Things that foreigners miss about Japan when they return home


Foreigners who live in Japan for a long time and then return to their home countries often miss many things about Japan. Here are a few examples from foreigners interviewed by Madame RiRi.

Nikuman (Steamed buns with meat filling) and Mont Blanc Cake (Frenchman, 39)

Okonomiyaki (Savory pancake with various ingredients), Takoyaki (Octopus dumplings), Pocky (Biscuit stick coated with chocolate, strawberry, etc), and Pocari Sweat (Japanese sports drink). There are so many yummy things in Japan! I miss them… (Irishman, 33)

Takoyaki, okonomiyaki, amusement arcades, gyudon (bowl of rice topped with beef), and “real” sushi. (Korean)

Japanese advertisements, Japanese TV programs and convenience stores. But I don’t miss crowded trains in the morning in Tokyo. (American man)

Funny TV commercials, all foods in Japan and karaoke. Quality of Japanese foods in America is much different from Japanese foods in Japan. (American man)

Cleanliness in Japan. I often found people cleaning up in Japan. There is no dust on products on the shelves in Toys”R”Us in Japan. On the other hand, there is a lot of dust and garbage left in public places in America. (Man from Seattle)

Kotatsu. I love kotatsu, especially when there is a group of us trying to keep our feet and hands warm. (American man, 61)

Karaoke and seafood. Japanese karaoke is the best in the world. (American man)

Ramen, Jiaozi, fried rice and cold Asahi beer. I love all things in a ramen restaurant. They are awesome! (Danish man, 30)

Sapporo ramen (Canadian, 39)

Calpis water and hot canned drinks (Frenchman)

Ramen, Momiji Manju (Maple leaf-shaped steamed bean-jam bun), bookstores, shrines, and cold drinks from vending machines. I couldn’t do without ramen. By the way, I think that Evian (bottled water) in Japan tastes different. (Man from Belgrade, 30)

Creap (Cream powder for mainly coffee), Vermont Curry (Japanese curry sauce) in udon (wheat flour noodle), aroma of coffee when I enter a café, middle school and high school uniforms, and Japanese people’s surprised reaction when I speak Japanese. (American)

Anpan (Japanese sweet bun filled with red bean paste), 100 yen conveyor belt sushi, convenience curry, and yakiniku (grilled meat) restaurant (Canadian man, 30)

Ear picks, relay broadcasting of sumo, Tokyu Hands in Shibuya, Sensoji (Ancient Buddhist temple in Asakusa), automatic doors in coffee shops, sento (communal bath house), Buddha statue in Kamakura, many buildings in Ginza in Tokyo, Sony Building in Ginza, easy train transfers. There are so many great memories in Japan! (Chinese)

Vending machines, people wearing uniforms, convenience stores, stylish cafes and beautiful Japanese women. (American)

Shochu (clear liquor distilled from sweet potatoes, rice, buckwheat, etc.) I live in Kagoshima Prefecture which is famous for shochu. I didn’t like it before; however, I love it now. (New Zealand woman)

An environment in which I don’t speak English, my grandmother, Japanese fashions, unique culture, technology, supermarkets and great customer service. (Canadian man)

Politeness. (American man)

Breakfast of miso soup, rice and umeboshi, lemon water, ramen, onsen (hot spring) and sento, yukata (casual summer kimono), convenience stores, Japanese department stores such as Tokyu Hands, products in Muji, transport facilities, politeness, warm toilet seats, smell of tatami and incense, TV programs, coworkers and friends. (German, 37)

Senbei (rice crackers) and furikake (Dried food sprinkled over rice). I can buy ramen in Asian markets in my home country. (Danish woman)

Bright lights in stores, taiko (Japanese drums), ramen, trains and the custom of drinking tea instead of water. (English)

Source: MADAME RiRi

© Source: MADAME RiRi

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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The washlet.

It's the only civilized way to ...

Well, you know what I mean.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I second what johninnaha says!!! I can't live without my washlet.

The other thing I miss is free water in restaurants.

Clean trains that come on time.

3hr "nomihodai" with 10 course meal for 4000 yen or so. (the cost of an average meal with no alcohol back home)

Bentos in conbinis and supermarkets. Makes going on a picnic so easy.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

How can anyone miss TV shows and commercials ?

Washlets on the other hand....

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Service,Convenient stores,and vending machines all in that order...

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Washlet, trains that run on time (minus the crowds), service (it actually exists here, unlike some other countries!), electrical goods stores like Yodobashi and Bic-Camera

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Small things like the matcha tea, the variety of hand made food you can buy and just eat immediately after you pay at the supermarket and the raw fish are the first thing to come to mind.

Next in line would probably be being able to have a walk around the street using my mobile phone without fear of being robbed, or not having to worry about robbers that much after you went to the ATM or bought some stuff at an electronics shop.

And lastly would probably be being able to complain and make fun of all the pointless and non-sensical things that we have here in Japan. Let's face it, we might complain a lot about things here, but we also have a lot of fun discussion those same things with other people and just laughing inside ourselves when we see them (Engrish, over-sexualized entertainment products, having so many sings on the street that you stop caring about all of them, excessively loud and obnoxious people at stores, etc)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

i surely will miss the onsen when i go back to my country

6 ( +6 / -0 )

The washlet. The women (you can take one with you but the lack of variety soon tells). High speed internet everywhere Safety Nightlife

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Riri is asking newbies to Japan, people like her that she meets at shibuya, ask some people that have lived in Japan for 10 years and they certainly DO NOT miss Japanese TV commercials.

But I very much miss Japanese rice and ramen

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A nice katsu-kare teishoku with fukujinzuke on the side.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Okonomiyaki tops my list. And, of course, the eye candy. Other than that, can't think of a thing.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I'm still here and i am already dreading the lack of quality ramen choices i will have when i leave. That and cheap sushi (well, cheap everything really).

The washlet toilet would be top of my list, but I am bringing one with me when i leave; thats for sure

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Is it only me that find it a bit ironic that a French Man will be missing mont blanc cake? And an English woman says she will miss drinking tea?

Are you sure Madame Riri is not just pulling this stuff out of her ... hat?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

We had an outlet installed next to the toilet in our American house expressly to power a washlet. The bewildered builder thought we might have wanted to put a reading lamp in there.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Another vote for the washlet from me.

I've tried to explain it to family and friends back home but it's just one of those things you have to experience first hand to truly appreciate.

First stop after arriving back in Narita is always a washroom. :D

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Sure this won't meet with approval from the censor nazis but I don't miss anything when I return home . Uh, wait. I miss he hotties in short skirts, especially in summer!

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Safety, cleanliness, orderliness (relatively-speaking).

Customer service tends to be better, people are generally at least a little bit nicer, more polite and helpful, trains run more punctually, things that break down tend to get fixed more quickly and efficiently. You don't get garbage strewn over places and not picked up for weeks and months on end, chewing gum on seats, dog turds and the like. Or being stuck on the bus next to some sweating, unshaven gyppo that smells like a toilet and an ashtray mixed together.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

washlet hordes of OLs dressed to kill every morning clean streets, trains, etc. politeness safety onsen izakaya ski resorts (all the experience: slopes, onsen, nabe, beer) conbini sushi, sashimi, all fish-based dishes actually

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Beer vending machines! That's definitely number one. I used to have one right outside my house. Can't beat that! After that, I miss the great public transport system over here. If only it weren't so crowded it would be perfect!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Only thing I'll say is that for the most part the consumer has a lot more choice in Japan than what I have available to me where I am from (with some exceptions).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Politeness. (American man)


Phlegming oyaji's? No!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Oshibori and taxi doors that open for you

6 ( +6 / -0 )

snowboarding/skiing in winter, beach in summer, all within a couple of hours commute. manners non-obese women.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Georgia Original canned coffee. I hate it, but my friends back in the US keep telling me to send them cases of the stuff.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

When I go home, I notice that it's not as easy to buy strong alcoholic drinks 24 hours a day.

On the other hand, when I'm not in Japan I don't feel the need to.

4 ( +15 / -11 )

Typical; the first things in the list refer to food/drink, then a couple of things to "shake it up" a bit, then back to food/drink, a couple of more "others" to break up the article, and finally some more about food/drink.

If I ever leave Japan, one thing I won't miss is the over-fetishisation of food.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

People who give a damn about their job and still have pride in their culture.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

I miss the consideration for others, and that if somebody did happen to accidentally step on my foot in a packed train, or bump me a little too hard, they would, for the mostpart, give a small bow of apology. I miss the Cherry blossoms of spring and the gorgeous cool clear days and nights of Autumn and early winter. I miss mountains and Onsens. I miss Coco Ichiban. I miss the 5 o'clock public announcement that all good kiddies now need to go home and that play time is finished. I miss Royal Milk tea and Yatsuhashi. I miss train platform music. I miss the gorgeous girls. I miss Hanabi, I miss......

1 ( +4 / -3 )

This doesn't happen anywhere else on Earth.

Yes, but just think how excited and amazed your countrymen would be when you told them of them.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

All right, but apart from the sushi, trains, girls, sake, martials arts, temples, onigiri, the beer vending machines and yakitori, what have the Romans ever done for us?

I mean, the Japanese…

2 ( +4 / -2 )

While there are of course a number of things I would NOT miss, there is a lot I would. In fact, as with leaving your home country to live somewhere else, it often TAKES leaving for you to realize and appreciate certain things you take for granted (and I'm not saying everyone takes everything for granted or is not aware of how lucky they are to have them).

Depending on where I ended up when leaving, I would miss the bevy of sushi-shops (GOOD sushi) as well as other foods you can get easily. I would most certainly miss all the beautiful women (sorry, but it's true) walking around, especially in summer when the clothing style is, well... I would miss the efficient train/subway system. I would miss the restaurant service for the most part (I especially loathe how in North America they constantly approach you and ask you how you're doing to assure they get good tips -- I prefer to be left alone to eat/drink until I need something and then signal or call for the waiter). While Korea and other nations have cherry blossoms in large number, Japan has much more so, and I would miss them in full bloom (I'm sorry to say I would NOT miss the hanami crowds and drunkards). I would miss some of the festivals (again, not the crowds) and seeing people in yukata, the stalls, etc. Of course I would miss the people in general, and their kindness. I would miss the proximity between large cities (like Kyoto and Osaka), and lament the fact that I could no longer say, "Hey, let's take the train into the city and catch a movie, do a little shopping, and eat at ___ restaurant!"

I have absolutely no doubt that upon leaving Japan I would develop a much larger fondness for the nation as a whole then I have living hear and dealing with a lot of problems (personal or otherwise), hearing the politics, seeing the underbelly, etc.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

I'd miss the amount of restaurants, public transportation and the amount of cell phone services (Navitime, etc). I will never ever in any circumstances would miss anything that has anything to do with Japan Inc and the "society" it creates around it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I would miss the cheap, good quality seafood (esp. sashimi), I'd miss the ridiculously cheap all-you-can-drink deals, I'd miss the 100 yen shops. I'd miss the Japanese embracement of drinking alcohol outside - without (usually) it making people want to fight. And of course - as a man - I'd miss the Japanese custom of girls wearing ultra-short skirts to please us guys in all seasons!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Oh - and I'd miss SMAP. ....... NOT!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Would mostly miss 24 hour combinis and buying onigiri in the middle of the night.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I weirdly prefer American sushi from Japanese sushi. I think I like the fact that it usually uses more ingredients and flavors. Will the mods delete my comment for saying so? Haha..

If I return to my home country, I will miss onsen, Japanese fashion (especially boys who aren't afraid to make themselves pretty, just like the girls), speaking Japanese, reliable public transportation (when no one is committing suicide, that is), how I walk more and lead such a healthier lifestyle here, Shinto and Buddhist shrines/temples, Ni-chome, and easy access to yaoi comics.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

BurakuminDes: " I'd miss the Japanese embracement of drinking alcohol outside"

Forgot that one! Thanks. I'd miss that, too.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

People who give a damn about their job and still have pride in their culture

Absolutely this. Also...


Not sticking to movie and public transit seats

Mountain hikes so close to a big city
4 ( +5 / -1 )

I miss the conbini stores mostly and all the varieties of drinks and food you can get there. I miss the free massage chairs in department stores. I miss the colors. I miss the very affordable restaurants. I miss the gadgets I would never buy but that are fun to look at. I miss the drugstores with amazing choices of shampoo and other strange items to make myself beautiful. I miss the colorful festivals. I miss the reliable transportation system. I miss the good service and after-service. I miss the washlets a lot. I miss the cookdo sauces for great and easy cooking. I miss handmade soba, ramen and udon. I miss smoked eggs. I miss mochis with green tea. I miss reading strange English everywhere putting me in a good mood. Heck, I would find it hard to live in another country again, they are all boring compared to Japan.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Being able to walk around alone even at night without fear. And teenagers who DONT look like they can't decide whether to steal your bag and then knife you, or just knife you for the fun of it.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Funny cop stories.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

oh and those game centers, seeing those japanese kids play, music, dance, fight games. And UFO catchers!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Natto, mochi, warabi mochi, wasabi.... nobody missing ? :)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Everything !

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Can't say, still missing more 9.000€ so i can go there and see it for my self.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

My Toto washlet , oh,,,and the earth moving below my feet,

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I currently miss (been in america for a year) good quality bakery goods, conbini (american convenience stores just do not compare), ready made croquettes/nikuman/onigiri for a quick snack, the abundance of non-soda beverages, family restaurants with drink bar, ramen everywhere, and the amount of attention paid to seasonal foods/colors/themes. In america you dont see eating seasonally. Oh and my washlet, thank god Mitsuwa nearby sells them.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Ramen, Stores song (like Don, don, don Quijooootee...), vending machines, public transport, and funny things like the pimps taking people in the streets.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Missed good sushi

CC Lemon

Biking every where like everyone else - basket on the bike

Tissues being handed out - sadly this is happening less and less


Kirin on Tap


-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Conbinis definitely. Where else can you pay your bills, photocopy documents, flick through a wank mag, have a wee, and get a beer, cup noodles and snouts for the walk home, at 2 in the morning? Awesome.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I'll miss being called Gaijin San.......

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

i miss japanese restaurants with japanese staff.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

girls, arcades especially UFO catchers, soba, convenience of trains, vending machines, cute smiles, service culture, safety at night, pachinko

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Unsweetened drinks in convenience stores!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I keep reading others' comments and realizing I'd miss those things too! I'd DEFINITELY miss the convenience stores here. They truly hold to their namesake (well, the English word 'convenience', anyway).

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I miss walking through the back alleyways of Osaka at night (I got lost) during the first time in Japan. I felt safer then that I would do walking down a main road at midday in Belfast.

Also the drink dispenser machines in the street. First time I use one I went by sight and what I thought was ginger beer was cold tea. I soon worked out what was Cold and Hot (the red and blue bar below the item name) and if it looked like ginger beer, it was most likely tea.

Trains running on time and stopping at platforms on the marks. People waiting for ones to get off before getting on.

The cyclists were dangerous.

I was cycling along when an old woman step out in front of me. Because I was going at a slow speed (about 6 MPH) and was waiting for something like this to happen, I was able to stop easily. The female cyclist behind me did not and I was hit by her left side handlebar in my ribs. She was going too fast and not looking and thinking about what was ahead of her.

Another one was flying down a one way back street in Kyoto and forced a car to do an emergency stop or be hit by her head on.

I miss the Deer of Nara, or more correctly. The expressions and reactions of visitors who feed them. I had read up on them and waited to see what would happen when the others in the tour party who went and feed them. Good laughs. :)

Went to Japan twice in 2004. First time with a tour party so I could get to know how the trains, busses and other things worked.

Would have liked to return for a 3rd and more times, but finances prevent my return. :(

If i win several million pounds in the lottery, i probly would spend several months a year in Japan.

Probly spend the summers somewhere cooler.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sushi ,Pachinko, clean trains, shinkansen, politeness, clean streets, tachi soba ,tv shows, suzu mushi., ..and sooo many other things.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Elevators,stick to the left so those on the run may pass on the right, stairs to the right to descend, left to climb. Crowd control at events and railway stations.Public transport, is brilliant, except at rush hours, wheh sardines in a tin are less congested. Quakes, I relish no longer being jolted into waking too early in the morning. I now have to rely on an alarm clock. The fabulous Japanese people I have met, that I will never forget.The coy that make the fish in my pond seem like tiddlers. Hot sunny summers, the fabulous parks, people who take care of feral cats, to the extent of building little shelters in the hedgerows.Yep, loads more, but these few come to mind

1 ( +1 / -0 )

AKB48 commercials that promote lesbianism.

And washlets. Imagine the development process that went into that.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Enjo kosai, isn't it?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The peaceful and sweet nature of Japanese girls who hardly impose their opinions to their partner, and provide generous care and acceptance. Barely existing in the US and north-west Europe.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

"Okonomiyaki ( Savory pancake )

I beg to differ, I don't think that's savory at all. A savory pancake is like the ones I make.

"real" sushi"

As opposed to those California rolls they serve in the U.S. ha ha

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One thing I don't see mentioned yet, and that I would definitely miss if I left Japan, is what they called "unit bath".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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