Being jealous of people who get the chance to live in the wackiest place on earth is a misjudgement. It is a common belief that Japan is the wackiest, most fashionable and most advanced country in the world making other people think that living in the country might be a series of fun, very easy, and smooth undertaking.
But the truth is despite the country’s advancement in terms of fashion, industry and technology you will find Japan simple and homey yet complicated at the same time.
Many people will argue with the statement that Japan is a low technology country. Because, we all know that the greatest advancements of all time originated in Japan. That includes the super toilet where, after you are done with your thing, the toilet basically does everything else. Or the fact that Japan’s smart cars may be smarter than you are for they can park themselves without much hustle. But don’t you know that there are companies that seldom accept paperwork by emails. You have to print them or fax everything to your bosses. My husband once requested his broker to send the values of his income tax via MMS, but, unfortunately the broker does not own a smartphone. And we all know that it is not because of lack in technological advancements but because half the country’s population is elderly and they are not that eager to adapt to the advancements in technology–yet.
In the metropolitan cities such as Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya credit cards and debit cards may be in wide use but in more discreet areas people live in cash. Even their ATM machines close as the banks close making 7-11 and other convenient stores everybody’s best friend for they are the only places where you can withdraw cash, if not 24 hours, then at least until 8:00 in the evening.
Japan’s strong sense for nationalism has made it hard for them to absorb foreign languages including English. Though there are Japanese people who can speak and understand English, they are quite a few and are usually limited to those who are working in an international market. Hence, you really need to learn the language. Or else, how would you be able to communicate with your apartment landlady, or your cab driver or with the waitresses in the restaurants. That is how badly you need to learn the language.
Because of the language barrier, you will really find yourself stuck either in the middle of a conversation, or in the middle of the queue at Disneyland despite the fact that you already have a ticket and realized in the middle of the line, that all these Japanese are queuing for tickets. Or you will find yourself purchasing sugar instead of salt, or simply getting stuck in the grocery store for you do not know what to buy because everything is in Japanese. So yes. I really find myself being lost.. most of the time.
Japan has strict recycling laws. They have long been established since 1997 and these years of practice has made Japan one of the greenest and cleanest countries in the world. So? As a foreigner, who am I to break its recycling protocols? That means I have to have as much discipline as the Japanese to properly dispose my PET bottles, my cans and paper cartons. Not just segregate these water bottles to their proper trash bins but you have to remove the caps, remove the labels, and clean the contents before you throw it away. That is a lot of effort considering you have lived your entire life lazily throwing everything in one large garbage can. But you know what? I have gotten used to it. In fact, it has become my way of life.