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10 things Japan does better than anywhere else

By Casey Baseel

Advertising agency Dentsu recently released the results of its annual Japan Brand Survey, in which it asks people from around the world for their opinion on the country. This year’s study involved 3,600 men and women living in 17 different countries, whose responses were used to compile a list of 10 things they feel Japan does better than anywhere else in the world.

In carrying out the survey, Dentsu spoke with people living in China, Hong King, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, the U.S., Brazil, UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia. All participants were between the ages of 20 and 59, with middle or upper-class incomes.

Roughly 80% of those questioned said they had either plans or a desire to visit Japan, a jump of more than 7% from last year’s survey. When asked what intrigued them about Japan, the most common response was the country’s cuisine. Its numerous travel destinations, both urban and rural, came in second, and Japanese fashion rounded out the top three.

Being an advertising firm, though, Dentsu’s primary concern is with the perception of Japanese goods and services. To get a better grip on how people abroad feel about things stamped “made in Japan,” researchers asked participants what they felt Japan does better than anywhere else, resulting in the list below.

10. Video games

It’s a sign of the times that Japan’s video game makers, who created and for years dominated the modern industry, only barely managed to crack the top 10. Still, even as overseas companies continue to make strides in the arenas of smartphone and social gaming, for some fans there’s just no substitute for a Japanese-made game.

9. Transportation infrastructure

It’s telling that the list was compiled from responses from people who live outside Japan, and not in it. Residents have a number of valid complaints about the country’s narrow roads, expensive expressways, and difficult to find parking. If you’re a traveler though, or anyone else using public transportation in Japan, there’s a lot to be thankful for, as it’s hard to imagine the train and subway network being much more efficient or punctual than it already is (quibbles about service ending shortly after midnight notwithstanding).

8. Environmental engineering

7. Food

No arguments here. While sushi was the dish most respondents reported eating, wanting to try, or just simply knowing about, Japanese food has a wealth of delicious dishes, ranging from subtle delicacies like tofu and lotus root to heartier fare such as ramen and the cabbage-and-pork-filled crepes called okonomiyaki.

6. 3D technology

5. Precision engineering

4. Cars/motorcycles

Japan still may not be able to match Germany’s cachet in the luxury segment, and it’s facing ever-increasing pressure in the economy class from American and Korean manufacturers. That said, Japanese marques are still the go-to choice for many looking for reliably-made transportation, eco-friendly hybrid and electric vehicles, or a lightweight rear-wheel drive sports car.

3. Robotics

Build a dancing robot like Honda’s ASIMO, earn a rep for robotics. Simple as that.

2. Anime/manga

This one might be a bit of a linguistic technicality here. While in Japanese, the words anime and manga refer to cartoons and comics respectively, regardless of country of origin, among the international community, the terms generally refer to works made in Japan. For a lot of people, saying that Japan makes the best anime and manga is like saying Alaska produces the best Alaskan king crab.

Also, some fans are looking for completely different things from Japanese and non-Japanese animation. This makes the question of whether Japan produces “better” cartoons a tricky one to answer, sort of like asking, “Which is superior, a bicycle or an ocean freighter?” Sure, they’re both vehicles, but designed with completely different things in mind, and one isn’t really a substitute for the other.

Setting all that aside, though, if you want to see robots fighting, giant-eyed characters slowly falling in love, or some combination of the two, odds are the Japanese anime industry’s got you covered.

1. Audio/video electronics

Once again, Japan doesn’t have the same iron grip on this segment that it used to. Even as manufacturers from other countries offer alternatives with lower prices and passable quality, though, Japan still has the image of making some of the best-performing consumer electronics money can buy.

Source: Niconico News

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Does any other country in the world have the arrogance and lack of self-awareness to produce a survey like this?

-1 ( +23 / -25 )

Game consoles, not games per se apart from a few cases software developers in the west are the leaders in games development.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

Japan is tops in Customer Service . . . . . .It was TOYOTA that introduced the idea of CUSTOMER SATISFACTION INDEX, which later became an integral component for assessing dealerships rankings in the automobile industry

11 ( +17 / -6 )

Electronics... You have specialists but now equipment is manufactured overseas...

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I admit Japan does many things well, including the manufacturing of electronics (although their prowess has become pretty irrelevant over the past several years), but the survey isn't saying much:

All participants were between the ages of 20 and 59, with middle or upper-class incomes

So Dentsu just refused to count responses from those with lower incomes? Or refused to ask them? Yeah, this survey seems legit.

Cars... Japanese marques are still the go-to choice for many looking for reliably-made transportation, eco-friendly hybrid and electric vehicles, or a lightweight rear-wheel drive sports car.

Agreed, Japanese are great at making, with a few exceptions, bland-looking autos that are reliable and eco-friendly yet fail to look remotely cool or provide drivers with an invigorating, fun driving experience. What 9 year old has a poster of a Prius on his bedroom wall?


The blurb in this category mentions Japanese food only. How is this even a legitimate thing to ask? Of course the Japanese are the best at Japanese food! And they are pretty good at making decent dishes of other cuisines as well (although I've never once had a really good burrito in my 8 years spent searching for one in Tokyo). But I refuse to believe that folks from 17 different countries said that Japanese do "food" in general better than anyone else.

Things that should have made the list: Awesome toilets, fireworks and service.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Japan is far from tops in customer service, which can be incredibly rigid and inflexible. What other country would manufacture and sell computer hardware and say, "We do not have English drivers" or "We do not support English Windows." Another good example is this conversation I had in a coffee shop.

"I'd like an iced coffee, please." "No." "Why not?" "It's October" "But it's hot today. Do you have ice?" "Yes." "And coffee?" "Yes." "So you can make iced coffee." "No." "Why not?" "It's October."

At least the article points out that this is what people think. Being an advertising firm, though, Dentsu’s primary concern is with the perception of Japanese goods and services. However, it is not the reality. It’s telling that the list was compiled from responses from people who live outside Japan, and not in it.

14 ( +24 / -10 )

Audio / Video: This list is 10 years old, pretty sure apple won the audio war, beats won the headphone war, and I dont recall the last time anyone used a walkman or MD for anything.

3D tech: Absolutely no, no 3D tech is made from Japan.

Robots: Maybe... there are no Japanese robots used at the Fukashima nuclear plant

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

Oh god these comments...... people don't even know what they are writing

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

What? loosing 20 thousand odd people a year didn't make the list? Corruption? Nuclear accidents, child porn?

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Crappy surveys and NOT true results like this give people of Japan, or anyone that reads this article, a sense that their country is actually doing well. Sorry writer ....

-5 ( +8 / -13 )

The list seems about a decade out of date...


Couldn't agree more. Everything runs like a well-oiled machine but the second that, heaven forbid, you don't want onions on this or you need you dry cleaning a day earlier for whatever reason - the wheels fall off!

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Video games ? 15 years ago Japan was overwhelmingly dominating. Today, best developers are all over the world, but Japan.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

This list is what Japan did well 25 years ago.

1 ( +10 / -9 )

Strange survey; everybody knows Japan is still good, but loosing its edge in high-tech to South Korea and the U.S. among others.

Here is my list, for what it is worth:

Customer service Public transport Food (even Michelin agrees) Alcoholic drinks & drinking culture (except beer, which is just OK, but strangely lacks variety) Public safety AV Toilets Pens and all kinds of stationary (Japan wins hands down, just compare Loft with Office Depot...) Women's fashion Men's crazy haircuts (nothing to like, but you have to hand it to them)
10 ( +14 / -4 )

"heartier fare such as ramen"

That stuff is not good for your heart.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Japan is good a practical stuff.

Cheap quartz and solar watches. I am especially partial to quartz watches. Luxury watches? Well...

Cameras. From professional to single use.

Film. This country still loves film. Easy to have developed.

Gun control. Very strict. No NRA and Second Amendment. No worries about being shot at school.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Tell those surveyed to come and live here. They may have a very different opinion. Half the stuff on this list is not essential anyway.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Not sure I can agree here. Japan has top notch things to be sure...but the best in the world? A lot of others already covered many points, but still some very odd statements here.

10) I remember Wii-U and 3DS floundering in the market. Their star brands (Mario, Pokemon) always do well, but then again so does Madden. It may sell, but it's not exactly innovation here.

9) Transit? The trains are great. Buses too... but only in major cities.

But the roads...? Not so much. As the article said, residents and tourists have different opinions. In my mind, Japan being the #3 economy in the world, with a MUCH smaller population than #1 and #2, there really is no excuse for it to take 10 hours from Ehime to Tokyo by highway when I can drive from Virginia to Disney Florida in 14. I'm used to the states where the highways have multiple lanes and are straight all the way...not to mention free.

Additionally, tourists typically only go to Tourist areas- it would be similar to a foreigner basing all of America's transit while only visiting DC, LA or NY. Not saying it's all terrible, but it is certainly not the best in the world.

Like some of you I'm surprised that the really interesting/unique things aren't listed: For example a much more open/tolerant society regarding fringe hobbies ("Otaku" culture, taking pictures of trains, collecting dolls, wearing sheer body suits..)

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Food? Seriously?!

-5 ( +8 / -13 )

patting itself on the back.

Don't travel much, huh?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Food, whiskey and cars. These surveys are just a bit of fun. I'm Australian and we are always going on about how good our stuff is compared to other countries... sometimes it's better and sometimes it's not.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It may be a bit outdated, but these things are all relative to the respondent. I'm from Australia and I would tick trains everytime (unless I'm travelling to say, the interior of Shikoku or the Satsuma peninsula). Aussie public transport (especially Sydney's Cityrail) is just PLAIN AWFUL The food on the other hand is a mixed bag - I enjoy the sushi and kaiseki, but many others you can find in most major cities around the world anyway. (That being said, for low cost I still am partial to Yoshinoya).

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The number 1 thing that Japan does better than anywhere else is praise celebrities for doing absolutely nothing. "Oh, you haven't been relevant recently? No problem, how about an award for being the person who is best at tying shoelaces?"

8 ( +12 / -4 )

I agree with the list, but it seems a little bit odd. Perhaps because it was compiled by people who haven't been to Japan. I would throw in that list:

Mountains (in Spring) Men's and women's bags (learned to use them in Japan) Shoes (nice too) Rakuten Combini Depatos Mini wagon cars

and finally

Leaving Japan behind.
-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Does anyone else find this constant need to hear people say "Oh yes, you are the best, your food is unique and delicious, you have reliable trains" a bit desperate?

I had a girlfriend like this once. "Is she prettier than me? Is this meal I made for you delicious? Do you think I'm kawaai?"

Dear god she was exhausting. And not in a good way.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

More likely 10 things Japan used to do better than anywhere else.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Food again. I've been to countries famous for great cuisine such as France, Italy, China and Thailand and while many are proud of their food, they didn't constantly and boringly harp on about it, fish for compliments or ask me to compare it favourably with other cuisines. Yes, Japanese food is good - full stop. Can we please leave it at that?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Harald, yes, annoying and inane. Japanese food is far from being the most popular feed in the world and I don't believe surveys that come up with crud like, "I really want to eat tofu and lotus root". Anyone who believes this is a real survey of real people and has not been doctored in any way wants looking at. Japan does some great things, but its cuisine is mainly Chinese hand-me-downs with the flavour removed. Japan doing "manga" best is hardly a surprise. Apple and Google own computing and electronics these days. Japanese cars are great, but they're no better than European cars. Environmental engineering? What kind of tourist knows enough about environmental engineering to give an informed opinion? Absolute twaddle.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Environmental engineering

I'm curious about "environmental engineering," which made number eight on the list. Also, when asked what Japan does better than other countries, a significant number of people opted for environmental engineering?

Anyway, Wikipedia defines it, in part, as: "Environmental engineering is the integration of science and engineering principles to improve the natural environment, to provide healthy water, air, and land for human habitation and for other organisms, and to clean up pollution sites."

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Video games?! When ever? I started in the 90s, when PC gaming was cutting edge, and setting the stage for today's industry. Online gaming, 3d graphics, etc were pioneered on the Windows platform by US and a few European developers. Remember the flight simulators?

Where were the Japanese? I had to import all my hardware and software because this country was totally out of it, apart from a few simple titles for little kids and street fighting fans.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Japanese women; Japan does Japanese women better than anywhere else. You can stick the rest of the list

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No1 at child porn according to yesterday's story. At least there is something Japan does well.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I do like lists. Here's my top ten things Japan does best:

Inane TV programmes Train molesters Concrete Cup noodles Pointless "rules" Bidet toilets Homeless tarpaulin shelters Walking in the middle of the road Nuclear energy safety cover-ups Poor quality software

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Some great comments here. Well done. Can see the difference in opinion of people living outside vs inside Japan. I agree with some things on the list. Transportation? A big YES! But Manga? Who cares? And food? No way! Maybe if you can afford to eat at the restaurants Michelin recommends, but for the average Joe the food is basically......ah...........brown.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Folks, take it easy on the responders to this survey will ya haha!!

I mean they are likely only responding about 10things they know Japan has/does, they likely are NOT actually thinking Japan is the "best" at ___

At best they are listing what they have heard about, maybe experienced. And if they have never been here, well the rice fields looks greener over here, especially in June haha!!!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Video games : granted Japan leads in making games that turn kids (and some adults) into screen staring, anti-social addicts.

Transportation infrastructure: Yep, but Singapore gives them a good run for their money

Environmental engineering: Why no explanation or examples? Japan is not where near the top nation in development of wind turbines.

Food: People develop their taste for food from the early environment. "Mom's pot roast is best". Even Kansai people and Kanto people can't agree on what tastes good. I know many people from South East Asia who think all Japanese Food tastes bland.

3D technology and 5. Precision engineering: Again, how so? No examples.

Cars/motorcycles: Okay, I'll buy that.

Robotics: Who the hell needs a dancing robot? Granted the Japanese are good at robotic manufacture but best? The U.S. has two robots on Mars that wee designed for 90 days missions and have been chugging along for over 10 years. Spirit in now stuck in Martian sand but is still sending back data as a stationary platform, Opertunity is still truckin'.

Anime/manga: Seriously? Pixar might have something to say about animat
0 ( +4 / -4 )

Oh god these comments...... people don't even know what they are writing

looking for students?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

If we think about the agricultural crisis this nation now faces with dying farm communities and the fact that most Japanese food is no longer Japanese, we can scratch food off the list.

Precision engineering?? Anybody remember Fukushima?

The rest of the items basically reinforce the common idea in Japan that nature is here to be transformed, not admired as is. Something to be proud of?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

And nobody mentioned love hotels? That makes me sad.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Hampton - as always, sir, you're right on the money.

I have been fortunate enough to visit quite a few countries, and without exception every one of them has its own food culture, its own local dishes, made from food in season, and of which the locals are justifiably proud. And they all taste great, and I've enjoyed them all.

People all over the world work on the assumption that you'll enjoy their food. Because they' wouldn't eat it themselves if it didn't taste nice. And if you are rude enough to say you don't like what you're given, oh dear, how sad, never mind, all the more for me.

It's only here where I've had the constant, needy, insistence that "Look! Foreigner people love our food, so it must be the best in the world"

It really does seem very insecure, and a bit desperate.

And it wouldn't be so bad if they didn't think it was perfectly acceptable to sit right in front of you and tell you most people agree your own food culture is as appetising as the contents of a baby's nappy. That's OK, but unless I agree that the tempura you've given me is a) not a Portuguese dish and b) better than anything I've ever eaten, I am a Japan-basher.

Nobody has ever travelled all the way to Japan to eat tofu. It is really all a bit sad.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Better than anywhere else bar none is stretching it, but this list isn't controversial, The Japanese tend to be considered leaders in most of these fields.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It's fine until The Manuel ditches, 'NO'. Lunch menu at 11:55? No. Hot coffee in August? NO. I think others have mentioned this above. The all Powerful Manuel.

0 ( +1 / -1 )


-1 ( +0 / -1 )

All participants were between the ages of 20 and 59, with middle or upper-class incomes the article stated. I just wonder how many 20-25 year old or even up to age 30 have a middle or upper-class income. I think this statement stood out tome the most.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nasty comments or not i still prefer here living than anywhere else in the world...and im asking you those who commenting bad ..why are you here? LMAO!

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

Readers, no more Japan-bashing on this thread please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

anime/manga should be #1

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Simona Stanzani - why? There are comics and cartoons in most developed countries, and they often lead to international cinematic entertainment - Disney was a cartoonist/illustrator, and I have yet to see any Japanese cartoons have a comparable impact overseas as Disney had in Japan.

Bat-Man? Superman? Global phenomena. Ghibli? Niche market, unknown by most of the world's population.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Surveys are very difficult to trust unless they are divided into groups - foreigners who have lived in a country for a long time, visitors, locals and age groups. As a foreigner who has lived in Japan for most of her life, I would state the following - Japan is tops in safety/public transportation/convenience/cleanliness/politeness. As far as I'm concerned, that is of the utmost importance. But, if I have to complain about something, it still is a red-tape country where people are still unable to make simple decisions by themselves, a somewhat robotic nation that is not going to change in the near future. That is my only gripe but, compared to other countries, Japan is still one of the best countries to live in and visit!

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Anna Louise, only women go for cleanliness amongst the Japanese. Unfortunately many Japanese men do not wash their hands after using the toilet. It's repulsive to watch men walk out of cubicles and not wash their hands; this is the absolute worst thing about the country and I see it happen on a weekly basis. I don't think it's polite to be informed that you cannot rent an apartment because you're not Japanese. It's not polite to have people continually fail to arrive for private and business appointments, usually without even saying anything. Sitting on a train snorting back snot is foul and it happens on every single train ride I ever take. Slurping food at around 80 decibels is hardly pleasant either. There's lots of nodding and bowing, but I don't think that equals politeness. Japan is safe, but is not the safest country in the world. There are still no laws banning racial discrimination, and there should be. I agree Japan is one of the best countries to live in, but not for the reasons given.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Bat-Man? Superman? Global phenomena. Ghibli? Niche market, unknown by most of the world's population.

That means Batman and Superman comics are of higher artistic caliber than Studio Ghibli's work? Please.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Kei Kurooka - Hit the nail right on the head ! Exactly !

0 ( +2 / -2 )

i've been to several asian countries and japan was honestly the only one where ordinary people would pick up trash off the street. where a japanese farmer (who didn't know me) gave me 2 bags and said I could pick any of his fruit I wanted (because he had an abundance)

maybe it's because i'm white/american, i don't know. but everyone was extremely nice and very welcoming when I visited japan. granted, i was hours west of tokyo in the mountains, so i'm not sure what the big city is like, but i do know everyone where i stayed for 2 weeks left a very good impression on me and i will never forget it.

so in my opinion i think japan does niceness/thoughtfulness and simply being a very respectful people better than anyone else.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

My list.


Public transportation Drinking / bar culture Cleanliness of cities Traditional architecture (Love it and always will) General convenience of life


Workplace culture Urban green space Women's rights Psychology / Psychiatry Innovation / Entrepreneurship
0 ( +1 / -1 )

11) Sexualizing youths

Awesome at that! lol

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

OMG Why does the guy 8 years in Japan, naming himself after Japanese food, complain the loudest about Japan and Japanese food??? Maybe I'm just stupid, but maybe middle class and upper class were involved with the survey because these are the people most likely able to afford Japanese products and a visit to Japan. If too many lower class people were asked, with ZERO experience in Japan, and ZERO chance of ever going or buying any Japanese products, the results would likely be even more skewed than they already are . . .

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

'Nasty comments or not i still prefer here living than anywhere else in the world...and im asking you those who commenting bad ..why are you here? LMAO!'

One thing Japanese people are certainly not good at is accepting criticism. The gaijin interviewed on the street for TV programs are generally asked to 'Name your favourite Japanese.....' or 'What is the best thing about Japan?' type questions. There are good and bad things about every country, but being constantly asked to comment on only the good gets a bit irritating. I object to being treated as a guest or a host-club clown after 15 years here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kei Kurooka: Nasty comments or not i still prefer here living than anywhere else in the world...and im asking you those who commenting bad ..why are you here? LMAO!

Because it's nice. And nice things usually aren't perfect. And it's fine to talk about the flaws of things you like.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I love my life in Japan but 'weirdos' should be pretty high up that list as well!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It's true: these 10 things made better than anywhere else; also Japanese one thing is worse than anywhere else, which is moral.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Why is food on this list?

Perhaps Casey is comparing Japan with the U.S.A. and ignoring the rest of the world.

Places with GREAT food:







The UK

And, I'm sure there are many other places around the world that I've never been to that also have excellent food. I don't think it's only Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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