Instead of writing a million more posts about Japan, I'm going to finish it off here so that I can start writing other things. When you boil all of my experiences in Japan down, you're left with one common theme - Japan is way better than the US.
In America we're all so proud that we're such a tolerant society. We tolerate each other's differences because that tolerance is passed on to us and we get to do whatever we want.
Japan is different. More than tolerance, they have an overwhelming underlying respect for everyone and everything. It's almost crazy. The best example is the subways. In the subways there are advertisements hanging from the ceiling of every subway car. They aren't plastic, tyvek, or even laminated paper. They're just paper like a poster.
Any one of the thousands of train riders each day could easily rip the ad, crinkle the paper, or pull it down. It would take a trivial amount of effort, and there are no authorities in the subway. Yet no one does. Ever. It's the craziest thing I'd ever seen. In New York these ads would last for about 4 seconds before they were torn down.
In Japan there is no tipping anywhere, and tax is always included. Did you order something that cost 1000 yen? Then you pay 1000 yen and leave. It's that easy. We went to only one restaurant that had tipping and it was 10% that was added automatically. That might have been an outrage if we didn't have a chef cooking at our table for the entire meal.
Think the service suffered? Nope! The service is WAY better than any service I've had in the US because they're helpful and genuinely care if you're having a good dining experience or not. They're not putting a fake smile on their faces while they tolerate you like our waiters. Even better, there are little buttons at the tables sometimes which summon a waiter. Once we pressed it and we had a waiter at our table in 10 seconds, with another coming 10 seconds later to see if he could help. Amazing.
Even the police in Japan are better. Since there is basically NO CRIME, they don't have a lot of crimefighting to do. Japan is so safe that people leave their bikes everywhere unlocked with their belongings in the baskets. People don't even litter - who is going to take a bike? I would feel totally safe leaving my laptop on the sidewalk for an hour while I walked somewhere. It would be there when I got back.
The last day we were there, Todd and I wanted to make sure that we knew where the Narita Express train was to the airport so that we could go check out the Imperial Palace and then go straight to the train. We asked the police where the train was and they showed us. We then left the station to check out the palace.
A block later a policeman stopped us. He had been following us and trying to catch up. What was the offense? None - he just wanted to make sure that we knew where the train was. That would NEVER happen in the US. Even though we were ugly Americans he still had the respect to come help us when he thought we needed it.
Remember my post about cell phone etiquette? Everyone in Japan already does all that. Other than our when our guide, a beautiful girl dressed in a traditional Japanese kimono who walked around with us all day for free, was trying to find out from her friends which restaurant was best, I don't think we ever saw anyone talking on their phones in public. It just doesn't happen.
Everyone in Japan is skinny and healthy looking. Their food isn't particularly healthy, but the portions are small and everyone walks miles each day to and from train stations. As soon as we got back to the US we were amazed at how fat and obnoxious everyone was. Now I finally understand why people don't like Americans.
The subway system, by the way, is totally amazing. It's a hodgepodge of several privately owned rail lines that criss cross to cover the entire country. I'm pretty sure that you can get within walking distance of anything in a remotely metropolitan area for a few dollars from anywhere by train. Even though they're owned by different companies, it's seamless. Each station has the same features and lets you transfer painlessly. It's not fair to compare this to the US since we're a lot bigger, but it's still amazing.
Oh, and for one last reason why Japan is amazing, check out this video:
true true now that i think of it whats so great about america? america has stupid iventions nobody cares about like some dumb car i heard about while over at japan they have robots with voices that sound almost human called vocaloids and robot toy baby seals U.S. has some lame tv with poorly drawn people like johnny test while japan is enjoying there anime like fruits basket
Anyone who hates Japan or has this strange idea that the US is actually better, has gone mad!
I mean, Japan has everything you could ever ask for. Culture + Food + Respect + Clothing + Technology + Cars + Anime/Manga = AMAZING-NESS!!!
And there is so much more I could say about that wonderful country AND the people who live there!!!
The US fails miserably in comparison to Japan.
One more to thing to mention is that the music is better in Japan than America nowadays! J-pop(Japanese pop) has better artists and sound better than fake, brainwashing Justin Beiber and most current musicians. There's even J-Rock,J-Rap, video game soundtracks, and anime soundtracks. All of which sound better than most American music. But yes sometimes I wish I can just get up and move to Japan AKA paradise!
After living in Japan for over 7 years I can tell you that yes, it is great. It does get to you after years of living there though, and the longer you are there the clearer the picture becomes. Do you think the policeman or the kimono wearing girl would have bothered if you were a Japanese guy? Do you think they REALLY care about each other? For all the Japanese people, trying to make ends meet in a competetive society it is not so rosy. With that said however, it is a wonderful country and I have gained a lot personally from my experience there.
hey, thanks for your honest reply. Can you tell us what attracted you to japan in the first place, and what made you stay 7 years? Did you experience any feelings of claustrophobia while there; there is a saying for this, but I don't know what it is. Island claustrophobia. I suppose after living there for 7 years you wouldn't regard japan as a tourist attraction, and see it for what it is. I still don't quite understand japan as far as no crime, friendly people, etc. What would you say about japan being a communal type of living, where everyone is connected and conform to a set of standards, ideals, and national protocols in fear of being ostracized publicly? If this is the case, then there are really no individuals. And everyone is cast into the same mold, despite any differences in lifestyles, occupation, desires, etc. Could this be a cause for the higher rates of suicides in Japan?
My opinion: do not mistaken between Tourism and Immigration!
It is maybe time to wake up. You saw in Japan only what you expected and wanted to see/find. You are still far from the reality. Japanese have no idea about the respect 'cause the meanings of the word differ from society to another. Smile is a shape inside Japan, a communicator in other countries. Technology: You would find more usefulness in Europe. Food: if it is so good why selling supplement junky food. Anime-manga? No wonder why people love Japan only for its marginal sides. I always feel unpleasant when someone associates Manga with Culture. Well, in culture we could read Cult and ure, could we?
Japan totally wins. Hardcore. ^_^
As an avid anime fan, I have to ask - did you get any pictures of the Tokyo Tower? Almost every anime that takes place in Japan involves the Tokyo tower, often getting destroyed in some way/shape/form. I'd be highly amused if you had one :-D
Are you joking me? Japan is one of the most Xenophobic countries. I am living in Tokyo now. They are almost at the same level as South Korea.
Japan might be better than U.S. But the high suicide rates, the unbalanced foods, the ridiculous immigration unacceptance, and the poor TV quality (http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/international-research-data.pdf), despite the great anime and manga, took me away from considering the Japan (in my point of view) one of the balanced countries: Is more balanced than United States, but is less compared, for example, to Australia. In fact the Down Under (aka Australia) has less criminal rates, better TV quality, better climate, more respect to nature (they don't fish whales) and more immigration acceptance.
I land in Narita Airport, Japan, pull two thousand Yen out of the ATM, and get on the train for Tokyo. From memory I walk down familiar streets until I get to the New Zealand Embassy in northern Shibuya, where my friend Elliot lives. I haven't seen him in almost two years, and have only emailed a few times since then, but it's as if I never left. We joke around, walk to dinner, and make plans for the weekend.
The next day I pop my Japanese SIM card into my phone and call my friend Toby to let him know that I'm around. He tells me about a party he's throwing in Yoyogi park, so a couple other friends and I join him.
Nothing about these individual scenes is particularly noteworthy. That's the point. In various places around the world I have enough good friends that I can have a pretty normal life there while visiting.
August 11th, 2011. Chiba, Japan.
A mix of confusion and awe as I step off the platform.
I must have made a mistake. But maybe a good mistake.
Birds caw and cicadas click gently, filling the warm afternoon air with sounds of nature. The train platform is open to the air and on the other side of the tracks is a high fence. Beyond it, a bicycle and walking path leading to a park.
Children are running around and playing in the park, but surprisingly quietly. Very Japanese.