10 instances when Japanese people feel thankful to be Japanese

By Krista Rogers

Are there ever times when you feel really glad to have been born where you were? Maybe you’ve felt that way during a holiday, or while eating your favorite local food, but regardless, most of us have had those moments when we’re just plain thankful to be a citizen of a particular country.

Internet portal Mynavi Woman was curious to learn the specific situations and things that made Japanese people happy to be Japanese, and so in typical Mynavi fashion they opened up an internet survey in July to find out. Those results are finally in, and we’re happy to present to you the top 10 things that made Japanese respondents feel lucky to be nihonjin!

The Mynavi survey compiled survey results from 662 Japanese respondents, both male and female, who ranged in age from 18-77 years old. The first question on the survey was a simple yes or no question as follows:

Q: Has there ever been a time you thought, “I’m glad to be Japanese!” in your daily life?

Yes: 428 people (64.7%) No: 234 people (35.3%)

When asked to provide details about the specific circumstances that made them feel that way, the following list came to light. Which of the items below particularly surprised you or didn’t surprise you at all?

1. Japanese food: 159 people

“I often think “I’m glad to be Japanese” when I’m eating sushi and other Japanese foods.” (30-year-old, female)

“Nothing beats eating Japanese food and washing it down with some Japanese sake!” (29-year-old, female)

“I thought so when eating delicious white rice.” (30-year-old, male)

As the hands-down winner, it seems like Japanese people especially appreciate their country’s culinary achievements. And you can’t really argue with them–Japanese national cuisine is darn delicious, enough so that it actually received UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage status. Even if you’re not a big fan of the raw fish thing, you’re bound to find something in the country that tickles your taste buds.

2. Public order and safety: 74 people

“I can sleep on the train in peace, and even if I walk alone at night, it’s not as dangerous as it is overseas.” (23-year-old, female)

“I think this from a service and public order standpoint every time I go overseas.” (27-year-old, female)

“I feel safe when I walk alone at night.” (28-year-old, male)

Two of the main things that I miss most about living in Japan are the relative peace of mind I felt when going somewhere late at night as well as when leaving my bike unattended in the street without fear of it being stolen. Also, there’s virtually no shoving or jostling when lining up – everyone patiently waits their turn. If only all "civilized" societies would follow their example.

3. Clean toilets: 27 people

“Almost all of the public toilets here are impeccably clean.” (36-year-old, female)

“I [feel glad to be Japanese] when I use the toilet. Japanese toilets are the most hygienic in the world!” (44-year-old, male)

Toilets can really make or break it, as anyone who’s had a less than enjoyable bathroom experience while traveling abroad can attest to. Slightly intimidating Japanese squat toilets aside, a good number of Japanese toilets are equipped with all kinds of other functions which you can play around with while going about your business.

4. Onsen [hot springs]: 25 people

“Definitely the onsen culture.” (31-year-old, female)

“Whenever I can relax at an onsen.” (25-year-old, female)

A trip to the onsen is the epitome of a relaxing vacation. Most traditional Japanese-style inns include onsen on their premises, and often you can pay an entrance fee to use the bath during the day without having to stay in an expensive room overnight. Northern Japan in particular is famous for its abundance of natural onsen – just check out our Japanese correspondent’s recent trip to one which he argues is the best in the entire country.

5. Four distinct seasons: 19 people

“Whether it’s hot or cold, I feel like it’s Japan.” (26-year-old, female)

“We can enjoy many seasonal foods during different times of the year.” (30-year-old, female)

This item depends of course on where you live in Japan, but for the most part you’ll be able to experience four distinct seasons while living anywhere on the main island of Honshu. Where I once lived in the northern Yamagata Prefecture, the summers and winters are long while the springs and falls are short, but I could still feel the changing of seasons nonetheless. Many important Japanese holidays and festivals are inextricably tied to a particular season, so you’ll never get bored with all the unique customs each month has to offer.

6. Good manners: 16 people

“The fact that people line up and are polite.” (30-year-old, female)

“How everyone cooperates and has good manners.” (30-year-old, male)

From the bowing to the complex politeness language to their incredible sense of hospitality, Japanese people are well-known for their etiquette and polite manners, as respondents to the survey were quick to acknowledge. This commendable aspect of the culture is instilled into children at a very young age, and there are strict consequences for students who break the rules, as anyone who’s spent some time at a Japanese school can say. If only I had 10 yen for every time a student was rebuked for not saying “excuse me” as they entered the teacher’s room.

7. Tatami: 14 people

“I feel lucky to be Japanese whenever I lie down in a Japanese-style room with tatami flooring.” (30-year-old, female)

Tatami mats are uniquely Japanese, and although they appear to be losing ground to ordinary Western-style floors, there’s at least a small number of people who still prefer the traditional to the modern. Several survey respondents also noted how much they like the smell of freshly laid tatami mats.

8. Anime and manga: 12 people

“Japan has many top-quality anime and manga titles that anyone can enjoy.” (26-year-old, female)

There’s no denying that many, but not all, foreigners are introduced to Japan through its explosion of modern popular culture, whether that be manga, anime, video games, J-Pop, or J-dramas. As some of the country’s biggest cultural exports, popular anime and manga have even shaped generations of children living in other countries. It’s no wonder that Japanese people feel proud to live in the country that produced some of the most recognizable pop culture icons of all time, from Hello Kitty to Super Mario!

9. Heated toilet seats: 7 people

“I’m glad to be Japanese whenever I sit down on a heated toilet seat.” (28-year-old, female)

Again…it’s those toilets! Foreigners can only sigh in envy as they hear stories about the miraculous wonders of this veritable throne. Many toilet lids come equipped with a heating function, which I can say from personal experience is most welcome during those frigid winter months in homes with less than miraculous insulation.

Another heated joy in the winter are kotatsu tables. Just be warned – get all your chores done first, because once you get under that blanket, you’ll never want to come out again.

10. Konbini [convenience stores]: 5 people

“The services offered at Japanese convenience stores are truly the best and most convenient.” (25-year-old, female)

We here at RocketNews24 are big fans of the Japanese konbini. No matter where you are in Japan, a trip to the nearest convenience store is most likely just a short walk away. 7-Eleven, Lawson, FamilyMart, Sunkus…the list of their names goes on and on, but every street corner seems to boast at least one of them, and sometimes two. Also, you can do practically anything at a konbini, including buying high-quality bento and paying your bills – they really live up to the title of convenience stores. I stopped at a konbini almost every day after work to pick up odds and ends missing from my apartment. Heck, even the Dalai Lama visited one during his trip to Japan.

Other less common survey responses included:

“Elevators rarely break down.” (30-year-old, female) “Tap water is safe to drink, and water is free at restaurants.” (27-year-old, female) “I can try the food of many different countries while living in Japan.” (25-year-old, female) “Even if I don’t have much money, I can still manage to get by.” (40-year-old, female) “Public transportation usually arrives exactly on schedule.” (23-year-old, female) “There’s no conscription in Japan.” (22-year-old, female) “There are many different varieties of Japanese, and multiple nuances in the speech.” (25-year-old, female)

To tell you the truth, I’m a bit surprised that none of the respondents mentioned anything about matsuri, or festivals. The fun atmosphere of a Japanese matsuri with all the food stands, games, crowds of yukata-wearing people, and depending on the season, a parade and/or fireworks, is one of my favorite aspects of Japan. If I were Japanese, I would definitely count myself lucky to be able to experience an endless number of matsuri year after year.

Source: Niconico News

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- “I think I love you…”: Romantic confessions from around the world -- Say “I Love You” this Christmas with these Romantic Potato Chips -- Nine reasons why Japanese men hesitate to say “I love you”

© RocketNews24

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Oh, yes, the unique four seasons. No where else in the world. Snort

16 ( +20 / -5 )

Yes, I agree with most of the instances where Japanese people feel happy. But down below the surface, there are many people who have difficulty functioning in their daily lives. Japan’s young people are overworked and more exhausted. The work-related stress is a big cause of unhappiness. And young Japanese spend their weekends doing pretty much nothing. After a stressful work week, what do you do when the weekend finally arrives? Rest is recovering from the physical and mental fatigue of work.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

This covers many of the things I love about Japan as well. With the exception of manga and anime, neither of which I have any interest in whatsoever.

Oh, yes, the unique four seasons. No where else in the world. Snort

Where are they claiming that this doesn't happen anywhere else in the world? I've never understood why so many foreigners get their knickers in a twist over this one.

-10 ( +2 / -12 )

What an absolutely strange article. I'm not Japanese and yet I can do practically everything these people were talking about. Anyone can eat Japanese food if they wanted to. Hell, I can even enjoy the four seasons without leaving my own country. How about things you can or cannot do because you're Japanese. For example, being thankful you're Japanese because it means you normally have to wait for a shorter time at immigration, coming back to Narita airport? (As a re-entry permit holder, I get that advantage too). I'm thankful for my nationality because it meant I learnt some French at school and was able to function on vacation in a French speaking territory the other day whereas the Japanese tourists couldn't communicate much.

I think the question should have been 'What are the good points of Japanese culture?'. I personally would NOT include manga. We have that in our culture, but most of us outgrow it before we reach adulthood.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Most Japanese have no comparison and haven't traveled very far from their prefecture. This survey was backed of course by Abe friendly pundits who want to spur national pride onwards and upwards to their doom.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

I do find these kind of articles odd.

Related: has anyone else noticed an increase recently in the theme of "Japan is wonderful, so let's ask foreigners about it" t.v. shows? It seems every time I flip through the channels recently there is another episode celebrating Japan-ness, either within the country or abroad.

For a country that praises humility and modesty, there is something unsettling about it.

And one more: the four seasons thing? It's fairly common, and often more pleasant in other places. No rainy season, and without the brutally hot and long summers.

9 ( +15 / -6 )

I'm not Japanese and yet I can do practically everything these people were talking about. Anyone can eat Japanese food if they wanted to.

But in other countries, you cannot enjoy the same quality of Japanese food that we enjoy here on the cheap, without paying an arm and a leg. Either that or you get crap Japanese food.

the four seasons thing? It's fairly common, and often more pleasant in other places. No rainy season, and without the brutally hot and long summers.

Again, where has anyone claimed this doesn't happen in other countries?

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

Always inevitable that toilet seats and "incredibly delicious" white rice are among the top responses in these things! Im a bit surprised - like the writer - that matsuri arent near the top.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

But in other countries, you cannot enjoy the same quality of Japanese food that we enjoy here on the cheap, without paying an arm and a leg. Either that or you get crap Japanese food.

You do know the concept of tourism, don't you? As I said, I'm not Japanese and I can do all these things. They were asked the wrong question.


Related: has anyone else noticed an increase recently in the theme of "Japan is wonderful, so let's ask foreigners about it" t.v. shows?

They've had these since TV was invented. One of the reasons I sold mine. And whenever NHK's Cool Japan comes on when I'm watching my partner's TV, I switch channels. Self-ingratiating. I just don't understand why they always what to hear the (mainly white) foreigners always praising them. That always seems to be the main point of these shows. That and the continual comparison between them and us.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Think being Japanese get to watch rock and metal bands anytime!!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Only 10 instances? According to Cool Japan there should be hundreds! /s I don't know why this country constantly feels the need to remind itself how "unique and special" it is. All it does is further isolate them from other nationalities in their way of thinking which results in ignorant racism when they have to deal with foreigners. I have no problem with being proud of your nation but the way more than half of these surveys and TV shows come across it would have them believe that they are the only country in the world that does these things and that those who don't must be something along the lines of uncultured savages. The same goes for the majority of these TV programs where they go to other countries. Are they actually to teach them about other countries cultures, or let them compare it to their own so they can gloat in how much better theirs is?

8 ( +10 / -2 )

As I said, I'm not Japanese and I can do all these things. They were asked the wrong question.

And how exactly does the question or answer somehow mean that you as a foreigner cannot do these things?

I'm guessing you are a zero-sum thinker. "If they are saying that they can do it, that means that I can't"

The question was a question. The only way it could be wrong is if they had intended to ask one question, and accidentally asked another. But I'd be willing to bet that this is the question they intended to ask.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

sillygirlOct. 03, 2014 - 08:09AM JST

Oh, yes, the unique four seasons. No where else in the world. Snort

Obviously you have not travelled much. There are many places in the world that do not four distinct seasons.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

Most Japanese will favour anything Japanese simply because they are Japanese. From a young age they`ve told to think this way. Japan is a good place but no more unique than any other place.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Oh, yes, the unique four seasons. No where else in the world. Snort

Have you ever been to Britain? It's pretty difficult to say we have four distinct seasons here. We get cold and wet, windy and wet, or hot and wet. That's it. Those are our seasons usually. Occasionally there's a dry summer or a mild winter, but nothing particularly distinct. Especially when it can snow as late in the year as May, or when you have late summers like this year, where the news is saying that we've had the hottest September since the 50s. Having distinct seasons must be quite nice really, showing a clear passage of time, rather than one day melting inexorably into the next. Then of course there are countries on the equator where they pretty much only experience summer, or the poles, where even summer is little different to winter, save for the amount of sunlight they get.

I'm quite envious of Japan really. While you can get Japanese food elsewhere, unless you go to an authentic Japanese restaurant (which can be quite pricey) you won't enjoy the same quality you get in Japan. Many supermarkets sell ready made sushi. I don't recommend it. At all. Real sushi should be fresh, not mass produced on a conveyor belt and packaged, going for days or weeks before being bought. I'm especially envious of the heated toilet seats. The year before last there was a pretty harsh winter. My backside sometimes became painfully stuck to the seat, which was cold enough to make me yelp (The heater had broken down, before you ask). Of course, the Matsuri really should have been top of the list, but even without the Japanese festivals, everything on this list is worth being proud of, and why I'm envious of Japan.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

haha toilets take TWO spots in the top 10.............WTF!

While the rest listed are ok its nothing to get overly excited wonder most have so little expectations of a GOOD life here.................

Maybe when Japanese will learn what a good life is they will have a better top ten list & bump toilets off for christs sake!

I suppose I can be thankful the working for Jpn Inc didn't make the list!

3 ( +6 / -3 )

@ Strangerland:

I've never understood why so many foreigners get their knickers in a twist over this one [the four seasons].

I would suggest that non-Japanese might find it both a boring point of conversation (yawn). Something to which they say So? meaning So what? It's up there with the other common remarks about using chopsticks well, asking about hobbies, and other rote responses. In addition, non-Japanese find this "connection" to nature hypocritical.

However, after reading Japan and the Culture of the Four Seasons: Nature, Literature and the Arts by Columbia University professor Haruo Shirane, anyone interested in Japanese culture will learn that the four seasons (when there are actually 5, but the rainy/monsoon season is conveniently overlooked) are foundation of what it is to be Japanese. A foundation which is a construct that has evolved over time and can be separated into historical periods.

The four seasons inform all aspects of Japanese culture which Shirane details in the most thorough and articulate manner with excellent footnoted references. An enlightening read for anyone with a deep interest in Japan. Essential for a non-Japanese who might aspire to "read the air" because the codified elements of the four seasons are an iconography that imbues all Japanese art, literature, craftsmanship and the and the myth of Japan's harmonious relationship to nature.

Haruo Shirane: If you can tolerate the 'uh' throughout you can learn much.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

I would suggest that non-Japanese might find it both a boring point of conversation (yawn). Something to which they say So? meaning So what?

And I reply back to you with that same response - "so what?"

This is Japan. They asked questions about Japan to the Japanese. The Japanese are happy about having 4 distinctive seasons. If foreigners don't feel that is a thing worthy of appreciation, fine, they don't have to. But it's nothing to get all pissy about, as so many foreigners do. It's something that they like about their country, and they have every right to like that about their country. And if others don't like that, then so what.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

That 'Only Japan has four seasons' nonsense again. And as for the myth of clean public toilets..........

6 ( +9 / -3 )

That 'Only Japan has four seasons' nonsense again.

Where has it been said once, much less again?

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Gotta agree about Japanese food. Very good.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@strangerland - obviously you have not been asked over and over again about the Japanese four seasons (really 5 as someone else mentioned) and get the shocked reaction that where you come from there are also (my hometown) four seasons.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I wish Japanese people could proudly say that I like Japan because this country respects individual.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I think a more profitable study should be to ask the foreigners in Japan about why they're thankul they're not Japanese.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"Four distinct seasons"

Spring - hay fever

Summer - awful heat and humidity

Autumn - nice!

Winter - freezing cold

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Be thankful for you, Just way you are whether black, white yellow or red, biracial, tri-racial or mixed blood. For beating heart, and loving arms, and food to eat and ideas to share. We should be thankful that we have the capacity to create, to appreciate the old, imagine the new, and work to weave together the best of both. Above all else we should be thankful for one another.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As for public toilets, it's interesting they don't use urine cakes here, which are strong disinfectant "cakes" (!) that keep the urinal clean and pleasant smelling. When I first came here, I had to get used to the stink of the stale urine of strangers every time in public and nature called. That gave ME pangs of yearning for back home.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

“Almost all of the public toilets here are impeccably clean.”

Really? That has not been my experience, especially with the JR station bathrooms. Hard not to gag.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

That 'Only Japan has four seasons' nonsense again.

Where has it been said once, much less again?

Ask your Japanese acquaintances about the subject. I think you will find that a majority of the Japanese you ask will assume that Japan is unique in the world for its distinct four seasons.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Oddly strange to see so many people drinking Haterade. You people need to chill out.

Go around asking Muricans "when do you feel proud to be Murican," what kind of responses do you think you'll get? Aren't you at least glad that you know what Japanese people regard as special for being Japanese? Sure, not all of them may have had exposure to foreign culture overseas, but they're just telling what they like about Japan.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I am extremely curious about the three thumbs down I received for stating that fact that many Japanese people in Japan seem to feel that Japan is unique in having four distinct seasons. However, I have witnessed many conversations in which Japanese explained to their overseas guests from countries that also have four seasons that Japan is unique for having them. too.

Most Japanese misunderstand that it is not the four distinct seasons that make Japan unique. It is how they celebrate them, as mentioned in the article above. A Japanese academic many years ago talked about this and somehow it got misunderstood by Japanese people in general as referring to the seasons themselves and not to the Japanese culture of celebrating them.

So, thumbs downers, perhaps you could speak to this?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

philly1, that sounds like a good read. I'll look it up.

I do remember when I first heard the "Japan has four seasons" I was a little surprised. It sounded like saying, "Japan has a sun and moon"

But, it's really a thing here. Even city-born and -bred Japanese love their seasons. I see it mostly having to do with food. They love buying seasonal products or "limited edition" flavors of foods. In the U.S. convenience is getting most anything any time if the year--we have a few seasonal things like watermelons in summer and pumpkins in fall and eggnog in winter, but the Japanese have preserved the joy of waiting all year to eat something for a short time until next year to a greater degree, and this extends not just to fruits, veggies and seafood but to junk foods as well, you can get seasonal flavors of ice cream, cookies, chips, etc. many more times than just 4 a year, I think!

And then there are things like, "cicadas start buzzing at this time" "leaves start turning at this time" and cherry blossom forecasts, etc., on the whole Japanese weather and seasons follow highly predictable patterns. Yes it's commercialized, and urbanized, but the worship of seasons is something different from back home.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"And one more: the four seasons thing? It's fairly common, and often more pleasant in other places. No rainy season, and without the brutally hot and long summers."

Are you kidding me? I much prefer a 4 season with plenty of rain and heat, versus one where winter is below 20 degrees Celsius and the sky looks bleak like it's the end of the world for most of Autumn and Winter!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I've never understood why so many foreigners get their knickers in a twist over this one.

Maybe because there is a significant portion of the population that believes this is (yet another phenomenon) unique to Japan.

A benefit to the sense of seasonality, though, is largely having food in season only, and not airfreighted from the southern hemisphere or points in between year round, like in some countries.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

All this says is the Japanese people are way too provincial. And who are we kidding? They are. The fact that the food is recognized by the UN as this or that is nonsense at best. Who paid whom for that distinction? Too few people in the world eat it for it to garner that distinction. Also, all foods are good and no food should be put on a higher level than other foods in the first place. Not even French food should have that distinction, but I can understand that better than Japanese food. (Don't get me wrong, I like it, but not better than other foods. WHY? Because I have experience eating other foods. No, I am not talking about fast food or McDonald's, KFC and Saeziriya. )

And some of the replies given i.e, four seasons, safety and so many other things, make one think that Japan is way to sheltered in its view of itself and other countries. Way to naive about how great the world is outside. How much better so many things are outside of Japan and they dont realize it at all. This system here breeds ignorance of reality and arrogance in many areas.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Loving Japanese nadeshiko wife....I have one...but I'm not Japanese...
0 ( +0 / -0 )

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