Perhaps you’re familiar with all of the points below, and some of you may even have similar experiences in your home country or have experienced it in other places all around the world. So what’s the difference?
The answer is, Japan have turned these ideas into a whole new (and sometimes more extreme) level which can be difficult to compete with. However, please note that this list is based purely on my own personal experiences as an international student who has been living here for over three years!
The most obvious aspect that seems to pop up whenever Japan is mentioned in conversation is the ever impressive anime and manga dominating the world with its hype! Not only because anime and manga originated in Japan but also because of the original ideas, concepts, and mindset of the Japanese people that contributed in turning anime and manga a success within Japan and all around the world!
People even go to conventions purely to get the opportunity to meet people that have the same passion as theirs, and dress up in cosplay costumes of their favorite characters!
Japan is also well-known for its technology, products, and of course, their enterprises too. This also relates to some of the other aspects that are listed here (that you will see shortly), such as vending machines, trains, and even the …toilet! Japanese started from very simple things such as the CD player, the portable version of it, the digital camera, Blu-Rays, flash memory, and of course the amazing trains! Recently, they have also become very successful with robots too.
The Japanese love their vending machines! You can find more than soft drinks inside these vending machines: all kinds of beverages from tea, coffee, and even milk or energy drinks, are packed into paper boxes, cans, and bottles.
You’ll also be surprised at what you can actually buy, not just drinks to quench your thirst, but even your hunger too with packaged food available and ready to rescue your stomach! There are a variety of choices from bread, instant noodles, as well as canned soup, canned fried rice, and even stew meals! And of course, it only takes a minute to warm your canned meals up.
Surprisingly as an island nation, Japan has the fastest trains in the world, the bullet train (shinkansen). To be honest, when I first arrived in Japan, I was confused because there were so many different kinds of trains based on their speed, interior, and various names! From the bullet trains, limited-express ‘sonic’, ‘Nozomi’ to the shinkansen, they are never late and run faster than any other trains in the world!
Besides its punctuality, Japan’s public transportation are the cleanest, most frequent, and most comfortable forms of public transport that I have ever seen!
Impressive transportation goes with punctuality, since being immersed into the Japanese culture, I have noticed that punctuality is one of the most important things. It shows good respect, politeness, manners, and so on. With many Japanese people, 5-10 minutes early is considered on-time in any appointment or meeting. Sometimes, the Japanese take their punctuality so seriously that you’ll even get a proof of lateness slip from the railway operator if the trains are running even a few minutes late so you can show your boss at work to excuse yourself for being late to work!
Can’t you tell with some of the most popular video games that have been released recently? Final Fantasy XV, Street Fighter V, or the Splatoon and Pokken Tournament? What’s the common theme among them? They’re all Japan’s exclusive game titles and franchises! The best video game companies of all time are also based in Japan, from the legendary Nintendo and Sega to the much liked Sony and Square Enix.
Also, I can’t deny the hype of the Call of Duty Black Ops 3 or the Fall Out series, but Japan video games appear to be ahead of the US-based video games companies in the game charts worldwide.
I must say I very much admire the way the Japanese manage their healthy eating habits with meals full of fresh seafood and vegetables, and also a balanced amount of meat. Furthermore, Japanese food doesn’t only taste good, but it also looks extremely good too.
It’s impossible to say which country has the most delicious food, but for me, Japan surely ranks at the top in terms of balancing both healthy and delicious all in one dish. Every time someone mentions sushi, sukiyaki, miso soup, ramen, sashimi, and gyudon, it is always bound to make my mouth water.
There are many you will find in Japan from the most fascinating, romantic theme restaurants, to the weird and wacky ones. Of course, just like the way they look, the menu will surely exceed your expectations, in both taste and hospitality. From some of the legends like vampire cafes, you can also find idol cafes such as AKB48, and so on. Japan is also the home to maid cafes, which is famous in Akihabara and Tokyo. Also, last but not least, we cannot forget cat cafes, which can be found almost everywhere all over Japan.
In my opinion, Japan is probably the only place where its customer service makes you feel like “the special one”, and you are treated with absolute politeness, no matter who you are. The Japanese hospitality welcomes you with a smile every time and is always looking to please their customers with any of their needs, if possible. Japanese hospitality is truly outstanding, where you really do receive a warm welcoming wherever you go. And on top of that, you always receive a gentle bow as you leave as well.
I call this the miracle of my life, as the Japanese washlet, is all I can ask for in a toilet. They are not just clean, but also have multiple functions such as heated seats, spray functions (which can allow pressure, direction and heat to be adjusted), flushing sounds and/or music function to drown out any embarrassing sounds, some toilets even have automatic opening lids. Seriously, these Japanese high-tech toilets turn you bathroom experience into a whole new level of adventure!
I’ve lived in many places but Japan surpasses them all in terms of safety. It’s one of the few places where I can leave my bag on a table to secure it and wait in line for a drink without worrying that it will be stolen. I have inadvertently left my phone and even my credit card to have shopkeepers literally run after me in the street just to return them. There are koban (police boxes) on every block for your needs, though due to Japan being such a safe country I mostly use them for directions! I have had multiple friends and family ask me if it is safe to come visit here and my answer is always a resounding Yes!
Nothing lets you immerse in a culture like festivals. Luckily, Japan has multiple offerings on a seemingly monthly (if not daily) basis! From the usual holiday festivals to the strange kitchen tools and even penis festivals, Japan has it all covered. Make sure to be around during the summer months as there’s nothing like watching fireworks from various festivals overlooking waterways and gorgeous scenery that only Japan has to offer. If you’re ever in the Tokyo area, make sure to book a river cruise (preferably on a traditional Japanese boat or yakabune) far in advance. It is a great way to see this special treat and gets sold out quickly.
It’s called convenience for a reason. Not only can you pick up last minute items here but also get your banking done at the ATMs, receive packages, buy advance event tickets and even pay bills all in one place. The 100 yen coffee and donuts aren’t bad either! Even gourmand Anthony Bourdain swears by their egg salad sandwiches and red hot chicken nuggets for his flights out of Japan. There is something for all your needs there.
While the cherry blossoms take center stage, there are definite seasonal changes in Japan. From Kakigori (shaved ice) in the summer, to the gorgeous foliage changes in the fall (ginkgo, pine and elm trees galore), to the ski season (or onsen hopping season, depending on whom you ask) and even a man made snow wall/tunnel to drive through in the winter, Japan has everything to offer. There are amazing tours each month for different seasonal events because of Japan’s natural beauty alone.
So, what do you think? Do you agree with any of these 14 points mentioned above? These are the aspects I love about Japan and I hope they make motivate you to travel here in the near future!