At this time of year, it’s really easy to get down on living in Japan. The weather is oppressively hot and fits of jealously abound when you see some of your foreign friends heading to their home countries or on holidays but you’re staying here because of finances. And not to mention, getting that dreaded summer holiday homework done.
So to boost our spirits, we decided to come up with a list of things that are great about living in Japan. Some are well known – the convenience, excellent service, a good sense of order and the public transport system. Let’s delve into the less known.
For American members, health care is an overwhelming positive. Japan’s healthcare is relatively affordable and there is “health care coverage for everyone. So thankful for that.” (Emily) It is also easy to see a doctor “If I need to go to the doctor I can just show up at the clinic and the hours are reasonable. No need to call and wait for an appointment” says Beth. Another positive is the no tipping policy in Japan, it’s not a common practice and rarely used. As Kelsey notes “If the service and food sucks, just say “screw it” and leave, no need to tip cause you know the waitress is overworked and lives off that extra $2 you’ll give her.”
Japan’s customer service is world renowned but it’s the little things like “the fact that once you’ve “learned the ways” everything is always the same, ie. the scripts every cashier everywhere follows”, (Alyce), “that you can break 1man (10,000 yen) on a pack of gum without so much as a blink from the cashier”, (Kris) and “the way the cashiers count out the money.” (Sasha)
Yummy Korean lunch set – 1000 yen!
Restaurants and the quality and various of food available is another amazing thing about Japan. Alex explains “I can have a Michelin starred restaurant lunch for less than ¥2000 and can pick up great quality, low-cost food (and wine!) on my way home from work when we don’t have time to cook.” Japanese convenience stores are well known, but for busy mamas, they are a god send – a quick meal and clean toilets makes life that much easier. Diane also adds “that supermarkets here, although not as overwhelming and impressive as Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, do sell healthy, ready-made meals like sushi or grilled fish, which are always handy when one is on the run.”
Selection of salads and sushi at the local supermarket.
The healthiness of Japanese food is also a positive – “I totally love food here, hated it the first two years til I realized I was used to American junk. Still crave it sometimes but yep, food in Japan is AMAZING!!” (Kelsey) It is easy to make good food choices here: “freshly picked vegetables from the local farmers for only 100 yen a big bundle” (Diane); water and “tea is available everywhere. No need for fizzy drinks or juice.” (Maddy); and “school lunch, high quality food and ingredients in general.” (Xana)
Another winner is the convenient and reliable Japanese postal system. These guys never stop work according to Anna “Takyubin (delivery) and Japan Post on time and redeliveries available on weekend and after hours.” Personally I’m impressed that my new laptop was delivered at 8pm on a Saturday and that often the heavy groceries we order online are delivered well into the evening.
Hard working Japanese postie.
Taking care of children can definitely be easier in Japan. For me, I find it safer and easier for my kids to take themselves off to activities and around the neighbourhood. Xana is one of the many who agreed with the view that Japan is safe – “I feel that my children have a lot more freedom and independence here than they would in the US where they would have been sent to foster homes long ago because they go to the park alone!”
Other great things about raising kids here listed were “Affordable child care – even though I can’t get my kids in in the first place” (Anna), “Nursing rooms everywhere and that no one would shame you for nursing your kids in public,” (Danielle) and “the regular cultural calendar events like hina-matsuri and tanabata that make life with little kids so much fun.” (Nicole)
And finally, probably most importantly “did someone mention cheap booze?” asks Beth A. Japan’s alcohol is cheap, easily available and there are always new flavours and seasonal varieties coming up, plus the drinking culture is relaxed and trouble free yet drink driving is strictly prohibited with zero tolerance. What’s not to love about that?
The author’s current favorite chuhai. Kampai!
Actually I think it’s time for my favourite lime bitters chuhai right now. Kampai and enjoy the long hot summer!
Mum to three very loud boys and wife to a patient Japanese man, I'm Australian and moved to the Kansai area in 2012. Aside from navigating all the craziness of being a mum in another country, I work semi-full time and try to keep my sanity! Of course I clean but I don't cook!