Everything is signposted clearly, most of the stations are clean, and English is available almost everywhere. Although rush hour can be stressful, I miss jumping on the Chiyoda line to get to Yoyogi park, and the cheap Yamanote Line getting me to down-town Tokyo in less than half an hour. It took a while to get used to my small. subway-less English home town.

Safety

It was amazing that Tokyo is one of the highest populated cities in the world, and yet the crime rate was impressively low. I felt perfectly safe wandering around at night, and I didn't often hear about murders or theft in the city. Of course crime happens, but comparing the crime rate between other major cities, the data speaks for itself.
Of course, it's important to take into account that there is a lot of underground crime in Tokyo, mainly caused by the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia. However, these hardly affect normal citizens, especially tourists and exchange students.

Cleaniliness

Despite the fact that there are hardly any trash cans, Tokyo is beautifully clean in most places, including the parks, the subway system and the shopping areas. I'm not sure if it's a general respect for the environment or more litter pickers, but I have a feeling it's a bit of both. People would just rather carry their trash around with them before they find a place to throw it away before carelessly chucking it on the floor, and I think that's brilliant. I personally despise littering, and Tokyo certainly proved the benefits of caring about the disposal of waste.

Japanese futuristic toilets

Although I ranted a bit about traditional toilets, a fully updated toilet in Japan is nothing short of awesome. The most complex will play music for you, open and close the lid automatically, self-flush, wash your bottom and 'bidet', and play a flushing sound to drown out embarrassing noises. They're brilliant. You can even set the temperature for the small jet of water that washes your behind, and the volume of the music. These toilets can mostly be found in hotels, universities and sometimes a high-class restaurant - you're more likely to find the less charming traditional Japanese toilet in parks, subway toilets and public bathrooms.

Anime merchandise is cheap and common

Although I was never a huge anime and manga fan, I couldn't help being impressed by the huge amount of figurines, posters, plushies and other merchandise being sold in honour of popular anime such as One Piece, Pokemon, Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist and many more in the wild and bright 'Electric Town', Akihabara. They're all reasonably cheap and plentiful - my roommate had over a hundred anime figurines before she left Japan, and often eagerly compared hers with the other students. As someone who only really watched Pokemon as a child and not much else, I thought the figurines were extremely cool, but didn't buy much. For the anime fan though, the merchandise in Akihabara are definitely worth a look.

My homestay family

Toyo University kindly arranged for us to spend a weekend with a Japanese family in Gunma, which is just north of Tokyo. I believe I hit the jackpot when it came to the Tamura family - they were sweet, thoughtful, kind, their house was huge, 'mama' cooked awesome food, and they took me to places and did things I most certainly wouldn't have experienced if I hadn't met them. They were so lovely I went to see them several more times during my study abroad year, and I plan to visit them again n the future. It was certainly a window into Japanese culture and Japanese family life - and as they didn't speak much English, my language skills improved dramatically whilst staying with them, which was icing on the cake.

Every country has its downsides, but Japan is one of my favourite countries and I can't wait to go back there. Follow people's recommendations, advice, be open-minded about the food, language and culture, and you'll do just fine in the Land of the Rising Sun.

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Comments

author avatar spgreaney
29th Jul 2013 (#)

I've heard about the cleanliness aspect of the country. I think the media play a part in the image we have of all countries. I bet the people in many of those places are lovely.

Thanks for sharing your view of Japan.

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author avatar egavin
26th Sep 2013 (#)

Loved your article. I've lived in Japan for four years and still have a significant other there. I so want an automatic toilet in our house in the states! And the face masks for being sick...

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