Here is a list of things I will miss about Japan. Yes, there are things I will miss! I know I have been hating on Japan recently but just because it’s not a place that I can comfortably live, there are some major and not so major things I will miss about the place.
1 the safety
There is so little crime in Japan. I have never felt so safe. Even if I walk home at night on my own I feel just as safe as I do during the day. The most seedy places in Tokyo at night are probably Roppongi and an area in Shinjuku, but compared to some of the roughest places in London (even during the day) they are a haven of safety! I will miss not having to walk around clinging to my bag for fear of pick-pockets! I feel sad that I have to adjust to being paranoid about crime and my own safety when I go back to London *sigh*
2 the cleanliness
The streets are so clean, EVERYWHERE. It’s not like in London where the council only use money to clean up the fancy areas like Chelsea or Notting Hill and ignore all other areas. People have a pride in keeping their city clean. In the mornings you will see business owners and pensioners rigorously sweeping the streets outside their shops or homes.
3 the language
Of course I will miss using Japanese. Although I don’t use it for work, I do use it daily in some capacity or other and I love it.
4 the transport
Trains & buses
Again the cleaniness of the tubes and trains is impeccable. This is partly down to it not being so socially acceptable to eat in the street or on public transport so you don’t tend to see a lot of discarded rubbish around. Trains are pretty much always on time and running smoothly. Even though the bus is more expensive in Japan than the trains (for some weird reason), the buses are much more pleasant than in London. You won’t get some pervy, old, smelly drunk sit next to you on the bus, everyone is pretty normal! Probably has something to do with everyone in Tokyo being fucking loaded with money and obsessed with appearance…you never really see “chav” like people…anywhere. Just the occasional homeless person…Plus the bus driver is always pleasant, in a good mood (a rare sight in London) and tells you every time the bus is setting off and announces which stop we are at.
Taxis as well are quite nice here. They are expensive like in London, and the only time I use a taxi is if I’m running an errand for work but it’s a pleasant experience. The door of the taxi is automatic, something I always forget and the driver freaks out when I try to open the door myself thinking that the gaijin is going to break the door! Also I don’t understand them but I like the little doily things they have on the head rests.
5 customer service
The over the top niceness and attentiveness of staff, even if it’s false, forced and sometimes just too much, it is never rude or lazy. Unlike in London when you might be served by someone who you can tell cannot be arsed to deal with you, that very, very rarely happens here, except maybe with young staff in convenience stores. I do find the service sometimes frustratingly slow and actually a little bit too attentive as you often get too much info from restaurant staff about the menu and even instructions on how to eat your food but I would rather that than have shit service where the staff ignore you or are rude. I don’t think I’ll miss how the staff yell “irashaemasai” (welcome) at me though…that’s just kind of annoying and often nasal…
6 heated toilet seats in winter
Oh yes. I will miss heated toilet seats. There is nothing better than sitting on a warm seat in winter. I especially appreciated this in the freezing cold of Nagano! I have never used any of the other crazy buttons on these electric toilets for fear of what the hell is going to happen to me, but the heated seats…I will miss…
7 the 5 o’clock bell
Every day at 5pm in Tokyo there is a bell/siren that rings, I can only assume it is to signal the end of school. For some reason, I love hearing this bell. Even though it signals nothing to me as I finish work at 6.30pm so it doesn’t mean home time for me, but somehow I find it comforting. Like if one day it didn’t ring…then I would be worried! On the other hand, I know people who find this bell very eerie, and I know what they mean. It does play quite an eery tune, almost signalling shit’s about to go down…but I like it and will miss it.
8 sunny winters
Even though the winter is cold as in London, everyday the sun is shining. Winter in Japan is beautiful. Whereas the UK is often cold, grey and cloudy, Japan is cold but sunny and crisp.
9 paying betsu betsu
Paying “betsu betsu” means paying “separately” in restaurants. So if you go out with six people and all ordered things with completely different prices, it’s so easy to all pay separately for each thing you ordered. AND you don’t have to worry about the tip in Japan as tipping is not a custom here.
Konbini means convenience store. It’s taken from the word “convenience” but they shorten it to “konbini”. Convenience stores are EVERYWHERE and there are so many different chain stores, 7″11, Family Mart and Lawson being the main chains but there are others. They are all open 24 hours a day and sell a little bit of everything, even cheap-ish veggies in small portions. There are few 24 hour stores in London, unless maybe you are in central London. I will truly miss the konbinis especially 100 yen Lawson which as the name suggests sells everything for just 100 yen! They are so konbi-nient! ;-)
11 wetwipes & water at restaurants
The way that you always get a wet napkin or flanel at restaurants to wipe your hands on before eating. You get them at every restaurant. Also at most restaurants you don’t have to ask for water and then wait half an hour before asking again because the waiter forgot! Most places give you water upon being seated and continuously top up your glass without you asking!
12 the architecture of the city
I do love it here how you can have an ancient shrine or temple, slap bang in the middle of a load of skyscrapers. That’s some beautiful history and architecture.
13 decent umbrellas
When it rains in Japan, it really rains, none of that piddley drizzle you get in London, so they sell really sturdy umbrellas that don’t break 5 minutes after you open them! They are the big kind of umbrellas so they’re kind of annoying to carry around, but because the weather report is so accurate here you always know when you need it and don’t end up poinltessly carrying it. If in doubt about whether it’s going to rain or not just go by this rule; if the Japanese are carrying a big umbrella, you carry a big umbrella because it’s definitely going to rain.
14 playing the gaijin card
Pretending that I can’t speak Japnese when I want to break the rules…don’t think that shit will fly when I get back to London…errrm me no speakie les Englais
So it’s not all bad!