Not to mention the great deals you can get at places like 100 Yen Sushi restaurants and at Supermarkets when it’s the end of the day. Sushi aside, there are countless other examples of deliciousness that make Japan a wonderful place to live: Sashimi, tempura, katsu, curry-pan, yakisoba, udon, gyoza, sake, plum wine… The list could go on forever.
7/11, Lawson, Family Mart… they’re just so… convenient! Want to buy some milk? Get some snacks or a light dinner or a large dinner or some toiletries? Want to pay an electricity bill? Want to send a parcel? Buy recycling labels for oversized rubbish? Literally, your daily needs are totally catered for. Not to mention the fact that at any one of these establishments you can buy a quality, freshly-ground cup of coffee for 100 Yen. Magic.
Nowhere in the world is 100% safe, but Japan comes pretty close. A young white female such as myself can walk around the town centre in the middle of the night and feel completely at ease. I often see bike parks full of unlocked bicycles. When paying for something in a shop, I have no qualms about leaving my wallet on the counter for a second while I fumble around in my bag. Crime happens from time to time, of course, but Japanese cities are still ranked as some of the safest in the world.
Aside from the fact that Japanese people are naturally friendly and polite, the service industry here is phenomenal. People will go completely out of their way to help you, even if it’s not in their job description, and all with a smile on their face and at least a dozen honorific bows. The average person feels like royalty every time they speak to someone in the service industry.
Never in my life have I seen such good value for money as seen in the 100 Yen store. 100 Yen (£0.53/$0.81/€0.74) can buy you: a new notebook, a packet of biro pens, a china plate, a set of decorated chopsticks, two packets of seeds, fancy biscuits, a jumbo packet of crisps, a hairbrush, gift items, sewing supplies, slippers, small pots and pans, picnic blankets, a bike lock, electrical wires, make-up… anything you want, anything you need (or even things you had no idea that you needed, like an orange peeler! Who knew I needed that?) It’s pretty much my favourite shop in Japan.
What can I say? They’re clean. They’re well stocked with toilet roll. They provide cleaning chemicals in case you want to give the throne an extra polish. The seats are toasty warm in the winter. There are all sorts of cleansing options for those opposed to loo roll. They sing and emanate the sound of softly flowing water… using the toilet in Japan is like entering a world of hygienic calm.
The National Health Insurance is one of Japan’s greatest assets, and it’s only the beginning. Any sort of official paperwork that you need to get done will be completed in a jiffy. Utility bills are good value, and public transport services are usually well run, fair in value and oh so convenient.