So, as some of you may already know my wife and I just got back from a two-week trip to Japan. It was the first time visiting for both of us. Japan is amazing and there were a number of things that stood out to me that I really liked that we don’t have at home in the US. Here is a list of 11 of them. They are in no particular order.
1: Japanese Toilets
Unlike in America, the toilets in Japan are special. They are actually electrical appliances, just like your refrigerator, washing machine, dishwasher, oven, etc. They’re actually plugged into the wall. Why is this great? First off, because the seats are heated! Yes, that’s right, the seats are actually warm and it feels mighty fine, not going to lie. There are also plenty of other features, and if you want to know more just watch the short, funny video on this page. All I can say is in my next home I’m definitely going to try and get one of them put in.
2: Wet Napkins
At every restaurant or cafe you visit you’re given wet napkins so you can clean your hands and face after eating without having to go to the bathroom. The wet napkins come in little plastic packets so you just tear them open when you’re ready to use them. Unfortunately back home we really only get wet napkins at BBQ joints. It’s a shame.
3: Rail Network
Japan has a rail network that I found amazing. It’s very well organized and pretty much covers the entire country. Japan also has the Shinkansen, or bullet train. In fact, they’re the ones that pioneered it. Shinkansen trains are really neat looking, high-speed trains that can reach speeds in excess of 200 mph. Japan’s rail network makes travel throughout the country extremely easy and efficient. You can easily ride between major cities, relatively quickly. For example, you could easily have breakfast in Tokyo, lunch in Kyoto, and dinner in Osaka. Also, the trains run extremely punctual, almost to the second. I think my wife and I only experienced one minor delay throughout our two weeks traveling around. To me, this rail network fully beats flying. It’s something I wish we had in the US, specifically across the Southwest, West, and Pacific Northwest.
4: Non-Tipping Culture
In Japan, it’s considered rude to tip. That means the price on your bill when you go out to eat is the price you pay. You don’t have to add any extra. It’s fantastic. If your bill is 1,800 yen you pay 1,800 yen. It’s simple and easy. There’s no need to judge your waiter or waitress, no need to decide what percentage tip to give him or her, and no need to do any mathematical calculations at your table. This non-tipping culture makes things easier for the customer and also eliminates the staff from getting angry at receiving bad tips. I honestly wish America had a non-tipping culture. It’s just better that way and I already miss it.
5: Low Crime Rate
Japan has a very low crime rate. Its crime rate is well below that of the US. What I really liked about traveling around a country with a very low crime rate was there really wasn’t any fear of getting pickpocketed or having any of your possessions stolen. Obviously, you still need to be aware of your surroundings but compared to other countries I’ve traveled to the fear of having stuff stolen was far less.
6: Department Store Food Halls
On the basement floor of department stores in the big cities of Japan are massive food halls. They’re incredible. It’s basically food heaven. You can honestly buy anything down there, from fresh fish, to sushi and sashimi, to fresh fruits and veggies, to sweets, to sandwiches, and much more. These food halls can totally be where you do your regular grocery shopping or where you just go to get snacks or eat amazing full meals. If you ever visit Japan please visit the basement floor of a department store. You’ll be thoroughly amazed!
Another thing I thought was really clever and nice was that at most restaurants underneath each chair or at the very least at each table was a basket for you to put your belongings in while you eat. My wife and I would regularly put our backpacks and jackets in these baskets while we ate. It was a very convenient way to keep our belongings stored and out of the way. I really wish restaurants in the US had this.
8: Pocket WiFi
At the airports in Japan you can rent a pocket wifi device to keep with you during your travels. Pocket wifi is a little device that gives you high-speed wifi at all times wherever you go. We rented one from a company called Pupuru. Every night we’d charge it and every day we’d keep it in one of our bags. Everywhere we went our wifi access went with us. We were even able to connect multiple devices to it. It was also pretty cheap at less than $10/day. It was fully worth the cost.
9: Vending Machines
I kid you not, there are vending machines literally everywhere in Japan. Everywhere you go, everywhere you look. In fact, there are over 5,000,000 vending machines across the country! Japan has the highest density of vending machines worldwide. It’s quite impressive actually. You’re never far away from a snack or beverage. As far as drinks go we normally think of vending machines as only having cold drinks, but in Japan they have vending machines with hot drinks as well. They had plenty of bottles of hot coffee but since I don’t drink coffee I regularly enjoyed a hot can of hot chocolate. It blew my mind that I could get a hot can of hot chocolate from a vending machine. There were also vending machines with snacks, ice cream, beer, and hot food such as hot cans of corn. It was wild to see and in my opinion downright awesome.
10: The Quiet and Cleanliness
Japan is a very clean country and in some cities like Tokyo it’s actually rather quiet too. Regarding how clean most cities are, it’s actually interested they’re that way considering the fact that there are very few trash cans in public areas for people to throw away their trash. Because of the lack of trash cans, the Japanese citizens just hold onto their trash until they get to an area with a trash can, such as a train station or a convenience store, or until they get home. It’s nice because in most areas/cities there aren’t dirty, smelly trash cans everywhere yet there still isn’t much trash on the ground. Best combo you can have. Whenever I had any trash, like an empty drink container or a wrapper from a snack I’d do as the Japanese do and just keep it all in a plastic bag in my backpack until I came across a trash can to dispose of it in. It wasn’t a big deal at all.
Regarding how quite a lot of the cities are, it’s really just due to the culture in Japan and of the Japanese people. For example, nobody talks super loudly or yells in the streets and at the train station when waiting in line for a train to arrive nobody in the crowds of people talk much. Everyone just keeps to themselves and is quiet. On the trains it’s the same way. One day we took a train during rush hour from one area of Tokyo to another and the train car we were in was packed to the gills with people. It was so quiet I swear you could have heard a pin drop. I kid you not. Oh, and there isn’t much honking from cars. For all of these reasons, it’s why I now tell people that Tokyo is basically a much cleaner and quieter version of New York City.
In Japan it’s perfectly normal for people to wear masks covering their noses and mouths. I always thought people would wear the masks in public to avoid getting sick but they actually wear them when they’re sick so they don’t infect others. Very considerate, huh. People will also wear the masks if they have allergies from pollen or other things that could be floating in the air. How nice is that though, it’s 100% accepted for someone to wear a mask on their face to prevent themselves from getting other people sick. Unfortunately, in the US, it’s considered really weird and strange to wear a mask on your face. Too bad that’s the case because I think we can all agree that society would be better off if we adopted this aspect of the Japanese way of life.
Thank you very much for reading this post. I hope you found this content interesting. If you have any questions or comments about any of the items above or about Japan travel in general let me know in the comments below.
P.S. For all you domainers reading this, I saw a mix of .com, .jp, and .co.jp in Japan. What’s the difference between .jp and .co.jp you ask? Well, .jp is less regulated and any person, group, or organization that has a permanent address in Japan can register as many of these domains as they like. On the other hand, .co.jp is tightly regulated and only companies that have an official corporate registration in Japan can have one of these domains. Interesting stuff, huh.