The Best (and Worst) of Japan

This is a list of the things I love most and least about Japan. I'll add to them periodically.

The Best:

1) The people. People in Japan are amazingly nice, friendly and helpful, and I've made extraordinary friends. They go out of their way to make you feel included and try to make you happy. They're usually easy to get along with and are eager to share their culture with you, which is wonderful.

2) The food. Japan has a wonderful range of food, and there's very little of it I don't like. If you're thinking it's just sushi, you're wrong...there's a little of everything, and to suit every taste.

3) It's safe. I've never felt like I was in any danger here, even alone at night.

4) Trains. Easy to use, cheap and can take you pretty much everywhere without much fuss. I wish we had trains in America like this.

5) Convenience. No matter where you are, you can get pretty much everything you need within a short walk--food, medicine, what have you.

6) The service. People in every store go out of their way to greet and help you, and if they come to your house they're always on time. I've become terribly spoiled by it. Going back to the USA will be a major shock in the service arena. And you don't have to tip here, either!

7) Amazing sites. Castles and temples and all sorts of interesting attractions to fill every weekend. I'm rarely bored!

The Worst:

1) The hardest for me is absolutely no physical contact. Japanese people don't touch each other, generally. Americans tend to hug, give back rubs, any number of things to everyone, so coming to Japan was a shock for me. I feel like I've gone into withdrawal.

2) People work very hard to spare the feelings of others and avoid awkward situations, which is great until the person you thought was your new pal never talks to you again, the Japanese way of indicating they want nothing to do with you. This happens rarely, but when it does, it makes me nuts.

3) Likewise, they tend to skirt the issue to avoid saying "no", another habit that drives me up the wall. It's simply to avoid conflict, which I can appreciate, but the lack of communication sometimes leads to much greater complications. It also leads to trouble between foreigners and their Japanese coworkers, since Americans tend to be blunt and thus offensive.

4) The traffic. I will never, ever, ever drive in Japan.

5) Kanji. Beautiful, but completely nuts and hard to learn, and they make reading a train map near impossible.

6. Japanese style pit toilets. I assume these are easier if you're a man, but I have a hell of a time with these things.


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