When we first came to Japan I felt overwhelmed. The cultural shock was big. The first impression we had is that people are much more polite than in any other country we have ever been to.
Almost everyone bows to you, whether you have entered a convenient store, or a shop, restaurant … you name it.
It took us a while to get used to the bowing. Now after living a year here, we are used to it. We even do it ourselves every time we meet a Japanese person, without even realizing.
As of today, we have lived in Japan for 1 year and 2 months in total. So, I think I can pretty much tell why I love this country more than any country I have lived in.
- Public transportation.
I have not been in a country with such accurate and convenient public transportation. When moving in Japan, it took us almost 7 months to decide whether we need a car or no. Japan has very successful train and bus system. I would say even taxi. The taxi rates in Japan are a bit more pricey than other countries. Depending from where are you coming for. But they are very reliable and trustworthy. We have used taxis in rare occasions. If it is a bad storm and we cannot get to the train station or if we are really late for something.
People in Japan are polite. Polite like in no other country we have been until now. They will try to help you in the most helpful way and make you feel comfortable whatever you are doing. After 1 year we only now started understanding the language a bit. With our zero Japanese they would go out of their way to make sure that we get whatever we are looking for.
- Bakeries and patisseries
I come from a country where bakeries are a big thing. If I never visited Japan I would never ever think that Japan is a country with very tasty bread, pastries, cakes, cookies. Japanese people enjoy eating French pastries and many of their bakeries are named after French names. Their cakes and deserts in general are very lightly sweetened, and that makes it pure joy when you are eating. If you are visiting Japan make sure that you stop by in a pastisserie or bakery and taste those amazing pastries.
Japan is a VERY clean country. It is not very common to see garbage bins in public, but people are so mindful of their waste – it’s amazing. No one ever throws litter on the streets, on the beach, in the park.
There is a park near our bay area which is very spacious and big, and we have only 2 bins – one is for plastic bottles and cans and the other one is general waste. To get to these bins you have to walk about 10 minutes. But, people still collect their garbage on the end of their day and walk to the bins to throw it there. Sometimes I see people (including ourselves ) that they take their garbage with them and leave. One of the reasons that they are so mindful of the waste is that kids are being taught about these things in school and in their early age. My daughter is 2 and a half years old, and she already knows which trash goes in which bin.
- Riding bicycles
Bicycles are being used a lot in Japan, if there is any way of transportation that is used more than trains than it would be bicycles. The first thing we wanted to purchase when we moved in here, was a bicycle for my husband and me. There are plenty of choice when buying a bicycles. I personally liked the electric one with a child seat at the back. In Japan it’s called “mamachari“, and it’s very common amongst moms. I ride the bicycle every single day. To the park, to the mall, to the supermarket, taking my daughter to the nursery, going to a restaurant. Literally we use our bicycles more than our car or the train. Our neighbourhood is on a hill, so having an electric bicycle is very helpful. In Japan is very common to see very small children learning how to ride a bicycles, starting at the age of two years old and all the way to people that are in their 80s or even 90s.
- Convenient stores
I love the convenient stores in Japan. They are as they are called, very much convenient. My personal favorite is 7/11. They have great choice of freshly cooked food, lot of snacks, drinks, desserts, stationery, pet food, over the counter medicines etc. Another thing that I love about the convenient stores in Japan is that they have printers, so if you ever need to print any documents you can go to the nearest convenient store to your place. Speaking about printers, they also have a photo printer – means you can use the printer by yourself and get as many pictures as you need – they offer various sizes and formats for pictures.
Nature in Japan is incredibly beautiful. Years ago I was following several accounts on Instagram and I always used to tell my boyfriend (now husband ) that if we ever get married I would love to go for a honeymoon in Japan and visit all those beautiful places. Sadly, we didn’t go for a honeymoon but we were blessed enough to even get a better opportunity and now to live and raise our child here. In Japan you don’t have to travel thousands of kilometers to get to a beautiful park, a river, a lake… Majority of the areas in Japan have amazingly beautiful parks within walking distances. In our area itself we have around 20 parks which are beautiful, the furthest one is 15mins by bicycle. We go every other day to visit a park with my daughter. It’s quiet, it’s peaceful, there are a lot of trees and benches where you can sit down and enjoy your day. Parks are usually dog friendly, so that is another plus to consider if you own a dog.
- Heated toilets
Yep, you read well. Heated toilets. I wish every country have a heated toilet. Before moving here, I never knew that 99% of the homes, restaurants, shops have heated toilet seats. Japan tends to get quite cold in the winter months. In our prefecture the weather can go up to -10. In my home country the weather gets really cold too. One thing that I hated as a child was waking up in the middle of the night to use the toilet, and since we rarely heated the toilet, the toilet seat will be super cold. But, that is not the case here. As soon as you open the toilet lid, the toilet seat heats up and it is a literally a pleasure to go to the toilet. Not to make you feel bad about it, but Japan have implemented these toilets since 1980. I still can’t understand why these toilets are not yet so popular in the rest of the world.
- Simplicity of life
Japanese people live very simple life. That is something that I really admire.
Parents love spending time with their children – they are 100% focused on their children when they are outside in the parks or restaurants.
People from any age love hiking – Hiking is a big thing in Japan, there are lot of hiking trails, lot of social media groups with people who gather and hike together every weekend.
They love picnics – Picnics are also big thing. Almost every weekend the parks in our area are full of people who set up their tent and stay for the day enjoying the park or the near by river with their families.
They live in very small houses – and their homes are never really cluttered. For them “the bigger the better” it’s not really a thing. They are quite mindful of their footprint on the planet.
They love sports and love to exercise – Every morning, especially on weekends parents with their children, people with their dogs go for long walks, or run. I found it very strange on the beginning when I would see people that are in their 80s gather in groups in the parks and exercise early in the mornings, but now it is something that taught me that exercise is important no matter how old you get.
There are a thousands of other reasons I can write about why I love Japan so much, but maybe in future I can write a new post with a new things that we really love. Also, please note that all these points are from our personal experience in Japan so far. These are things that we really love, and things that make our expat lives here much more comfortable and enjoyable.