I’ve noticed a lot of bloggers doing lists recently..favorite things, things they hate, things that bother, etc. So, I thought why not jump on that bandwagon with my own list of things.
We have lived in Japan just over a year now and are stilling loving it completely so I will give a list of things I love about Japan (in no particular order):
1. The vending machines here are awesome! In the winter they are stocked with hot beverages like different coffees, teas and hot chocolate to corn chowder. In the summer they are full of cold drinks such as water, lemonade, different sodas,green tea and flavored milk. For 120 – 150 yen you can grab a quick drink just about anywhere in town. They are stationed all over the place. I’ve also heard at some train stations you can get a cup of ramen and other such quick meals but I haven’t come across those machines yet.
2. The train system. Incredibly efficient though not truly spacious enough to accommodate the population. The trains in Japan are fairly easy to figure out and if you have trouble asking a local person or someone working at the station will quickly get you going where you need to. Though this will get expensive for large families, it is incredibly reasonable for the two of us. If it were somehow possible to double the trains during peak hours this would be an awesome system.
3. The people. I categorize the Japanese population into these four groups: a) sweet, helpful, friendly and often curious b) keep to themselves, don’t make eye contact, fake sleeping to avoid the rest of the world c) quietly disapproving, wish we weren’t interrupting their world, not so subtly move away from us gaijin or d) the rarely seen aggressive and pushy. We passed two older gentlemen in the train station yesterday who were in an altercation. One was holding the others hands up and pushing him, yelling things. It was quite unusual to see and surprised us. We kept walking and I do wonder how that ended.
4. The people part 2. It is incredible to me to see how quickly people get around here when considering the crowd of humans, strollers, dogs, suitcases and backpacks that one has to navigate. In New York people would be yelling at each other and shoving. Here, mostly people just keep moving. If there is a huge crowd, it still moves. I’ve rarely been stood still because of a crowd.
5. The food. Of course I have to mention the food. It’s so interesting, tasty, healthy, well constructed, well presented, thoughtful and considerately offered. I’ve never seen things plopped on a plate here, they are designed and every dish is beautiful in some way. I had beef tongue Friday night, it was good! Oh and it’s not just Japanese or Asian food here, this is a bit of a melting pot for the culinary world. There are famous chefs with restaurants here and a lot of different ethnic places. Craving something specific? It can be found. There’s Cajun, Soul Food, Mexican, Italian, Hawaiian, Brazilian, English/Scottish and Iris Pubs, American burger and steak houses, KFC and TGI Fridays, Chicago style pizza, Indian Curry and more.
6. Convenience stores. The quick stop places like Family Mart and 7/11 are fantastic. They have hot food, prepared food they will heat up for you, salads and sandwiches, all freshly made and all have an eat by date that is usually 1-2 days. Great and unusual snacks, candies and drinks. You can buy event tickets too.
7. Things to do. There’s so much to do, a lot of it outdoors and in nature but also great indoor activities and just the shopping alone is enough to fill the time. I will be shocked if I ever say “I’m bored” in the 3 years I’ll be living here. It hasn’t come from my mouth so far.
8. The View. On a clear day, looking the right direction (duh) and if you are a few stories up in a building from just about anywhere on this Island you can see Mt. Fuji. How cool is that?
9. No tipping. Mostly I actually like this custom because for the most part people really take pride in their work and service to others. The only time I really have a hard time not tipping is when I feel they have given exceptional service, I want to thank them. Apparently, the thing to do here is to bring a box of chocolates to them to thank them (and something for the rest of the workers too so as not to be rude). I need to get into doing this I suppose.
10. We live on base with an American salary and don’t pay local taxes or live in local houses. From what I gather most homes in town have no insulation and few have a/c-heat, if they do it’s room units. Although I think I would assimilate if we ended up in town, I do acknowledge that I’m a bit spoiled living in housing. Taxes are about to go up in Japan which means costs of food, goods, etc will also increase. Those living on a tight budget will definitely feel the pinch so our being on a U.S. salary has it’s benefits. Much respect to the people earning local salaries and living in town.
Those are the big points so far. I hope to add easy traveling to other countries to this list. We will start expanding out to visiting other places close by to include: Guam, The Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia and possibly more if we can work it out.
What do you love about where you live?
All photos are linked to their source.