12 Things I Love about Living in Japan

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I like living in Japan. I don’t plan to spend the rest of my life here, but there are several distinct advantages to living in Japan as opposed to somewhere else. The truth is, each country has its own good and bad points. So far, I have lived in America (Texas and Philadelphia), Ghana (Accra), and Japan (Sapporo, Osaka, and Tokyo)… and I love different things about living in each country.

But for now, let’s talk about Japan. Here are the 12 things I love about living in Japan:

1. Availability of vending machines

vending-machine

Japan has the largest number of vending machines per capita, somewhere around one machine for every 23 people. I’m not sure if that is necessary, but it sure is convenient. The majority of these vending machines sell drinks (hot drinks in the winter; cold drinks in the summer) and sit in well-trafficked areas.

2. The public transportation is extremely efficient

My husband and I don’t own a car in Japan. We are able to survive easily enough just relying on busses and trains. The bus stop near our apartment can take us all around the ward and trains come every seven minutes. When we want to go on a road trip or buy furniture, it’s easy (and cheap) to just rent a car for the day.

3. Drinking in public is legal

In some countries, it is illegal to consume alcohol in public (streets, trains, parks, etc). Japan is not one of those countries.

4. It’s safe to walk (alone) basically anywhere as a woman

safe

Japan is the only country I have lived or traveled in where I have felt 100% safe walking alone at night, regardless of the area. Yes, crime happens. You still need to be careful. However, I have never been approached or harassed by a stranger while walking home at night – which happened regularly when I lived in Texas and Philadelphia.

5. The complete convenience of convenience stores

Convenience stores really are convenient in Japan. You can pay your bills, withdraw money, buy a freshly prepared lunch, and pick up emergency beauty supplies in less than five minutes. Don’t even get me started on their ice cream selection. In large cities, convenience stores are on basically every corner and in the countryside, convenience stores are placed strategically.

6. Recycling is actually practiced

Recycling can be a hassle, of course, but it is nice to live in a country where people actually recycle rather than just tossing everything in the trash.

7. Heated toilet seats

Heated toilet seats are a beautiful, magical thing that should be adopted in more countries. They run hot water under the lid so it is less painful going to the bathroom during the freezing winter months.

8. Pockets of nature, even in the large cities

nature

I don’t enjoy “city life” which really is a shame because I’ve been living in Tokyo for almost three years now. My husband and I both prefer the countryside. Thankfully, Tokyo has quite a bit of “countryside” even in the heart of the city. There are little pockets of nature (parks, temples, trees, etc) hidden between buildings. The key is knowing where to look.

9. You can get by (ish) without speaking the language

Of course, I recommend learning Japanese. It’s a fun language. However, if you are just going to be placed in Osaka for six months, you can get by using only English. And, of course, I assume if you’re reading this article, you can speak English.

10. Sanitation and general cleanliness

Most of the large cities in Japan are surprisingly clean. Rather than throwing trash on the ground, most people take it home and recycle it.

11. Delicious (and healthy) food

food

Sushi, ramen, okonomiyaki, nabe, mochi, udon – I could entertain you for hours with stories of my favorite foods in Japan. Most traditional Japanese foods don’t use milk (a huge bonus for lactose intolerant people like me), use plenty of vegetables, and are very “light.” I’ve lost quite a bit of weight in Japan, my skin has almost completely cleared up, and I feel much more energetic. Food makes a big difference.

12. Insane (polite) customer service

It’s almost unnerving how polite customer service is in Japan. Of course, this can also be a problem if you don’t speak keigo (formal Japanese).

What about you? What are your favorite things about living in Japan?

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Texan blogger and comic book artist.
  • Stephen I. Diáz says:

    Agree!

  • PeterJaeger says:

    Hi Grace, I miss you on YouTube.
    I agree to your list. Safety, cleanliness, and friendliness are my top 3. I would add onsen (hot spa), beautiful nature (especially in spring for cherry blossom and in fall for foliage), and punctuality of public transportation. Even after 1,200 km from Tokyo to Hakata Shinkansen trains arrive just on time.

  • Fabiano Weingart says:

    good list, i completely agree. i would also add: driving bicycle is great & easy in japan! streets are not overbusy, strict rules for bicylists do not really exist and cars are really respectful towards you. beside you can be sure your bike will never get stolen, even unlocked….

  • Just don’t did deep or you’ll stumble upon things you wish you did know. There are some ugly things about this place too but as a 5 year resident in Tokyo I recommend you not to look for it especially if you are staying in Japan for 2 years or less. Have fun and experience different things.

  • Zacko77 says:

    This is awesome. I sooooooooo want to go oneday

  • Krizia De La Cruz says:

    I know a lot of people, both friends and simply strangers I’ve meet on a spur of the moment who simply order dish after dish with the mentality that it’s “all healthy.” Which is why I thought it deserved a mention. I tend to stay away from packaged foods, so I don’t know how many people make such mistakes!

  • Bodtec66 says:

    Should I assume that my wife and little girl had better not visit Japan until we can speak a fair amount of the language? We are going to Philippines in 2017 and hope to stay in Nagura to take the high speed train to Fuji and see some local sites for a 3-4 day stay. PS: I practice Holistic Health. How great would that be to do that there for a year or so. 🙂

    • disqus_dXRrppHD1H says:

      Go. Most Japanese speak some English and LOVE to practice it with you. They are the most helpful, gracious people you will ever meet.

  • Peou Richard Kovit says:

    T-T

  • Tess de la Serna says:

    Love your article! I learned a lot of Japan by reading your articles. My Japanese teacher is from Tokyo and she tells me a lot of amusing stories.

  • Fira Rosli says:

    I just came back from Fukuoka after being there for a month because of an exchange program with a university over there. It wasn’t my first time being in Japan actually, in fact I went to Tokyo 2 years ago. I love both cities equally if not, I have to say a tad bit more love to Fukuoka since the area is surrounded by countryside which is very, very beautiful. What I really love about Japan the most is firstly, the food (OH-MY-GAWD). I can’t stop eating their ramen, sushi, soba, takoyaki and oh, their Strawberry Shortcakes are one of a kind! Secondly, as you have mention in your blog post, their extremely polite customer service. Thirdly, Japanese people. I’m not saying that all of them are polite or nice people but when I was at the University, the students and professors are really kind and caring. The students there approached me and tried their best to talk to me in English while blushing and stuttering and I can’t help it but felt guilty because of my poor Japanese. I want to live in Japan someday and I can’t wait for that day to come!

  • mariana says:

    I love your articles. And your comics are amusing.. i’m moving to Japan soon and enjoy reading you

  • All these and more… I like that I can afford to go out and drink with friends in a nomihoudai, or to drink on the go/at home cheap, being left alone as well!!

  • Akuma No Shi says:

    If I were to plan a 2 month trip to Tokyo and surrounding prefectures, how much do you think I would need to have a REALLY GOOD time – Food, Party, Travel and Hostel money

  • thomas says:

    As a psychology doc Japan must be the number 1 country with mental health issues. Never seen another place on this planet where majority of people have lifeless emotions and appear non human.I also wonder why people think that there is a honest politeness… its fake, trained on and just disgusting to watch when sales people work more than 12 hours nonstop and pretend to have the same smile each time you visit them.I also been shocked how less human contact exist between people.Met plenty of expats there and the longer they stay the more they become a lifeless soul them self.If you wanna enjoy this country move into mountains away from the zombie world..

  • A. Arcade says:

    If I could I would move there in a heart beat. Just to try it out. I lived in Europe for a while and that was fun but this is a place where the language really eludes me. If I knew how to go about moving there AND finding a stable job, I’d take that offer.

  • Rose Cass says:

    Yes! I have only visited Japan but your points definitely resonate with me. Another small thing I love about Japan is organization when it comes to lines/queues. For example when waiting for a train, people were nicely lined up and would let others off before going on. Seems so simple! Here in Canada some people do not have that kind of courtesy and will just try to shove on the train before people have gotten off.
    Also trains never being late blew my mind!

  • Jennifer Zyren Smith says:

    I was living in an onsen town when I was there and I got addicted. I love onsen and I miss it in the winter months.

  • Yushan Han says:

    i get harassed on the streets a lot though..

  • Xandra Corpora says:

    Japan is Amazing! I just finished my first year and plan on staying forever 🙂

  • ALL OF THE ABOVE WHERE TRUE … MISSED JAPAN SO MUCH, HOPED I CAN GO THERE AND WORK THERE …. HELP ME …..

  • Jackes Akira Magário says:

    I lived in Japan for 6 years and now I am living in Brazil again. One of the best things that I saw in Japan was the education of japanese people. Since they are children they learn to clean their dust, to cook some food at school, and go by foot to school without their parents. Sounds simple but makes much difference in the future.

  • Amber Dixon says:

    Japan is an amazing place to live, your 12 points are a proof!!
    Do they really have heated toilet seats?? very thoughtful 🙂

  • Krizia De La Cruz says:

    My only issue is that portion control isn’t mentioned when discussing food. It may seem like a no brainer for most of us, but you wouldn’t believe how many people I’ve met who have gained weight in Japan because they stuff themselves with this “healthy” food because the word on the street is that most of the food in Japan is “healty” and therefore, you can eat all you want.

    • TheGirl FromIpanema says:

      Then it’s more about them than the food, right?

      • Krizia De La Cruz says:

        It is, but I think that issue needs to be tackled, if only to break that stereotype that all Japanese food is healthy and you can eat as much of it as you want.

  • John Mullins says:

    I lived in Tokyo for 6 years, and my wife is from there, but I much prefer Osaka.
    – I like the less congested roads (I do drive to work here) and good highway system
    – The proximity to so much history and culture (Kyoto, Nara, Kobe)
    – Easy day-trip Shinkansen access to Tokyo, Nagoya, Hiroshima, and Kyushu
    – Lots of hiking and nature in the mountains within a few minutes train or drive
    – Clean air compared to the rest of East Asia
    – Nice, friendly people
    – They also stand on the correct side of the escalator here, which calms me immensely

  • i’ve been living here for 4 month still could find something that could amaze me everyday.and i’m falling in love with this country and the people here. planning on living here 3-5 years.

  • Bill says:

    Origami coffee. Every time I think about buying a coffee machine I decide, nah, origami coffee is much more fun and taste’s good, too.

  • Dani Pascual says:

    Going to japan was my childhood dream so when i went there last year i loved the place so much cause there are lots of things there that my country doesnt have like being able to walk alone at night cause in my country its not safe to walk around at any hour so there is a need to own a car and have a driver to get around

  • Margie Gibson Adams says:

    I love your view 🙂 and I agree 🙂

  • mw91 says:

    Really loved to see you write #8. I feel like i’m constantly seeing articles talk about how japanese cities are concrete wastelands, and it doesn’t jive with my own experience. Loved finding those little tranquil pockets. When I lived in Hamamatsuchou, a mere 5 minute walk got me peace at hamarikyu, shiba rikyu, or atago jinja for instance.

  • Moises Gorospe says:

    i love their discipline especially on traffic light. even when there is no other car crossing street, they still stop and wait for green to go. most unlikely in Philippines

  • Akuma No Shi says:

    How are you guys… and girls supporting yourselves? I was told that you need to have a bachelors degree, to even clean the bathrooms, if you’re from the U.S. :/

    • Having a bachelor’s degree certainly helps. If you don’t have one – it might be difficult to find a job (unless you speak Japanese fluently). The hardest part (I guess) is finding a company that will sponsor your visa.

  • papiGiulio says:

    Huh? shouldnt #1 be ‘because of my boyfriend’ ? 😉

    I assume its your boyfriend in the photo.

  • steve drake says:

    No way! Vending machines everywhere! Clean, safe, polite! I’m moving there tomorrow.

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