lifestyle

Five things expats wish Japan had

109 Comments
By Casey Baseel, RocketNews24

For the most part, Japan is a pretty great country to live in. Among a host of other positives, it’s clean and safe, with good infrastructure and reliable transportation.

Still, some people move to Japan and find that even if they like the overall package, it doesn’t quite have all the comforts of home. Today, we’re taking a look at a list compiled by blogger Madame Riri of five things expats wish Japan had, plus adding our own explanation of why it’s sometimes a good thing that it doesn’t.

1. More convenient ATMs

Starting off with the most legitimate complaint, and one that featured on our own list of 10 things Japan gets horribly wrong a while back, Japan does lag pretty far behind many other countries as far as letting you get to your cash. As you can see in the above photo, ATMs are often located inside banks, meaning that once the building closes up for the day, there’s no way to get to the machines. And while 24-hour ATMs are slowly becoming more common, you’ll often be charged a service fee if you make a withdrawal outside of normal business hours, even if you’re using your own bank’s machines.

So how do Japanese people deal with this? They just carry a lot of cash. The laughably low crime rate means there’s very little chance of someone swiping the yen you’ve got in your pocket, and the ubiquity of cash payments means you can walk into any convenience store, whip out a 10,000-yen bill to pay for a 100-yen bottle of tea, and no one will ever make a fuss about making change for it.

As an added bonus, using cash comes with a couple of psychological influences that can help you make more responsible spending choices. It makes the financial ramifications of a purchase feel much more immediate, and can act as a safeguard against the sort of irresponsible splurging that many feel illogically comfortable engaging in with a credit card. Likewise, not being able to draw money out of your bank account whenever and wherever the impulse strikes you can be helpful if you’re trying to stick to a budget, since you can’t spend any more than have on hand until the next time you’re able to get to one of Japan’s less-than-convenient ATMs.

2. Central heating and air conditioning

Another major complaint from expats living in Japan is that homes aren’t designed with central heating and air conditioning. If you’re used to the convenience and uniform temperatures of such systems, it can be a shock when you’re relaxing comfortably in your toasty living room with the heater on full blast, then get up to grab a snack and discover that your kitchen is freezing cold.

Except, centralized heating is really only a plus when everyone in the home wants it the same temperature. Got a house with one side that gets a lot of sun, and the other that’s shady during the winter? Sorry, with centralized heating that pumps the same temperature air into both areas, one of them is always going to be too hot or too cold.

While Japanese homes do have the drawback of needing to install a separate compact unit for each room, the upside is that you can set each one to whatever temperature you want, independent the others. The smaller, non-connected units also mean you’re not wasting energy (and money) heating a room no one’s currently using, and many Japanese homes are designed so that rooms can be completely closed off from one another. Not only does that make them easier to defend in the case of a zombie outbreak, it also means you can heat a smaller room up pretty easily with a compact space heater, since the warm air isn’t seeping out into the rest of the house.

3. “Skinship”

Japan isn’t a touchy-feely society, so it’s kind of strange that it has its own catch-all term for signs of physical affection, “skinship.” For foreigners dating a Japanese national, the skinship discrepancy isn’t much of a problem, as most international couples establish a mutually amicable middle ground during the early stages of their relationship.

Where the real complaint comes in is the almost complete lack of casual physical contact between platonic friends. Used to giving your pals a hug when you see them for the first time in months? Feel like that awesome home run the Hiroshima Carps’ cleanup batter just hit deserves a high-five with your buddies you’re watching the game with? Probably not going to happen in Japan.

On the other hand, this cuts both ways. So while you may feel a little lonely at not having the skinship from friends you’d welcome it from, it also means your creepy, perpetually sweaty coworker probably won’t be looking for a good-bye squeeze at the end of the company New Year’s party.

4. A bigger selection of large-size clothing and shoes

Obviously, not everyone in Japan is the same height and weight. Walk into Uniqlo, Beams, or any other clothing store, and you’ll find the standard small, medium, and large options.

On average, though, these tend to be smaller than their equivalents in the west. And while there are retailers that specialize in extra-large fashion (which in the case of men is often given the regal-sounding title “king-size”), they’re not as numerous, nor their options as diverse, as similar outlets overseas. If your need for large sizes is the result of being, by Japanese standards, particularly tall or muscular, or in possession of a large skeletal frame, this can make shopping tough, especially when buying business wear, as the fitted look is generally the most popular in Japan.

On the other hand, if you’re having trouble fitting into Japanese clothing options not because of your height or bulging biceps, but because you could stand to lose a few pounds, having your clothing options otherwise become severely limited is a pretty good incentive for getting in shape. And if everything still feels snug, you can at least take solace that once summer comes, you’ll be able to spend at least some of your time in a light, loose-fitting summer kimono, provided you brush up on how to tie the sash.

5. Inexpensive pizza

Finally, we come to the last item on the list. Pizza is actually pretty popular in Japan, and you’re unlikely to find anyone outside the elderly who actually dislikes it. That said, pizza, and Italian food in general, occupies a slightly different part of the culinary landscape in Japan than it does in, say, the U.S.

While Italian food isn’t considered full-on ethnic cuisine in Japan, there’s a certain Continental cachet Italian restaurants enjoy here. This can in turn translate to higher prices, albeit with the payoff of high-quality pizza, often prepared by chefs who trained in Italy before coming back to Japan and opening their own restaurants.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have delivery outfits like Domino’s and Pizza-La. While neither tastes bad for delivery food, here the price can be a deal-breaker, with large pizzas often costing over 3,000 yen each. So why are Japanese customers willing to pay so much? Well, pizza, especially in the home, is considered sort of a special occasion food. It’s much more likely that a Japanese family is calling up Domino’s because it’s someone’s birthday or some other celebration is going on than because no one wants to cook, which makes them that much more willing to splurge.

But while Japan may often assume that high price must equal high quality, the stigma that low price is the sign of a poor product is rapidly eroding. In recent years, a number of budget-priced casual pizzerias have opened up, such as Sempre Pizza and Napoli’s. Both have a wide variety of perfectly tasty individual-sized pizzas costing less than 1,000 yen, with Sempre’s starting at an amazingly low 380 yen.

Still, it’s true that finding reasonably priced pizza can require a bit of searching in Japan. Of course, while you’re searching, you’re also going to be surrounded by the biggest selection of authentic, inexpensive, and delicious Japanese food on the planet, and the fact that your go-to comfort food is looking a little pricy can just the push that gets you out of your dining rut and lets you discover a new favorite dish.

So to recap, would we sometimes prefer if these five things were more common in Japan? Sure, but with a willingness to adapt and look at things from a new perspective, sometimes you’re better off without them. Besides, if your primary goal was to get some cheap pizza and you ended up in Japan, we’re pretty sure you got on the wrong plane at the airport.

Source: Madame Riri

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- In the mood for love and pizza? Domino’s will deliver your pie with romantic kabe-don wall pound -- Domino’s Pizza Japan offers dinner and a show with new toppings and a Hatsune Miku mini-concert -- 10 Japanese foods you can make at home

© Japan Today

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109 Comments
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Good 5 choices. What else, hmmm

A garbage disposal

More Cereal choices
9 ( +13 / -5 )

Some more damn space.

7 ( +14 / -7 )

Good cheese and imported beer at a decent prices.

28 ( +30 / -2 )

Clothes driers in homes! Tired of seeing underwear hang in perfectly manicured Japanese gardens!

-10 ( +15 / -24 )

For me it was the lack of a proper fish and chip shop. But I was such as happy Brit when Malins opened in Tokyo :D

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Tattoo policy. Japan lags FAR behind the rest of the world in this. Yakuza?? Get real. It will be interesting to see how Japan deals with this during the Olympics, both fans and athletes. Check out some of the foreign rugby players here.

-8 ( +10 / -19 )

The conbini has ATMs that are open 24-7.

There are chain stores dedicated for big size clothes.

It's a different culture, get use to it.

Central heating is a waste of energy and source of global warming, I wish people will trim up on energy consumption.

You can pick up a cheap large size frozen pizza at Gyomu Super. Slice up your favorite toppings and pop it into the oven.

-16 ( +23 / -39 )

Decent Mexican food 2, Forget the price, what about better tasting pizza Better deodorant Freeways (as opposed to expressways with expensive toll charges) Better Social Security IDs
5 ( +13 / -8 )

Pashaw! Where does the author find these people?!? The five things expats want are:

Taco Bell

Japan has a whole lotta good and cheap fast food. Why not Taco Bell? Oh, yeah. Because Japanese are crazy! They think all beans have to be sweetened. AIZUKIIIIIIII---------!

Smoking bans in restaurants

Breakfast Joints

Japanese eggs are really good. Japanese pork belly is really good. Now, all you need is some toast not as thick as a futon and a diner in which to eat it and you've got your basic American Breakfast.

But no. Why god, why!?!!!

Cheap(er) beer (Not happosyu!)

Sure, Japanese lager is pretty damn good. But it ain't even near cheap. Long Live Germany!!!

Central heating.

OK, that one is right.

But its bad. So, long live space heaters!

-5 ( +10 / -16 )

ATMs? There are plenty....everywhere!

Japan needs better food. Everything is full of fishy stuff, bits of bacon....basically, dead animals. It lags way behind the west in terms of decent food.

-21 ( +13 / -33 )

SamuraiBlue hit it correct on everything.

This country is full of pork, pork, pork. Why no Liverwurst?

Also, I wish Japanese people had the ability to not let a door slam in my face.

-1 ( +13 / -13 )

Whoever wrote this doesn't know much about central heating, you don't have to heat the entire home, use radiators you can turn off them in rooms you don't want to heat. Japan needs properly insulated homes, them maybe people wouldn't need so much heating.

The pizza here is horrible, the supermarket ones are disgusting, I wouldn't eat them if they were cheap.

This country needs proper cheese. And bread.

And for the love of sanity sort out the bloody awful telly.

15 ( +28 / -14 )

[japan] lags way behind the west in terms of decent food.

Alert! Alert! Alert! The age-old Japanese food is wonderful v Japanese food sucks 'debate' at 12:00. Take evasive maneuvers!

6 ( +11 / -5 )

Fruitcake. Simply not available.

-6 ( +8 / -13 )

Fruitcake. Simply not available.

And this is a bad thing?

;)

11 ( +17 / -7 )

More convenient ATMs

This was a problem 15 years ago. These days, not so much. If you use Shinsei bank, you can use any 7-11 ATM in the country without service charges, and 7-11s are more plentiful here than the bank machines for my bank back in the homeland.

Central heating and air conditioning

All good until you have to pay for it. Non-central air conditioning and heating is expensive enough. Unnecessarily heating the whole house at today's prices (thanks for nothing Tepco) would remove the need for heating for most people, as their blood would boil when they received their bill for said heating.

“Skinship”

I got use to (the lack of) this. Now I feel a little out of my element when I go home and everyone wants to hug. I'm ok with it (and I do hug everyone), but it doesn't really bother me either way.

A bigger selection of large-size clothing and shoes

This one can be difficult. I can't buy shoes in Japan, or at least it's really difficult, and almost impossible to find sneakers I like. Fortunately I travel overseas a lot, so I buy shoes when I'm in other countries. Clothes are too bad though - often I see clothes I like (good style here), but cannot get in my size. Slimming down over the past few years has helped though, as it has opened up the clothes I can wear. But for anyone bigger, basically they have to shop overseas, or where not-so-desireable clothes.

That said, I don't see how this can really change - no one is going to create a supply for a demand that doesn't exist. There just isn't enough demand for larger sized clothes to make it profitable for most companies to make clothes in larger sizes.

Inexpensive pizza

I miss this. I pretty much always order pizza when I'm overseas, so I can get a nice, fat cheesy pizza at a reasonable price.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Strangerland

Skinship. Some people have promoted this lie that We in the West are grabbing and fondling and hugging and patting each other all day every day.

It bothers me. I hand shake or a pat on the back is good enough. I like hugging as much as the next guy -- but only people close to me. And dogs.

And don't get me started on the kiss hello. Its obnoxious, presumptuous and just plain rude. No, I don't want to kiss you, thank you very much.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

ATM's are not a problem anymore now that pretty much every convenience store in the country has 24 hour ATMs Yes! Let's get on this problem. Don't notice it I can see how this could be a problem for people. I wear US size 12 and I've always been able to find shoes. I'm right at the limit that most stores cater to. Lucky me. For casual clothing that fits well, Uniqlo is the store of choice. For work clothes I get everything custom made (not that expensive). Yea, large pizza at pizza hut is 3,000+...Not fun
6 ( +8 / -2 )

Gotta agree with Kelly. Having a dryer for your washed clothes makes life eassier. Japan looks "ghetto" when I see them old, faded Danchi buildings with laundry hanging on all the balconies.

-16 ( +4 / -20 )

Less overhead power lines...

16 ( +19 / -4 )

Not sure if this article was posted before, but I saw this somewhere and it might have been quite awhile ago. Let me see, after 41 years here I would like to see.

Less construction work and painters who walk their way through our neighborhood and soon after, something is going on. They are rather noisy and seem to have any hours to start and finish their daily work that they want.

Big oil trucks (that can be heard just because of their size) WITHOUT loud speakers telling of their arrival! They pretty much come the same time when they come.

A visit to my neighbors' homes. Though we gather for cleaning our area twice a year, I have NEVER been in their home.

Not to fear an imminent earthquake. Have gotten a bit phobic about that possibility.

A basement would be nice to have my own 'karaoke' room!

I agree on central heating, but can't imagine the electric bill we might get!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@elizabeth : always cracks me up when I hear brits complaining about bad food in Japan.

6 ( +16 / -11 )

People seem to think 'expat' means 'American'..... We don't all need or want junk food available 24/7, nor are we interested in upping the per capita fuel consumption through the use of unnecessary central heating, or using electricity to dry clothes when there's perfectly good sun and wind out there ready to do it for free.

ATMs used to be a problem, but not any more.

Everyday TV is pretty dire, but I don't get much time to watch anyway. The hard disc on the video recorder is usually pretty full of stuff I wanted to watch and haven't gotten around to yet. Not much of it Japanese in origin - mainly BBC documentaries and a few dramas with real acting.

My own list -

1.Crumpets. I've tried making my own, hasn't been a success so far. Can't get the holes to stick.

2.Good cheese costs an arm and a leg. Making your own is fun, but it can be pretty time-consuming and at the amateur level you don't always get quite what you're aiming for. And having to wait months for that Cheddar to mature doesn't help when you want it now.

3.Christmas. Strawberry shortcake and KFC, everything over by the morning of the 25th, just doesn't do it.

4.Rhubarb. It doesn't thrive here.

5.Proper vegetarian menus and the understanding that if it's got seafood, chicken or bacon in it, even chopped into tiny tiny pieces, it ain't vegetarian.

Looks like my list is exclusively food-based. Probably says more about me than about Japan. :-)

7 ( +20 / -14 )

I'd like to see crisps that taste of something other than salt, nori (salty seaweed) or consomme (wet salt), for those of us who aren't prepared to fork out 400 yen for something with a bit of taste to it.

A good variety of Walkers or McCoys, reasonably priced, would go down a treat.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

1) Cricket

2) Lancashire cheese

3) Cold, grey blustery autumn days

4) A four-hundred year-old parish church with a leaky roof (donations, please!)

5) Sarcasm

8 ( +16 / -8 )

part 2

Here is my top-5 list:

Big issue to write simply, but this 1/3 co-pay of hospital/clinic service needs to be strongly looked at. AND? Send a bill... cripes, I get out of some heavy med procedures.. have no idea what the cost is going to be... then am forced to stand in cue for "counter 6" where I am met by some smiling mosquito flashing a calculator in my face. I need time to go over the bill; see exactly what is what - this has led to (both ways) mistakes to occur - which, ultimately, I have to wait to either be reimbursed, fix due to being rushed, ... etc.

Give trash collectors a huge huge pay increase. These folk are awesome! (and maybe not just in Japan)

SOUND ORDINANCE: patrol and ticket (big yen) black bus noise makers (I'll "hmm" about the laundry pole sales cars... but maybe), out-of-control barking dog owners, political election-time trucks, everything and anything that beeps, chirps, un-necessarily electronically talks... and

$% it? Ticket all store employees who mindlessly walk about screaming

greetings and the store BOOM on-tape message players. Ticket them all, I say!

Get some #$% trash cans out and around in strategic locations! 'tired of my hands being occupied when moving around.

Resign Abe by a real mandate, have Prince N_. unplug himself from being prince, and have him run for and win office. Princess M.? Same. Bright people.
-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Yeah, when I first came here I used to miss some of the delicacies of British cuisine such as beans on toast, monster munch sandwiches and the chip butty. I think it was good to wean myself off that stuff though.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Frankly, why would you want to eat a pizza in Japan of all places? When you have innumerable B-gourmet restaurants with great food at reasonable prices serving different styles of ramen, udon and soba, curry rice, okonomiyaki, curry rice, onigiri, and so on. And that's not including konbini selling surprisingly good food, too.

-7 ( +7 / -14 )

@daves

Nowt wrong with low-salt beans on whole meal toast. Healthy as you can get.

Monster Munch is different, though....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Traffic calming. Speed bumps and stop signs at least - especially around schools.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Except, centralized heating is really only a plus when everyone in the home wants it the same temperature. Got a house with one side that gets a lot of sun, and the other that’s shady during the winter? Sorry, with centralized heating that pumps the same temperature air into both areas, one of them is always going to be too hot or too cold.

Evidently the writer of the article is unfamiliar with how central heat works. It's not necessary to heat up the entire house with today's heaters, and another thing those vents where the air comes out can be closed as well.

It never has to be too hot nor too cold.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

Compared to the usual semi-literate dross coming out of Madame Riri, this is very well-written.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Good doctors.

-9 ( +6 / -13 )

part 1a.

Central heating - exactly, Elizabeth Heath. 'can dial down the radiator; can adjust the vents on forced air units.

Pizza - Just do not eat it or even recognize it as 'pizza'. or... let's simply start by allowing some pai-sans to own and operate Pizza digs. Otherwise, drop the silly stock-red/white checkered table cloths, tacky plastic Italian flag, stock recording of the Italian national anthem, bs names like, "new york style" (yeah, right - as soon as you see the word "style" in relation to anything japanese imitated, run screaming.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

More people prepared to say 'excuse me, I'd like to sit down' or 'excuse me, this person standing in front of you may like to sit down' to someone who is taking up space on the train by sitting with their legs apart, putting bags on the seat etc.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

part 1c.

ATM - Yes to comments above. This story is out of date and wrong. Plenty of ATM access - and too, just pay direct at stores and establishments by card.

AND here is one thing some US folk my find helpful... If you have a US PyPl account and have a debit card, it is accepted just about anywhere. AND... you can get cash with it at 7-11 (7 holding), anytime, 24/7. The fee is next to non-existant. And, in my case, as I am paid in US dollars (here is the beauty), the exchange rate is beautiful currently.

Too, you can ask PyPl for a second card, which can be put in your spouse's name. (Do bear in mind two things: PyPl (in) Japan will charge BIG for transfer of monies between P P-J and P P (US). Be careful. Also, you do have to satisfy P P with having primary and secondary card issued in the US (they will not send to JP or other...), so if you have a home address, have the card mailed there, then sent to JP. - Sorry. It sounds like a lot of work if you are already here, but the arrangement once secured is a very nice thing.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I think it would be less interesting living in Japan if we could get all the things we miss from back home. Certainly, the reverse applies too. There are plenty of things about living in Japan that I wish were available in my country.

13 ( +13 / -1 )

@Raymond Chuang

Frankly, why would you want to eat a pizza in Japan of all places? When you have innumerable B-gourmet restaurants with great food at reasonable prices

It's a fair point, but I'm sure many others share my often insatiable craving for pizza. Pizza is amazing.

Now, about that list... how about DEODORANT THAT ACTUALLY WORKS! I cannot believe that this wasn't #1, let alone in the top 5. On that topic, even the utterly useless Axe product here is outrageously expensive. Why is that? I've tried every single brand here and none work. I have to ask friends & family back home to send me periodical shipments of the stuff like it were some kind of contraband! Ridiculous, really.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Except, centralized heating is really only a plus when everyone in the home wants it the same temperature. Got a house with one side that gets a lot of sun, and the other that’s shady during the winter? Sorry, with centralized heating that pumps the same temperature air into both areas, one of them is always going to be too hot or too cold. what.

weve had centralized heating in our house back home, if you want less heat or cold in a room we just close/open the vents in those rooms. easy really!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

If you go to Okinawa, Japan these 5 items won't be a problem.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Lucabrasi, you bein' sarky 'bout Lancashire cheese???

(I made a Lancashire last year, opened it just this week. Tangy, crumbly...heaven.)

Sarcasm, yes, in woefully short supply. The British sense of humour in general, though I don't suppose its lack is restricted to Japan.

Kiddy-oriented cartoons that you can sit the tinies in front of for half an hour confident that it will be properly educational and they aren't going to learn that it's OK to 'do in' things and folk that you don't like.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

I wish for a better TV Program than Japanese variety shows!

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I find ATMs here super convenient. They're all over the place where I live. Convenience stores, anyone? Number 2 on the list I completely agree with. Just insulating homes and apartment buildings would go a long way towards keeping us cool in the broiling summers and warm in the drafty winters and we wouldn't have to deal with electric or kerosene heaters and fire risks. Number 3, well, people touch me all the time (hugs and shoulder taps and handshaking as well), but I don't miss that thing back home where some dudes think it's completely fine to just give you a shove if you're in the way without so much as a "Excuse me." Although I have gotten a sharp elbow from a little old lady on a train platform or two. Number 4, I fit Japanese sizes just fine, never had a problem finding something that fits. Number 5, yeah, pizza's a little pricey. I do want to go with some of the others here and add tacos to the list. We get taco kits at the supermarket and make some at home that do the trick but it would be nice to have some decent Mexican restaurants to go along with all the fantastic Indian and Nepalese and Indonesian places in our town here.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

If you go to Okinawa, Japan these 5 items won't be a problem.

BS....

More convenient ATMs....ATM's are not 24 hours, and there are no 7/11's in Okinawa.

Central Heat/Air...unless you live in military housing or off base housing that caters to the military practically non-existent.

Skinship? You like getting "kanchoed"? If that's your thing then I'll leave that to you.

A bigger selection of clothing.....Dude, there is ONE big and large size store in Okinawa and it's expensive to shop there, I CAN NOT buy shoes or get suits off the rack, and generally can not find slacks or jeans. NO, no, no....

Inexpensive Pizza? You must be talking about the 298 yen frozen wannabe pizza at AEON.
-1 ( +4 / -6 )

Real bacon not that greasy American sliced so thin that it shrivels to nothing crap. A real rasher. Pork pies and real sausage rolls. Cheese and onion crisps and salt and vinegar too.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

I've lived in the USA, Canada, and Japan but never with central heating, although I'd like to try it someday.

Anyway, I find these bits from the article contradictory and confusing:

"If you’re used to the convenience and uniform temperatures of such systems....

"Except, centralized heating is really only a plus when everyone in the home wants it the same temperature. Got a house with one side that gets a lot of sun, and the other that’s shady during the winter? Sorry, with centralized heating that pumps the same temperature air into both areas, one of them is always going to be too hot or too cold."

So does central heating result in uniform, same temperatures? Or in rooms that are variously hot and cold depending on sunlight?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The only clothing article I buy from home are work boots. I just like a certain brand not available here, as far as I know. Otherwise, Japan is way ahead when it comes to clothes. Sympathies to those who can't but larger sizes, but the locals are getting taller. Fatter, not so much. Fingers crossed.

Food from back home? I miss the cookies. My wife knows how to cook cream rice (rice pudding) and says she's willing to try and back Anzac cookies and cornflake cookies so I'll munch on them someday. But does anybody know where I can get Gingercut biscuits? I'm down to less than half a pack and will miss them.

Sausages seemed better back home, but they okay over here. Liked the chocolate more back home too, but not a biggie.

I'm not really a "food" person. But I must say that Tengu brand beef jerky (plain) is the only food truly worthy of Kirin Hyoketsu Lemon chu-Hi. Delicious.

Never have experienced central heating. Have no interest in it.

Skinship? Plenty to find in the right places ;-)

As for convenience, I have within 5 -10 minutes walk

2 train stations 1 department store 1 post office The bank I use and several that I don't Hiking (my favourite) Any kind of clinic you can think of. etc

The only thing I actually have to drive to is a video store about 5 minutes away.

Back home does not compare. Even the food is mostly crap. Coming from me, it really is bad.

The only thing I do miss is a cheap gym. (There was one in Nagoya - about Y250 a time?). But I go hiking to keep fit anyway. And I'm very much in favour of the "Yama gyaru" boom!

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I'm surprised the most obvious isn't anywhere on the list or in anyone's suggestion...

A SECOND / GUEST BATHROOM

...The number of times with house parties and guests when I wished there was a park nearby...

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

A SECOND / GUEST BATHROOM

Depends where you live, my house has one!

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Spot on, Yubaru! Good comments. I live in Okinawa and am vacationing in Germany right now and am staying in my German friend's house right now. I'm freezing in her house because she says it's very expensive to heat the whole house even though they have built-in radiator units under the windows. So, central heat, though nice, doesn't always solve problems. My number 6 request would be to outlaw the phrase "eeeeeh?" (ええええ-)

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Was this conducted with 20-odd-year old 'expats' who'd been here less than 6 mths or something?

ATMS: Every convenience store. They're everywhere, or the Post Office, especially for Shinsei Bank users. No issues for ATMs.

Central heating, depends where you live in Japan. Otherwise, one room warm or cold.

Skinship? It's Japan, but some Japanese have plenty of kinship privately, between friends and family, just like anywhere else.

Cheap pizza? Hey look at number 4 and do the math.

@Kelly, buy a clothes dryer.

@Nichikolohe, what? That's a niche and some. One, Japanese don't really do 'home parties' and two, well... LOL.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Cleo, My husband and I grow organic rhubarb which we sell to local restaurants and private customers......it thrives well even in southern Kanagawa.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

For what it's worth here's my 5;

Poilce that actually do something (please sort out those annoying bikers!!) Decent quality houses that don't need to be demolished 30 years after building. Better driving manners. A button to silence those god dam annoying speaker announcements!! Cheese and lower priced beer
1 ( +7 / -6 )

There seems to be a myth that central heating means heating the whole house. It doesn't!

Most units in my UK house are kept off when rooms are not in use. Two radiators downstairs do most of the hard work.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Cups that hold more than 100 ml, American size ovens and clothes dryers.

-10 ( +2 / -12 )

1- There is a problem with ATMs, but it's because so few of them accept foreign credit cards. If they don't fix this problem before the Olympics, it's going to make Japan look like a backwards and closed country - which, so far as the banking system is concerned, it is.

2- Agreed. The author doesn't have a clue how central heating works.

3- More skinship? ah...no, thanks.

4- Large sized shoes, please! Especially since there's a 5000 yen import tax on each pair of shoes from overseas. Even if the size ordered is unavailable in Japan.

5- Cheap pizza? Not exactly high in my list of priorities. But if it's that important to you, either buy one at Costco or (better yet) make it yourself. With a bread machine, it's not all that difficult.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Except, centralized heating is really only a plus when everyone in the home wants it the same temperature. Got a house with one side that gets a lot of sun, and the other that’s shady during the winter? Sorry, with centralized heating that pumps the same temperature air into both areas, one of them is always going to be too hot or too cold.

Utter nonsense. With my central heating back home in the UK, each room has a thermostat on the radiator so you can control the heat to your liking or turn it off completely. This has been standard for a while now. Please don't publish articles which are just plain wrong!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

As has been mentioned, the central heating issue can be easily solved with some thermostat valves on the radiators. Just had some installed in my house so each room only heats up to the temperature that I wish, if at all.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The ATM thing wouldn't be a big deal if there was more credit card acceptance. I'm not saying that a mom and pop noodle place needs to take a CC, but it would be nice of the Post Office (itself a ginormous bank) would take one.

Modern tree-trimming practices would be one I'd add. The hack job my city does on the roadside trees is truly horrible to witness. I've been told "the leaves are messy", but I'd rather have messy leaves for a few weeks out of the year than have horrible franken-trees all year round.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

More choices for bread at the supermarket. White...........or white is a bit boring

6 ( +7 / -1 )

@ReformedBasher Ginger biscuits can be found at Seiyu. http://www.the-seiyu.com/front/commodity/00000000/5010035061377/ Buy two packs in store at a big discount. There Swiss Selection chocolate is very good too!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Learn just a little Japanese and you will soon find yourself fully immersed and possibly gasping for air in Skinship city.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Central air conditioning and heating are a total waste of energy. This would never be accepted here. We we say: もったいない! Larger clothes? How about slimming down. Also, every convenience store has ATMs, and these have English menus. What more could you want? Lack of skinship? Seriously. Are you comatose? We invented that.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

"central heating and air conditioning"

If you want to waste money and energy, use central heating and air conditioning, lol.

And I'd like to be able to buy real rye bread in Japan.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

and clothes dryers.

I have a Japanese washer and dryer combo, NEVER use the dryer, takes too long. All the coin laundries in my area have American Whirlpool dryers, average cost 10 minutes 100 yen! I am sure you can guess where I dry my clothes.

American dryers are available but they cost a ton and need a special transformer to adapt to the electricity here. Coin laundry is way cheaper and the scenery at the laundromat is stunning many days!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@mountainpear

Thanks! You are a life saver ;-)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

1) a more liberal education system without the exam hell, giving students more free time for hobbies and self-development.

2) a less rigid labor market that gives workers better working conditions and more free time to live fulfilled private lives.

3) cheap international charter flights so we can get home more affordably and Japanese can experience the world.

4) lower taxes and a lower cost of living ( = less exploitation )

5) more light in the summer evenings and less in the early hours of the morning.

My modest proposals to make life in Japan better for everyone ( except perhaps for the top 1% )

4 ( +7 / -3 )

My choices would be:

Better quality of spoken English in banks, post offices and other public services (Actually, any English would be a plus) Better TV programmes on cable Proper maps that show exactly where the place is you're trying to get to
-1 ( +4 / -5 )

greencardfan, I've been tryin' and failin' on and off for 20 years now, all I get is a handful of spindly little stems that melt when the weather turns hot and wet...how do you get it through the summer?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There is no cheese, and proper milk is expensive.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I would agree with 2, 3, 4, and 5...

I just keep more cash handy at home, so that I don't need to go to the ATM more than once or twice/ month.

Central heating...also miss a good old fireplace!

Four words: need size 28 shoes!

At least Domino's Pizza has some better specials. I miss First Kitchen's mini pizzas for 140 yen.
-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Four words: need size 28 shoes

FYI, 28 we have down here in Okinawa but I need 32 to 33, and there is a great place online to get them from a place in Tokyo.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

1) Education system that handles bi-lingual kids and is not based on crazy J-school mind-washing curriculum. International schools can be ok for some, but not a price point most can handle.

2) Proper health care system - anything serious you have to leave the country or expect to take your chances with pain/death/suffering. Completely built for the doctors - not the patients.

3) More than 1 bathroom in anything 1LDK or bigger

4) Central Heating/Aircon/No insulation - baking/freezing bathrooms and hallways are out of control. If the houses were properly built in Tokyo, heating/cooling centrally is cheaper to run.

5) TV - mixed bag, but anything good here gets warped by the talent reaction requirements. Quit telling people how to react and think about everything little thing! I keep hoping for streaming to solve this, but legal restrictions seem insolvable.

6) Housing falling apart after 10 years and worth 0 in 30 years - what's the point here?

7) Ticket all store employees who mindlessly walk about screaming -> and the tour guides as well.

8) and finally..... KATAKANA! one of the big reasons Japanese cannot learn English, just get rid of it. It is pointless and harmful.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Thank You hayneda! You said it! Its all there too. You're brilliant! Conformity preaching schools, flimsy box-houses, lame TV shows, no central heat/air (every winter people burn for that) & Katakana has screwed up generation after generation of "hetakuso" engrish speakasu-

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Most countries do not use clothes driers the way most people do here in the States. Although we own a clothes drier, we seldom use it, preferring to let the sun do the work for us. Saves on electricity and gas, and good for the planet.

Here in California we have central air, but most of the year we never use it, because we don't need it. At our house we average less than 300 Kwhs of electricity per month, except for July through October. Even in the summer we can usually just open doors and windows at night to get cool. Out in the rest of the country, where it is hotter and more humid,I think they rely pretty heavily on central air conditioning in the summer. Coastal Cali is great.

We like to travel, but see the differences in cultures as something to enjoy, rather than something to get annoyed about. Haven't been to Japan ourselves, but talked to others who have, and they loved it.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

1glenn. Don't get us wrong. You will enjoy Japan, if you visit. All 1st timers do. Lots of great places to see, things to do & Sushi to eat that is the "bomb" compared to CA. But if you were to stay for a couple years, you'd be wiggn' out too. Especially cause you're used to the sunny, free, laid-bck California lifestyle.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

if you were to stay for a couple years, you'd be wiggn' out too. Especially cause you're used to the sunny, free, laid-bck California lifestyle.

That's by no means a given.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The ability to resolve issues/conflicts through mature communication.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@cleo

Sarcastic about Lancashire cheese? God forbid....

Cartoons for the tinies? Give them a Viz comic....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

People seem to think 'expat' means 'American'..

You seem to think 'expat' excludes us.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

'The ability to resolve issues/conflicts through mature communication.'

Not sure about that one. In reference to your moniker, punch-ups to settle issues/conflicts are a tradition in many boozers where I come from.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Lol, great posts. Mine well much more practical. How about a nice simple western toilet.

As opposed to the deceptive look alike, with 47 buttons on the side and you have to wonder if while attempting to flush the toilet, you don't end up with some sort of electrical shock occurring or a device rammed up an area of the body usually reserved as an exit. Or worse, end up activating a close up cam being posted on who knows what website.

And who knows what the other tortures the other 44 buttons will do, except of course, flush the thing.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

A pint of English bitter - and cider in the summer. Mince pies at Christmas. Cheddar cheese. Marmite....

4 ( +5 / -1 )

More flexibility

And NOT more junk- and fastfood.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I still don't understand about the ATMs. All the convenience stores have 24 hour ATMs, and there is a little button that says "English" (in English). I've never pressed the English button, but I presume if you do, it provides English menus. Also, what a lot of griping.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Proper sausages, you know, meat in a skin and linked with a twist. Not processed sausage shaped pork bits.

Alpen ! Need alpen museli. Can't complain on the beer front, as I have a Hobgoblin pub in town, and a Seiyu supermarket.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

'I've never pressed the English button, but I presume if you do, it provides English menus. Also, what a lot of griping.'

Try pressing it. Many give English for a limited number of services - usually withdrawal, deposit and balance enquiry only. I've accompanied some non-Japanese friends new to Japan to the bank to help them do something important like a bank transfer - the staff tend to be useless in this area in most banks.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

ATMs - 7-11 works with virtually any card - as do most others now a days. 10 years ago it was a different stroy.

Central Heating - you can get it in expensive apartments. The monthly minimum fee in the place I once lived in, without usage, is 16,000JPY. Still want it? My experience with floor heating is much more favorable. Gas costs a lot, but it's a lot more pleasant than a central heater.

Houses being demolished every 30 years - that's due to earthquakes. Houses that are now 30 years old do not meet the earthquake building codes, hence they are rebuilt.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Pizza is great here if you like real Italian style. Mexican, yeah being from AZ, I really miss good Mexican food. Central heating, yeah agree, it's rediculously hard to keep your pad warm. Reasonable Speed Limits, preposterously low, rarely enforced, but when they do...ouch! Just paid a 15,000 yen ticket for doing 63 (39mph) in a 40 (25mph) zone. Four lane paved road with separated sidewalks (Uchibori, between Takebashi and Kunanshita, so if you use that stretch, beware, it's being monitored) Yeah, 15,000 yen for doing 39 mph! How about they worry about drivers doing 160 plus on the Higashi Kanto? On that same line, reasonable right turn laws. Have been ticketed twice for making rights with no other cars within 200 meters. It's your willingness to violate the rule you get nailed for. So frigging anal! Ok, rant is over, sorry all!

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Middle names. Seriously, why don't they have them here?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Tessa

Middle names are a Christian thing. Traditionally your middle name was the first name of your godmother/father. Mine is.

I'd imagine that Japanese Christians do have middle names.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Roll Mops, Schweden bomben, nordsee restaurants.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cleo, About rhubarb:

Did you let your baby plants "rest" for two years before harvesting? We didn't harvest anything until the third year and while a few died away, the main bulk of the crop was OK. Maybe you could try leaving them to "rest" for a year and see what happens. Cover with compost in December. We have a main crop in the late spring, and try to harvest the bulk before the real heat sets in and a minor one in autumn, depends on how hot and dry the summer has been. We don't strip the plants entirely when we harvest. Hope this helps a little! All the best.
1 ( +1 / -0 )

greencardfan - I've never got as far as harvesting! They all die off in the summer, never get into the second year. I'll try the compost thing.... Do you think planting in the shade of something tall (tomato plants? green beans?) in the summer might help?

Thanks for your advice!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Personally, during my twelve years in Japan, I wanted for very, very little. Japan is an awesome place. So what if the Japanese people aren't as touchy-feely as the Latin Americans or USA people or some SE Asian societies? Its something one can deal with and assimilate into quite well. I've, personally, found the Japanese to be quite physical in their greetings once one is in the privacy of a home or apartment. ATMs were no problem when I lived there. So, too, was the diversity of large-sized clothing. I found clothes that were 4L and 5L and they were fine; a bit more expensive, but, then, the larger sizes in the USA are more expensive too. My response to this problem? I went on an exercise regimen, changed my lifestyle, and lost fifty-five pounds since I came home. As far as central heating and cooling, my wife and I learned to live in just two or three rooms of our house and, later, apartment when we lived near Tokyo. Again, its a simple adjustment thing (like learning to communicate in Japanese and trying to be culturally sensitive).

At any rate, some of these simply seem either culturally ignorant and uncompromising things that expats wish Japan had, or just nit-picky.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

About the English buttons on ATMS-- The ones for JP Post banking give you full functions in English. There is a Portuguese option where I live, but I'm not sure if that's nationwide. The convenience store ATMs have the English button, but if you press it and then choose "withdrawal," usually you get a message that says, "Sorry. That function is not available in English." Since I rarely go to the post office (it's too far) and do all my withdrawing from the convenience stores (they're right next door or close enough anyway), I've learned the kanji for withdrawals. It looks like it has a drawing of a zipper in it. This has come in handy many times, all across Japan. Easy!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

1 Anti-discrimination laws as are the norm in every other OECD country

2 Jobs which are not the usual use and discard short term contract rubbish,

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The chacterization of central air is not wholly accurate. I have dual zone air which allows me to keep different temps in different area of my home. And to the commenter about global warming and central air, given the efficient triple pane windows, thick inslulation, 100yr old canopy oak trees, roof top solar panels and computerized a/c controls to efficiently monitor my home temps, I use about half or less energy to keep my 2500 sq foot home, as opposed to what I used to climate control my 900 sq ft Tokyo apartment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan needs cheaper cinema prices. Right now, going to the movies here is the most expensive in the world. I just returned from a trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia where I saw a movie at the AEON mall in 4DX for only $12 US. The same experience in Japan would be ¥2,500 a ¥3,000. Regular movies cost $4 in Cambodia and Thailand, but here in Japan, they are 4 times more expensive, starting at ¥1,800 and even more if you see an IMAX or 3D flick. What is wrong with Japan, and why are movies so darn costly?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I just returned from a trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia where I saw a movie at the AEON mall in 4DX for only $12 US. The same experience in Japan would be ¥2,500 a ¥3,000

¥2400.

What is wrong with Japan, and why are movies so darn costly?

Land prices, rent, demand.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I just returned from a trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia where I saw a movie at the AEON mall in 4DX for only $12 US.

Agreed that cinema prices are high in Japan, but comparing with Cambodia....sheesh. Do you believe that an average family in Phnomh Penh can afford to visit the movies more easily than an average family in Japan?

What's a normal income for a Cambodian? People from abroad love Southeast Asian prices (Singapore aside) because they're not paid Southeast Asian salaries.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Less government, please. Kumamoto City Hall is a behemoth that, in addition, must apparently be supported by a web of suboffices (one for each district) - and all of this in the shadow of the immense Prefectural Hall complex, which must duplicate a whole lotta work because there are not many people in Kumamoto Prefecture outside of Kumamoto City.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Cleo, Yup, try the shade and see how you do. OR just leave them to "die down" for this year, try the composting and see if they come up and grow for you next year. Best of luck!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Decent bacon.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Squeegees.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Larger clothes? How about slimming down. not all gaijn are fat! i take extra large clothing and lucky have a few shops that sell them, as fo my size 13 foot, have to buy those shoes online

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A decent sized tin of tuna so I don't have to open 3 to make a sandwich

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Taco Bell. 'nuff said.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

sillyWabbit: Taco Bell. 'nuff said.

Franchise opportunity!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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