travel

A Japanese perspective on traveling in the U.S.

94 Comments
By Preston Phro

Today, we bring you a Japanese perspective on visiting the United States of America. While many Japanese people enjoy visiting the United States, there are some things that can end up being a bit… disappointing.

For most Japanese people, “America” means steak, pizza, cheeseburgers and other delicious foods. And considering how big of a deal food is in Japanese culture, this isn’t a bad thing at all. On the other hand, there are a few things that the average Japanese traveler abroad might wish were different. One of our Japanese friends recently took a trip to the U.S., and, though he generally had a great time, there were a few things that could have been better.

1. Unclean airplane seats

Our friend took Delta to the United States, and it doesn’t seem like it was a very good experience. But, while there were delays and the company didn’t have the best reviews, at least ticket prices were lower than most other airlines.

He decided to give business class a try but was shocked to see how bad it was. There was dirt and trash on the seats — they clearly had not been cleaned. In terms of customer service, it was downright atrocious. This was his first time flying with Delta, and he said he probably wouldn’t choose them ever again.

On the other hand, it seems like the food in business class was pretty good. So, that’s something, right?

2. Poor plumbing

According to our traveler friend, plumbing in the United States left a lot to be desired.

In his hotel, water pressure was inconsistent — sometimes blasting out of the spout too hard and other times weakly sputtering out. And, just to be clear, this wasn’t at a dumpy dive motel — this was at a five-star hotel.

Even worse was the water temperature. On the morning he was checking out, when our friend went to take a shower, there was no hot water. Calling down to the front desk, he was told, “Well, we tried some stuff, but we’re really not sure what’s wrong.” For someone used to prompt customer service, that’s a pretty unsatisfying reply. In the end, the hot water came back on — 15 minutes before he had to leave!

Now, this obviously is not an issue that only affects the United States. Water heaters seem to be temperamental beasts the world over, but this kind of occurrence would be extremely rare in Japan, and guests at hotels would be considered well within their rights to kick up an enormous fuss.

3. Leaving tips...even for ramen

Obviously, when traveling, you want to try the local cuisine, but sometimes you also just have a hankering for familiar food. For our friend, that was ramen. Obviously, tipping is mandatory in American restaurants — after all that’s how the wait staff make a living. In Japan, though, the opposite is true. No one leaves tips because waiting staff are paid directly by their employer, with a wage that’s enough to get by without the need for tips.

So, as a Japanese person eating Japanese food at a Japanese restaurant, he found it extremely weird to be leaving a tip…but there was nothing else he could really do. The strangeness of it was compounded by how Japanese people think about ramen: it’s basically fast food. If his attitude seems strange, just imagine tipping at McDonald’s and you’ll probably understand how he felt.

4. Customers chatting with check-out clerks, despite long lines

This is probably something that most people in the U.S. will be immediately familiar with: long lines at the register. While Japanese cashiers aren’t always the speediest, they also don’t spend a lot of time chatting with customers either — the most you’ll usually get is a hello, a request for your membership card, and then the cost of each item as they’re rung up.

In the United States, on the other hand, cashiers can be downright verbose, laughing and conversing with customers. Some people probably enjoy this, but when the lines start getting longer and longer, it’s not very much fun for the other customers.

Another thing that our friend found strange was how many registers were perpetually closed. He said that no matter how long the lines grew or how many staff members were on the floor, people were forced to wait on the one or two registers open.

5. The crappy cotton swabs

This one might be a little strange, but bear in mind that cleaning out earwax is a bigger deal in Japan than in the U.S. As such, the low quality of cotton swabs is pretty frustrating for Japanese people. Especially when the cotton peels off and gets stuck in your ears. Perhaps most people in the United States don’t notice (or don’t care about) the quality of their cotton swabs, but it’s definitely something our Japanese friend found disappointing.

Another difference is the color: black cotton swabs can be easily found in Japan. Why would you want them in black though? Apparently it helps you more easily see the earwax. As to why you would want to see it, well, that’s something we haven’t quite figured out yet.

6. New York taxi drivers

With so many customers, there’s really nothing you can do about it, but our Japanese friend still found New York taxi drivers to be quite selfish. Upon telling them his destination, he’d often hear the drivers respond with something like, “Aw, I don’t wanna go out there at this time of day!” or “Oh, that’s too close!” While we can certainly appreciate how hard it is to make a living in New York, it’s still pretty awkward — especially for someone from Japan where taxi drivers now are incredibly polite and helpful. Though our friend did mention that Japanese taxi drivers during the economic bubble of the '80s were equally selfish.

7. Cigarettes are expensive

Obviously, it depends on the state, but smokes are more expensive in the U.S. — especially in New York – than in Japan. While a pack of cigarettes usually goes for around 400 to 500 yen ($4 to $5) in Japan, they’re nearly double that in New York. Our friends said that for Japanese people the best thing to do is just bring some in their luggage. Quitting might not be a bad idea either.

8. Lost luggage

Now, lost luggage isn’t something that only happens in the United States. This is an issue that airlines around the world still struggle to solve. But our friend had a pretty crappy experience and it was in the U.S., so it counts.

After a 45-minute flight from San Diego to Los Angeles, he discovered that his bags were missing. When he talked to the support staff to find out what had happened, he was told that his belongings were on another flight — to Ecuador.

We understand that mistakes happen, but wow! What a monumental mess up that is.

In the end, he got is bags back — four days later.

9. No toothbrushes in the hotel

Honestly, one of the most surprising things about staying in a Japanese hotel for us was discovering the toothbrushes waiting by the sink. So, you can imagine our friend’s disappointment at never finding a single toothbrush in an American hotel.

While toothbrushes, face cream, and make-up supplies are increasingly common in Japanese hotels, the most you can usually expect in an American hotel is a chocolate on your pillow and some crumbly soap in the shower. While people in the U.S. would never think twice about this, it is certainly disappointing for Japanese people who expect (and might be counting on) these basic supplies.

10. Dark rooms

Our friend found rooms — from hotels to bars to apartments — to simply be too dark. While some izakaya in Japan may be dark, there are also many which are brightly lit. Part of this seems to stem from Japan’s abundance of ceiling lights, whereas many places in the United States use indirect lighting like wall-mounted lights or lamps. This also led him to wonder if maybe Western people are more sensitive to the light than Japanese people, especially since so few Japanese people wear sunglasses.

11. So few toilets in New York

This is much more of an issue in New York than in other places, but our friend had a hard time finding toilets in New York.

In Japan, pretty much every convenience store, cafe, and train station has a toilet freely available for people to use. Train stations are almost always equipped with at least one toilet for either sex, usually more. However, in New York, our friend could never find a toilet — especially in the stations.

He ended up carrying around wet wipes to keep his hands clean since he was never sure he’d find a free restroom while he was in the Big Apple. Even in places that had toilets available, there was often only one that was shared between men and women. Or you would have to ask the staff to use the key, which is a bit of a bother — especially for a Japanese person who might be too embarrassed to speak up.

12. Few vending machines in hotels

Obviously, many hotels in the U.S. do have vending machines, but our friend found that many did not. And even when the hotel did have vending machines available, they often were at a premium price, with drinks or snacks more expensive than usual.

Japanese hotels, on the other hand, almost always have vending machines — including machines that dispense cigarettes and alcohol, reducing the need to run across the street to a convenience store at night.

While everyone’s experience is certainly different, it never hurts to see yourself from another perspective. It’s especially interesting when you realize how much it’s the little things that stand out the most.

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- 11 Things About America That Startled Me -- New York As Seen By The Japanese In 8 Random Points -- 26 Amazing Things About Japanese Budget Hotels

© RocketNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


94 Comments
Login to comment

I believe this all just boils down to country pride. Everyone is proud of their own country and no other country can compare to your own. New York City is not the best of places to visit though. On your next trip, might I suggest Nashville, Tennessee, Destin Beach, Florida, or perhaps New Orleans, Louisiana. Nashville is known for traditional American southern food, country music, and scenery. Destin is known for the beach, sun, dolphins, and fresh seafood. New Orleans is known for the birth of Jazz, food, people, and parties. People need not get offended so easily when the review makes several valid points. I can't say much about Japan, because I've never been there before. Although, I do hope I get to visit some day soon! I've never been outside the United States before. I'm curious to see the ways of a foreign country. I hope that Preston Phro takes another trip to America soon!

Casie L. Clark Nashville, TN United States

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's not about the writer thinking Japan is 'superior' to the U.S., it's about Japan being far more convenient and customer friendly. And that is absolutely true. I am always surprised how much I miss Japan when away for more than a week or so whether it be the US, UK or Australia.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The most disappointing part of this article is the title: maybe it should be changed to "Annoying Things that Happen when Traveling Anywhere"- because goodness knows that these experiences aren't limited to the U.S., or any one country in particular. As a frequent traveler to both the U.S. and Japan, I was really hoping to read about common Japanese perspectives on traveling in the U.S., but I ended up just laughing at the absurdity of this article. It will be fun to show this article to my Japanese and American friends, and get their reactions...

I mean I've had some pretty bad experiences traveling to NYC, Dublin, Seoul, and to various cities in Japan. But I have enough sense to realize that those are isolated incidents: not something that represents the country as a whole. I understand being frustrated when a travel destination doesn't meet your expectations, but to paint an entire nation with one broad stroke is regrettable. Not only did this article portray the U.S. as a poor travel destination, but it also strengthened the stereotype of Japanese tourists as being narrow-minded; both of which are far from accurate.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Why does this article smell like one guy whose coffee shop student just returned from a trip to NYC and told him all about it so he decided to write it up extrapolating it from one entire nations experience to another?

Yabits: thanks for the compliment but I dont think I am JT calibre ;) !

1 ( +2 / -1 )

too many generalizations in this piece... should have been titled "ONE MAN'S experience in NYC"

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Deja vu again: There are 50 states in USA. Which states are you talking? have you traveled to any of them? There still is Hilton in New York. Which corporation are you talking? Have you ever used any USA airlines? From where to where? You sounds like you never came to USA. Never met to any USA citizens in USA.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

America has been down in the dumps for a long time, mainly because of the social damage caused by individual selfishness and corporate greed. Seems nobody there cares about their country. US airlines are among the worst in the developed world.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Delta? Not ANA and other planes people use? From his statements, I can see he went cheap ghetttp mote; that is used by criminals. Taxi drivers can say no to avoid shot by robbers in ghetto and crime area/ A Tooth brush? Health Dept will shut business if it finds tooth brush is in any business. In Japan, people play tips, too. This guy is very cheapskate. Clerks are required not to be mean to customers. dark room? He has to learn how to press light buttons. More and more I read, I am very sure he was in a ghetto motel.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

So it sounds like he stayed in new York if you can make it there you can make it anywhere i guess that applies to vacations too. But new York is a big city overcrowded and busy. I've been to alot of states in the u.s and most places were enjoyable. And p.s tipping isn't mandatory its welcomed but not forced

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Customers chatting with check-out clerks, despite long lines

So...like a typical Japanese hospital.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

overall standards are pretty comical in the US, but that's the culture of that country. US airlines are complete jokes, cleanliness doesn't even seem to be a concept anywhere

comical standards? we set the world standard and thats why we run it. US culture is the culture of the world thrown together when people left their countries in search of a better life. but say what you will, it says more about you than those you deride.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

@bass4funk : Yeah like I said, it depends where you go. But yeah I agree with you, the Northeast and Southwest seems to be decades ahead of the rest of the country.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Yeah I agree with most of these, overall standards are pretty comical in the US, but that's the culture of that country.

Painting a broad brush there. Americans don't consider themselves "a collective" socially or culturally, it depends on where you go.

US airlines are complete jokes

Again, depends. My dad has a Learjet and its cleaner than most people's homes.

cleanliness doesn't even seem to be a concept anywhere,

Apparently you haven't been to Malibu, CA. Orange County, NY Upper East side, Miami Beach and middle America.

tipping usually ends up ruining any dinner.

That's the system. I used to be a bartender, helped pay my way through college. But hands down you get the best service. Not automated, also, you don't need to constantly call out for the waitress to come to pour you some water like in Japan, regardless, they will get paid, once their job is done, it's done. In the states, if they want to make good money, they know they need to provide excellent service. Maybe, you should eat a a fast food place then you don't need to worry about tipping.

It definitely depends on the place of course, but yeah I think the US would be pretty damn disappointing for most Japanese people.

If that's true, we wouldn't have so many Japanese living here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._cities_with_large_Japanese-American_populations

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The toothbrushes at Japanese hotels suck anyway and the toothpaste is foul! I usually take my own.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Yeah I agree with most of these, overall standards are pretty comical in the US, but that's the culture of that country. US airlines are complete jokes, cleanliness doesn't even seem to be a concept anywhere, tipping usually ends up ruining any dinner. It definitely depends on the place of course, but yeah I think the US would be pretty damn disappointing for most Japanese people.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

This is hilarious. Let's go through them one by one.

1) Delta. I use Delta everyone I go to Portland, it's the only direct carrier. The service, food, and cleanliness are superb every time. JAL is OK and I've used them three times. ANA is horrible. Bad food, bad service. Had a child kicking my seat the whole flight and asked the attendant to help and they refused. I asked the child and parent to stop and they didn't. They were Japanese. My wife asked them to stop too (She is Japanese) and they wouldn't.

2) People talk in line. How about Japanese who take 20 minutes to use the ATM to pay bills when they could just withdraw the money and got to a conbini? Far more rude. Or how about people never letting you go ahead in line when you have less than them

3) Um everyone knows taxis in NY suck. But do people tell you of the stink of BO on Japanese trains? Nope.

4) You don't have to leave a tip. Also Why are you eating Japanese ramen in America? Try eating something outside your comfort zone.

5) Lack of bathrooms? Haven't noticed it but I have noticed lack of trash cans in Japan.

6) Poor plumbing? Sorry that is everywhere, even in Japan.

7) Cigarettes are cheaper outside of NY. Try not generalizing one city of the US as being representative of the entire US.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

America has some of the most luxurious hotels. We also have some decent ones and some crappy ones. You get what you pay for. If stay at a cheap 20 dollar motel, expect dirty blankets, insects, and poor plumbing. I recommend holiday or days inn. Comfortable stay for an affordable price.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Toilets .... I can remember a time in the not-too-distant past when most public conveniences in Japan didn't routinely provide toilet paper at all, and we had to carry our own about. What do you think those handout tissues were really used for? And still no soap and hot water!

As for washlet, why can't people do the right thing and shower all over at least once a day, preferably before leaving home for work? I'm looking at you, Japanese men on the morning rush hour train! (And brush your teeth while you're at it.)

Speaking of showers, showerheads in Japan tend to be of very poor quality except in five-star joints. Some of them have such a weak flow that it's like being peed on by a very, very old man. Others are so strong that it feels like being flayed alive. I find adjusting the water temp to be confusing at times.

Toothbrushes in hotels tend to be of very poor quality. I avoid using these like the plague, as I once got bristles trapped in my gumline. Also, the toothpaste provided contains allergens. I cannot recommend using that stuff except in a desperate emergency. I always take my own now.

Taxi drivers: I've had a mixed bag of experiences here in Japan: extremely rude and impatient ones, including a few who spent the whole ride complaining about foreigners and/or took me the "scenic route" along the way, and some really excellent ones who took me where I wanted to go swiftly and efficiently (I tipped those guys!). Osaka cabbies are notorious for refusing to take short rides, but I don't really blame them. Anyway, I'm no longer the party girl I used to be, so it's easy to avoid cabs.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Finally, isn't it a bit ludicrous to base an entire side-by-side comparison of these two societies on such random points contrived from a single person's experience? Poor concept. Poor execution. Very poor writing.

Not to mention that the article, which states a "Japanese perspective" was written by a foreigner who has obviously inserted their own opinions and thoughts into the topic as well.

Very poor writing? Par for the course on JT.

Moderator: As always, your snide remarks add nothing to the discussion.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Restrooms: in high-rise business areas of Osaka, too, it can be hard to find a restroom. You have to have a pretty good idea of where to look, which would be a problem for a tourist.

Tipping: I've made similar comments about paying US service staff an honest wage so tipping becomes unnecessary. Yet, students of mine in Japan who worked as waiters in good restaurants worked their asses off for the equivalent of about $7.00 an hour and got no tips. I wonder how this compares to the average take-home of their US counterparts with tips. I've long had several levels of mixed feeling about tipping.

Chatty cashiers: Mostly cultural. In the US cashiers are expected to be friendly; in Japan they are expected to be efficient. That said, chatty cashiers are not all that uncommon in Japan.

Cotton swabs: Returning to live in the USA after 25 years in Japan, the issue of unsatisfactory cotton swabs eventually crept up, way down the list after my #1 loss of the Japanese bath. However, the main issue is with the packaging. In my area, it seems you can only buy them in large packs that must be ripped apart and can't be resealed or even closed. They simply flop around loose in the remaining plastic tray gathering dust and whatever. I'm not sure what the concept is, but it's the absolutely worst, most inappropriate packaging I've ever seen. Contrast this to the packaging in Japan which is solid, with a simple and hygienic, twisting dispensing lid. I agree that the quality of Japanese swabs is infinitely better as well. Regarding the black color, although it's not really so very common in Japan, it does have a particular purpose based in physiology. Most ethnicities in the USA have "wet" (oily, sticky yellow stinking) ear wax (mea culpa). Japanese have dry, powdery ear wax, that can be more easily seen against a black surface for the purpose of determining if the cleaning job is being done properly. Finally, there is a cultural component to ear cleaning as well. From childhood, Americans are taught to "put nothing smaller than your elbow in your ear" (that is, nothing), so grow up cautious or outright fearful of ear cleaning. Shortly after returning to the US my 68-year-old, former Marine brother-in-law saw me cleaning my ears and gave me that old caution, tisk-tisking me and saying he'd never put anything in his ears. In Japan, cleaning ears is basic hygiene. It's the belly-button they're terrified of.

Crabby Cabbies: My Japanese wife thinks Kyoto cab drivers are the rudest she's ever seen and she has lived in NYC.

Room lighting: Cultural. Japanese tend to feel brightly lit rooms are cheery and dark rooms are, well, dark. In the USA it's generally felt that low lighting creates an atmosphere of warmth and intimacy.

Vending machines: It's often been noted, including an entire article on this topic in this very publication, that Japan is the world mecca of vending machines.

Finally, isn't it a bit ludicrous to base an entire side-by-side comparison of these two societies on such random points contrived from a single person's experience? Poor concept. Poor execution. Very poor writing.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Poor plumbing in the US?

Why Japanese toilet even they are very clean, smell so bad? That is Poor plumbing right?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

1 out of 3 people on this planet don't have enough to eat, and some people compalin about "crappy" cotton swabs...

0 ( +3 / -3 )

All stories like this are about is to reinforce the idea that many Japanese think they are superior to America. There are some over generalizations here and the writer should look inward more to see that they aren't much better in many areas too.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Eh, I have to say that America in itself is a bit laid back, to the point of having less consideration for the population overall. Some places you go here and its all fine and dandy, but then you go somewhere else just to be treated poorly. I do believe that Japan does care more for outward appearances and the quality of things that the people have to interact with, just based on the culture. That I must say.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@frungy

However the overwhelming majority of people from the U.S. that I've met talk about the U.K. as if all people eat is fish and chips, which is equally unfair. Or saying that all German people eat is sauerkraut and sausage. And I've heard these generalizations from people who claim to actually have VISITED these countries for several weeks. At least the Japanese can claim ignorance.

I agree, having lived equally on both sides of the continents, I know this NOT to be true. British is getting a lot better than what is was 30 years ago, thanks to people like Jaime Oliver that introduced locally grown veggies. Being a cook myself, love watching the new things he comes up with. But yes, some people are just culturally ignorant. NOT to get too side tracked. When I have these discussions with Japanese, I often hear how inferior foreign foods are, in particular, foods from ANY English speaking country. The only people that can cook in the Japanese eyes are Italians and the French, even though, a big portion of these restaurants in Japan are mostly watered down versions of the original authentic European culinary.

@Michael

For the most part, US food even in better restaurants IS disappointing as compared to Japan. In Japan, pasta in a departo that your grandparents favored long ago is still al dente with fresh sauce for US $12- you can pay US$25 for limp, pre-made stuff in the US.

Where on Earth do you go to? Personally, I never had that happen to me. Maybe, you just have some serious bad luck. To be fair, I have had plenty of crappy pasta in Japan and that includes Ramen. It just depends on where you go.

Japanese airlines are amazing with luggage in a good way. If they lose it, they tell you BEFORE you get off the plane, walk you to the reporting area, fill out the forms for you, and call you consistently until it shows up. For luggage there is no better. I actually put in my contracts with my clients that I will ONLY take a Japanese airline. Unless you are a student on a group package, suck it up and pay the extra to fly JAL or ANA or accept that some obasan employed by Delta or Northwest is going to yell at you if they are not ignoring you while sitting in the back and playing sudoku.

I think JAL is one of the worst in Japan. I prefer ANA at least they never give me the runaround, planes are usually cleaner, staff nicer and less hassle.

It is hard to find public toilets in the US where you don't have to borrow a key etc. I have a rule that I will walk out of ANY store or restaurant that doesn't allow me to use a bathroom after a polite request. If the store can't accommodate a natural function, they do not deserve my money. Japanese stores and restaurants are MUCH better about this.

Again, where are you going? Somewhere in Yuma? I'm from L.A. and I have NEVER, EVER had a problem finding a toilet. When I need to go if there isn't a public toilet, I will just go into ANY restaurant, ask and I'm in. Yes, some don't have toilets, but the ones that do, Never a problem. Maybe it's how you ask them. Hearing that is quite shocking to me.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Jeeze, I'm American and I would complain about a lot of these things. This isn't our American 'culture', it's poor service!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Most of the OP's concerns are fair.

While vending machines everywhere in Japan are convenient, it kinda sucks to have them ALL OVER japan like on rural mountain tops.

For the most part, US food even in better restaurants IS disappointing as compared to Japan. In Japan, pasta in a departo that your grandparents favored long ago is still al dente with fresh sauce for US $12- you can pay US$25 for limp, pre-made stuff in the US.

Who give a shit about expensive cigarettes? - people shouldn't be smoking unless they sign a waiver they will pay for all smoking related healthcare costs for themselves until death.

OP is spot on about dirty airline seats although I took a picture of mine on JAL in March leaving SFO for HND as I was so shocked that is the seat pocket was dirty.

Japanese airlines are amazing with luggage in a good way. If they lose it, they tell you BEFORE you get off the plane, walk you to the reporting area, fill out the forms for you, and call you consistently until it shows up. For luggage there is no better. I actually put in my contracts with my clients that I will ONLY take a Japanese airline. Unless you are a student on a group package, suck it up and pay the extra to fly JAL or ANA or accept that some obasan employed by Delta or Northwest is going to yell at you if they are not ignoring you while sitting in the back and playing sudoku.

It's nice to not have to tip but we have to accept that someone has to pay the staff and either you get stuck with Japan prices for small meals or US style (especially bad in the SF area as the tax is 10%, there is a 3% add on for waiter healthcare and then people expect 20%. So in the Bay Area you have to add 35%. You end up going out less but the produce is so good as it is grown around there you can happily eat at home more.

Ear thing- I'll take the American view on it..doesn't need to be cleaned every day as it is protective against excessive sound and catches environmental dirt. Also paying ladies to do it is a little hentai. Ne?

Service chatting with customers- OK for me. People are real and not machines. Better than pre-recorded artificial, kawaii voices telling me obvious stuff like the escalator moves up and down etc. If you are visiting somewhere and you get chatty with local service people, you can learn stuff about the area and have better experiences.

Poor plumbing- Never noticed it but when I think of it, I have not experienced poor plumbing in Japanese hotels. I feel the US is not as bad as the UK in this regard. A difference may be you can drink the water from any tap in the US; not necessarily in Japan.

OP is right - It is hard to find public toilets in the US where you don't have to borrow a key etc. I have a rule that I will walk out of ANY store or restaurant that doesn't allow me to use a bathroom after a polite request. If the store can't accommodate a natural function, they do not deserve my money. Japanese stores and restaurants are MUCH better about this.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@ChibaChick

You should be contributing articles here. Your comments were really great.

Delta. OK, Atlanta has been our home since 1984 and we've traveled to Japan just once a year on average. We often joke that Delta stands for "Delay Everybody's Luggage Through Atlanta" or "Doesn't Ever Leave The Airport," but we're still fiercely loyal customers. If business class was dirty leaving Japan, then it's obvious that the local clean-up crew that Delta hired either didn't do the job, or they weren't given enough time.

I really can't compliment the flight attendants on their often brusque performance of their service duties. I just pretend I'm in a Chinese restaurant.

No question about it, Japanese public toilets are among the best I've ever seen. (I my experience, only Switzerland's are better but you often have to pay to use them.)

Cotton swabs??!! I mean, how difficult are they to pack? Ditto number 9 with the toothbrushes. If it's NYC, there's a Duane-Reed on nearly every other corner so what's the deal? I would never use a hotel toothbrush, anywhere.

Dark rooms... This one had me recalling a stay at a hotel near the airport in Munich. The hallways were so dark, I couldn't see the room numbers on the doors and had to go back to the front desk to be escorted by someone with a flashlight. Sounds like this person had one bad experience, as I did, but I've never experienced lighting to be a problem generally.

Vending machines. Yeah, Japan's got the world beat here too. In the U.S., if you can find one, you'll be lucky if it will accept your dollar bill or give you change in return. It's insane that the U.S. has had dollar and half-dollar coins for decades and not a vending machine will accept them. Just insane.
-4 ( +0 / -4 )

This is pretty pertinent for me right now having just mvoed to the US with my J husband (Im not American either) and watching how we are all fitting in (in a nutshell - he has a new appreciation for how I adjusted to Japan because after 4 months he is STRUGGLING big time! First lesson: American police officers actually ENFORCE stuff here, but thats a whole other story....)

Do all Japanese think the only things on offer in the US are steak, fries and burgers?!

1) Cant comment on Delta but from what Ive heard is par for the course. You get what you pay for 2) Yep. Have to agree with this one. I got suspicious when I spotted all the varieties of toilet plunger lined up at Target. Need to use it at least once a week. American showers are still WAY better than British ones tho... 3) Well - still struggling with the tipping thing myself, but America is well known for it and there are tons of web pages and guide books giving advice on it so its really not rocket science. 4) Yes - its nice to be treated like a human being! Trader Joes are particularly good for this. If you dont like it - go to Albertsons. And its not as if they are doing nothing while they chat - they are actually ringing your stuff up. not even slowly either most of the time. And they pack your grocery bags for you - I see our intrepid traveller didnt bother to mention that! 5) Oh dear God get a life! 6) Friendly J taxi drivers??! OK - some are. But we have also been ripped off, verbally abused and memorably one time hit on at 2am. One time a taxi driver tried to rip off my Japanese husband just because he was with me and we were speaking English so he assumed we werent Japanese and took us on the "scenic route" home. That was quite a fight when hubby realised what was going on! So - NYC taxi drivers v Tokyo ones - not so different really. 7) Welcome to a country that encourages people not to smoke 8) Thats bad luck but you can hardly blame American culture for it! 9) Euw! Dont you bring your own?! Hotel toothbrushes always feel like Im ripping my gums apart anyway 10) Yep. My husband complains about this too. Try a romantic candlelit dinner with your J husband - within seconds he will flick all the switches and you find yourself in interrogation-style lighting. No fooling a J guy you are under 40 :( 11) Ill give him this one 12) Im missing conbinis with walking distance and vending machines too right now, so Ill allow this one too, but at least when you find a vending machine in the US it contains some really good stuff.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I actually found the article spot on, it is true to life in the US. and there is nothing saying that wait staff cannot be paid by the establishment- however many wait staff do not wish this as >70 % of their salary is in tips and is kept off the tax rolls.

you end up getting something small and tipping too large for the occasion many times,

other areas- Airplane seats and toilets - so true- we have become accustomed to not having clean items to sit on, our public transport is cleaned once daily (meaning the trash is picked up from the floor) and if we are lucky the floor gets mopped once a month.

there are other differences- I just received two packages- one with electronics from the US - they came loose in the box bouncing against each other. the other from Japan- each article individually wrapped, cushioned with bubble wrap then ensconced with paper to ensure good traveling.

the Japanese package had no breakables- the US Electronics one did and as you would expect something broke- so of course i agree with the article to US needs relearn some of the ways it had in the past

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

This one bothered me

“Well, we tried some stuff, but we’re really not sure what’s wrong.” For someone used to prompt customer service, that’s a pretty unsatisfying reply. In the end, the hot water came back on — 15 minutes before he had to leave!

Obviously, the staff was looking into the problem. Does he expect the front desk clerk to be a plumber? It would be nice to have included how long the actual wait was from the request to the '15-minutes before he had to leave' Every man I know would wake up no more than 30-minutes before needed to leave, and Japanese men seem to take every moment of sleep they can steal, so I am guessing he didn't wait an incredibly long time.

And also, what kind of answer would have satisfied him? I personally do not find any comfort in having to sit through numerous apologies and long bows from the staff, this might be polite and expected in Japanese culture, but I do not think it attributes to any 'promptness'. I think the staffs time would be better spent talking to other customers and contacting repair staff.

As for the tips, I understand it is hard to adjust to, but ramen is not 'fast food' in the U.S., it is foreign food. Try buying a taco in Japan, sure there is no tips, but at 800yen for one with about a teaspoon of meat and lettuce....

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Our Japanese friend has a problem with and couldn't bring himself to leave a measly dollar for the ramen he ate? What a niggardly little varmint.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

1. Unclean airplane seats

Never had a problem on board a U.S. flights except crossword puzzles already done in the inflight magazines. I also love that passengers leave magazines that they are done reading on the rack so I have something to read on long flights. Also U.S. flights still have newspapers to read which Japanese airline companies mostly do no not.

2. Poor plumbing

The first 2 hotels I ever stayed at in Japan had overflowing toilets. The bad thing about U.S. public toilets is the graffiti on the walls and lack of cleanliness. Japanese toilets are sometimes so clean you can see your reflection like Mr. Clean.

3. Leaving tips

I have been living in Japan so long that I hate tips too whenever I go back but feel obligated.

4. Customers chatting with check-out clerks, despite long lines

I think Walmart is the worst for lines, chatting and slow service. Most other places are a little quicker. I actually miss the friendliness, it is hard to chat up check-out clerks here except older ladies.

5. The crappy cotton swabs

I disagree wholeheartedly with this one. When I came to Japan, I tried their cotton swabs the first day and almost poked out my eardrum it was so thin. I had my parents send me Q-Tips until I noticed Costco carrying them years later. I have no idea where they get the figure that Americans don't use cotton swabs.

6. New York taxi drivers

Never been there but Japanese taxi drivers also skip passengers too I have noticed.

7. Cigarettes are expensive

A given and like this in other Western Countries.

8. Lost luggage

Lost luggage 3 times leaving Japan, never in the U.S. Have had packages stolen many times though by U.S. postal workers.

9. No toothbrushes in the hotel

I am spoiled too by Japanese hotels and their toothbrushes. At least I have room to move in U.S. rooms.

10. Dark rooms

Also slightly annoyed by this.

11. So few toilets in New York

Never been but at least there is something to dry your hands with after washing them.

12. Few vending machines in hotels

Japan is great with vending machines and they are respected. Americans are animals with vandalism.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

If I were going anywhere for a few days, I would bring my own toothbrush and my own cotton buds, and I would make sure I have enough cigs to last me (duty-free; pack your own).

This guy strikes me as a rube - a first-time traveller. He needs to learn what any seasoned traveller knows.

I do like the black cotton buds, though - you can see how much gunk is in your ear, and that tells you whether or not you need to go back in for another round.

Tipping anywhere stresses me out, but I know it's the done thing, so that's that, no point complaining about it, any more than I would complain about the inflexibility of wait staff in Japan at times...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yes, traveling always brings new experiences and different perspectives......that's the "fun" of traveling. I always encourage my fellow travelers from Japan to try and think of the reasons why people do things "differently...... and appreciate the differences. My friends noticed there were no toothbrushes in 5 star hotels as well in most hotels outside of Asia, but when I mentioned that many people in these countries feel it was a "waste" of resources and not "eco friendly".......it became to see the other viewpoint........just how wasteful our society has been to provide this "good service" in hotels in Japan.............there are a growing number of hotels in Japan that provide these items "on request" to become more "eco friendly. Travel is great because it can open your mind to new ideas, but you need to be curious about the differences to see them. I hope this fellow has a better friend to travel with next time.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

CraigHicksAug. 03, 2013 - 03:25PM JST

"Grandma's wisdom: Don't put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear."

I tried my hardest but I couldn't get my elbow in my ear. I nearly got my knee in there though.

FizzBitAug. 03, 2013 - 01:57PM JST

"The crappy cotton swabs...

The smart people don't use cotton swabs cuz it just pushes the wax back in. I use a hair clip and dig it out."

Yikes!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Totally true from my perspective of being an American that lived in Japan for ten years and went back to America frequently. the NY toilet thing is spot on! How the hell are tourists supposed to use the bathroom??? No public bathroom is really, really stupid! About the cigarettes.... I am glad they are expensive and that people are not allowed to smoke as they are in Japan...

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Cigarettes are expensive, and thats a bad thing!? try buying them in Australia there around 5 times the price in Japan. high taxes in Cigarettes helps to pay for the billions it costs to treat smoking related illness, most of all if makes people quit. lack of vending machines LOL wow this made me laugh, now imagine if Japan did away with half the vending machines and bought there drinks at a store instead. there certainly wouldnt be any power shortages in summer now would there.
1 ( +3 / -2 )

Unclean airplane seats (I have other problems with airlines in America, but I 've never seen any seats dirty from the beginning) Poor plumbing (I was surprised here, I don't think this happens too often...) Leaving tips…even for ramen (how much service do you get here? I don't like "servers" who are overly friendly though, especially when the act like they are a good friend and they have just met you for the first time!) Customers chatting with check-out clerks, despite long lines (this seems to happen equally in both countries) Cigarettes are expensive (Yes, but I think that is a good thing) Few vending machines in hotels (Don't agree)
-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Expecting another country to be like Japan isn't realistic. You'd think for an Internet age that people would do their own research before travelling. It's a different country with different expectations. The above is largely a lesson in not paying attention on what to expect before travelling.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

One point is very true though. American airlines are awful!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I am from the US, but I thought a number of comments (not all) were true.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

It is interesting to see the American crowd so defensive in the comments. I think the attitude of nothing is wrong with my way instead of taking the comments and considering them seriously is what makes some of these things persist in the first place. This being said, a lot of them are just small cultural differences. Your luggage to Ecuador when flying domestic, that has to be one of the funniest things I've heard!

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

On the flip side, I avoid restaurants with smoking (immediately filth and not good with food/drink; long term cancer--so worthwhile and considerate of smokers) and fluorescent overhead lights (so unflattering and hospital laboratory-like). Instead, I enjoy finding restaurants admittedly like what I happily became used to in the USA: nonsmoking, safe and with flattering indirect light. Always happy to patronize such establishments repeatedly.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"And, just to be clear, this wasn’t at a dumpy dive motel — this was at a five-star hotel."

Ah, yes, because the 'five-star hotel' is a regular part of everyday life in the US. If you want to go a place to experience and comment on the the culture as a whole, experience and comment on the culture -- don't go in some group tour to see what sushi takes like somewhere else (and then complain it's not the same as at home). Yeah, tipping sucks, but everything else (and even tipping in other places) can be more or less said for all sorts of places, including Japan.

"Obviously, tipping is mandatory in American restaurants — after all that’s how the wait staff make a living."

Not true -- at least, not so much any more. It USED to be the case that wait staff received a slightly decreased hourly pay and the tips were supposed to make up for that (and be much more if they served well), but now regardless of whether wages are less in restaurants a tip is expected, and regardless of whether service is good or not.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Do like to finish cleaning my ears with a cotton swab. It resets my calm.

However my sister in law is a nurse and says you shouldn't be putting anything smaller than your elbow in your ear.

Oh yes, the travellers comments were boring and predictable.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

No one leaves tips because waiting staff are paid directly by their employer, with a wage that’s enough to get by without the need for tips.

Bs, in Japan the wages paid have nothing to do with being enough to get by. This is a fallacy. Maybe Japan should start a system of tipping because not all places have service that is great, not matter what their pay is!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Grandma's wisdom: Don't put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I think many assumed that the Japanese person who kindly shared their thoughts about a trip to the US with the author of this article was complaining or being negative about the US. Frankly I suspect he was being polite and answering a question that he might have much rather not. We all have our own view and expectations, and he was kind enough to share his with the author. We cannot assume that he was unhappy because he was honest enough to say what he found different, or missing that he enjoyed at home in Japan. No where did we read that he HATED his trip or that he was SORRY he went and that he was not able to understand that things would be diffferent. I am grateful for the honesty and candor. Not much I disagree with either. :)

0 ( +2 / -2 )

My wife is always amazed at the amount of wax I pull out my ears. I guess some humans produce more wax than others. What a funny conversation!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

That's not what most doctors say. In fact, apparently it evens says on the box of q-tips that you should NOT put the q-tip inside your ear.

http://blogs.webmd.com/all-ears/2006/11/q-tips-weapons-of-ear-destruction.html

Q-Tips – Weapons of Ear Destruction?

I found the following statement on their Web site:

“Q-Tips cotton swabs have more cotton at the tip than any other swab, making them the safest, softest and gentlest tool you can use for family care. They also provide the ultimate precision, making them the perfect tool for uses outside* your ear.” (I added the italics to the word, “outside”).

Why You Really, Truly Should Not Put Q-Tips Into Your Ears

http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2012/11/q-tips-ears-danger

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Thomas, I used to work at a children's clinic. The shit we used to flush out was horrifying. U do need to clean your ears once in a while

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You're not supposed to put cotton swabs, or anything of the sorts into your ears... and you should just let the wax naturally fall out. You're always supposed to have some wax in your ears.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The crappy cotton swabs

The smart people don't use cotton swabs cuz it just pushes the wax back in. I use a hair clip and dig it out.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Tipping is the hardest thing to do when I go back to visit the US. Paying EXTRA money, for service I usually find INFERIOR to what I'm used to. As Mr. Pink said, "This tipping automatically... it's for the birds!"

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Some Japanese people might watch a lot of Hollywood movies and expect things to be as PERFECT as in the movies or as better as it is in Japan. I would agree things are so convenient especially in Tokyo.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The Japanese are not only the only nation when travelling abroad expect to find it like at home. The Americans and the Brits are the same.

Staying in NY hotels and London too, bring some bed bug powder?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

or ONE hotel that happened to have a hot water problem are pretty isolated things.

Every single time I go to NY there are some sort of problems with the water, either in my hotel room or the room of one of my co-workers. You wouldn't believe how lightly the hotels take this sort of thing. Even five start hotels charging >$500/night. I have never had that problem at any other American city.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Some Japanese people (like the one in this article) go abroad see lots of Toyotas and Japanese electronics and feel very proud to be Japanese. These kinds of Japanese people see very little of the country they are in. They could be standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon or looking at the Taj Mahal and see a Toyota in their vicinity and pay more attention to the Japanese car. They only see the Japanese car even though there are cars from Germany, France, America and Korea they are not able to see them. By seeing the Japanese car it confirms the opinion that in foreign countries they have Japanese products as well, so Japanese products must be the best, therefore Japan is the best, therefore I am the best. It confirms what they knew all along and they are now glad they went to gaikoku because now they know they are the best.

Rule number one for understanding gaikoku is that you must always compare something you see in gaikoku with something from Japan.

Rule number two is that Japan must always win the comparison.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

One of my friends who visited the USA recently said that (ウォシュレット) toilets with bidet function are extremely rare even in hotels.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

philly1,

The whole point of going somewhere else is to get something other than the basics one gets at home.

What you say is interesting.

For you and I, I'm sure that would be the reason.

But it seems to me that your Japanese tourist isn't thinking the same way. Perhaps the whole point of going somewhere is to tell their friends about it at home and "create a memory."

When they take photographs, they take photos of themselves, their friends or family WITH A BACKGROUND of some famous landmark or place of interest.

Physically, of course, they may be a foreign country, but in their minds, they are still in Japan. The list of items above shows this clearly.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Plenty of Japanese in Honolulu right now. They love it, as they should.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The experience is a New York experience, typical of New York not the United States. Maybe try traveling to other parts of the country where water pressure is regulated. The cotton swabs, they must have had the cheap ones made in china rather than the normal ones. When I came to Japan, I thought what hard cotton swabs. All these things depend on the place and the product. Most hotels have a courtesy toothbrush they give you if you forgot your tooth brush but most people take a toothbrush with them so they are not placed in the rooms. Pretty petty thing, there is no toothbrush. Personally, I stay away from cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco as they always have problems.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I thought Japanese didn't complain.

Japanese don't complain to your face but they will go back to Japan and complain like hell to their travel agent etc.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

"I remember once asking a young, like elementary aged, child about her trip to the US. She responded "It was great! I was surprised they even had a McDonalds there!!!"

Hey, Makudonarudo is, of course, a Japanese restaurant!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

"One of our Japanese friends recently took a trip to the U.S., and, though he generally had a great time"

I'll bet he did.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Toothbrushes: No comment on the resources wasted on providing all hotel customers in Japan with a new toothbrush EVERY NIGHT (and other amenities)? Japan is so full of ECO marks everywhere - save electricity, save water, save gas... there is SOME talk about the waste of disposable chopsticks and free bags at supermarkets (seen less recently), but there is still a lot of ground to cover. Bring your own toothbrush when you travel. Heck, why not also bring your own shampoo and soap instead of opening up a new mini bottle supplied in the Japanese hotel. Speaking of cotton swabs, a Japanese hotel I stayed in recently provided two cotton swabs each individually wrapped. Free toothbrushes is NOT a good thing.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I remember once asking a young, like elementary aged, child about her trip to the US. She responded "It was great! I was surprised they even had a McDonalds there!!!"

At least she was expecting it to be different. (^o^)

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Bosh!

Food is bland if you insist on going to those crap chain restaurants. Do some research and find the good, family run, off the beaten path diners, cafes and restaurants and you will get excellent food.

I've never been to any halfway decent hotel that didn't give you a bar of soap, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion, as well as toothpaste. If you forget your toothbrush, a simple call to the front desk will get you one pretty quickly.

Dim lighting? Oh, you mean because Americans don't use horrible, atmosphere-ruining florescent lights in every restaurant and bar. Mood lighting seems to mean very little in Japan.

Public restrooms can be found in train stations, department and grocery stores, public libraries, parks, restaurants and coffee shops (generally only if you're a customer) and hospitals. This is a guide for finding public restrooms: http://www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/bathrooms This is an app for finding public restrooms: http://www.nyrestroom.com/

Tipping is also something I hate but to say that a visitor finds it disappointing is a bit odd. Surely most visitors would have been aware of this annoying practice before they embarked on their journey.

Expensive cigarettes are not a bad thing.

Poor plumbing, seriously? I can't say as that I've ever found that to be a problem in the States.

Dirty airplane seats? I'm a little confused by this one. If he flew Delta to the U.S. from Japan and his seat was dirty, why is that a disappointment with the States? Don't workers from Japan clean the planes that leave from Japan?

New York city taxi drivers are a mixed bag but can be downright hilarious if you take the time to engage them in any conversation, which leads me to my next point.

Yes, cashiers talk to customers. Given the zombie-like nature of so many Japanese cashiers I can see how this might be a bit disconcerting but it's actually a nice thing for humans to be treating other humans like, well, humans. So you might have to wait an extra 30 seconds or even a full minute. Isn't it better than the no-eye-contact, no-communication-beyond-the-rote-phrases-which-must-always-be-droned-to-every-customer style of cashiering?

Bad cotton swabs. That's too stupid to even comment on. Bring your own darn cotton swabs if they're so superior.

Lost luggage is something that happens everywhere, yes, even here in Japan. I've had my luggage lost at least three times here. I've learned to always pack a well-supplied carry on and to consider the positive side to not having to lug my bag through rush hour train traffic, where no one will help you, people will put their heads down and plow into you and where it's often difficult to find escalators so you're a big, sweaty mess upon arrival to your home.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

"He decided to give business class a try"

He decided he had money to burn.

"On the morning he was checking out, when our friend went to take a shower, there was no hot water. Calling down to the front desk, he was told, “Well, we tried some stuff, but we’re really not sure what’s wrong.”

A nice cold shower in the morning will help wake you up!

"The crappy cotton swabs"

Hee hee! Are you kidding?

"black cotton swabs"

Hee hee! Are you kidding?

"No toothbrushes"

Hee hee! Just do what Mr. Bean does and break the handle off your toothbrush so you can easily fit it in your suitcase, ha ha ha ha ha ha

"few toilets in New York"

I don't think so. I've been to NY and I didn't have any problem finding a toilet.

"tipping"

Hey, even with the tip, your meal is still cheaper than in Japan.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Well most of the points go for other places too, like in Europe where you have to pay for the right to use a dirty toilet. Yes Paris I am looking at you! As a European I am also quite uncomfortable with the tipping thing, always afraid not tipping enough. But that's also part of the fun, finding out about other countries customs. And btw I stayed in places in Japan where I didn't get a toothbrush ;-) Where do I complain?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Some of these points have some validity. But most of it seems to be overreaching. Start with the article title.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

They're certainly free to avoid America if they don't like it. I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I thought Japanese didn't complain.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

filler article is filler article

List of things disappointing about America: Not "glorious" Japan

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I think "Poor plumbing" is more like "poor faucet" and "no hot water". I don't think that "poor plumbing" is the right expression.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

One poster suggests good food can't be found in the U.S. really? did you even think about that before you typed it? The country is huge and has no shortage of quality food establishments. Or how about this "Obviously, tipping is mandatory in American restaurants" It is expected but it is NOT mandatory. One person experiences inadequate water pressure in a hotel and somehow you think the headline "12 disappointing things for Japanese people traveling in the U.S." is appropriate? absolute garbage!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

This is one of those smug 'Japan is better because...' articles, from the perspective of a Japanese person who compares everything to Japan, because Japan is perfect...right? Let's take a look, point by point...

1 Unclean airplane seats.

Fair comment. In business class too, so he should have raised holy hell.

2 Poor plumbing

Seriously? I've been to several minshukus with toilet areas that smelled of, for want of a better word, pi$$! The toilets at several of my schools also smelled slightly of pi$$ and I wondered at the state of the plumbing in Japan. It was only a decade ago I was living in a one-floor, inaka house that had a toilet-shaped thing, and under that a flap that sort of closed off whatever I sent down that pit from a great height. It stank! Japan is no paragon of plumbing, sir!

3 Leaving tips

I hate this whole tipping lark. It makes me feel uncomfortable so I do love the 'see price, pay price' think in Japan. I agree with this one.

4 Customers chatting with check out staff

This annoys me too, however, I have been kept waiting on a couple of occasions by obasans chatting and talking rubbish while there has been a queue. It happens in Japan too - surprise surprise!

5 'Crappy' cotton swabs.

Really? Was there any need to use 'crappy' here? It's supposed to be relatively serious journalism, isn't it? The black buds are odd, though. So are those mini ladels they use to scoop out the wax and then put back in with their pens on their desks.

6 New York taxi drivers

I have never been to New York, but I remember coming out of Shin Osaka once, and asked a taxi to take me to a nearby hotel. I was laden with luggage. He told me to walk it either to save me the fare or because he couldn't be bothered. Go figure! It happens it Japan too!

7 Cigarettes

Disgusting things!

8 Lost luggage

Yes, mine have been lost on flights to and from Japan twice. I got them back, but it happens in Japan too,

9 Yes and no on this one. If you go to a different country, you should check whether this is a standard service. Some of the tooth-brushes I have had in cheap hotels leave bristles in the gaps between your teeth. On the other hand, I do wonder why Japanese even bother with toothbrushes...certainly there is a lot of evidence many have never seen one, let alone used one!

10 Dark rooms?

Eh? This is like saying that all the flowers in one country are red. Some are, some aren't.

11 Toilets

True! Japan is great for toilets in convenience stores and other places. I don't know about the US but in the UK toilets seem to be a magnet for vandals. Maybe that's why there are so few.

12 Vending machines

Well, yes. But the US is not Japan. You can buy anything from vending machines in Japan and there is less crime to worry about.

Whoever this traveller is with his twelve-point foreign-travel rant, I have just one thing to say: Get over yourself!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

...it is certainly disappointing for Japanese people who expect (and might be counting on) these basic [s]...

The whole point of going somewhere else is to get something other than the basics one gets at home. Though this article is based on one person's experience and cannot represent all Japanese travelers, I am often surprised that many J travelers who have been my house-guests expect things to be the same world-over as in Japan. Don't they do Internet research?

However, it doesn't always follow that all aspects of life elsewhere are not as good as in Japan. One of my guests came with a bag full of rags and cleaning products in her suitcase. She understood that Canadian houses were very dirty because we (or some of us) wear our shoes inside the house and because the toilet is in the same room as the bathtub. She was shocked to find that my house was cleaner than hers. When I stayed with her in Japan at a later date, she confessed that she and her husband cleaned for 3 days before my arrival (whereas I did my regular bit of cleaning, nothing more).

Part of the reason for travel is to shake up one's expectations and have new experiences. I'm glad Preston Phro's Japanese friend got a window onto American life that showed it to be something other than his own--even if he didn't like it all that much.

Perhaps those who don't find it pleasant abroad should think about travel within Japan where everything is familiar. So few have discovered lovely parts of their homeland beyond a single school trip. Bonus: It would help boost the local economy. And they'd know there'd always be a toothbrush waiting.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

If you know where to go, you can find good food anywhere. However, if you a) don't have your own transportation and b) only go to the places shown in guide books, you're going to find a lot of junk food.

One of the best meals I ate in the States was at a small Pizza place run by a couple of Mexicans that happened to be near where I had gone on business. It was truly amazing.

It's there, but you have to hunt for it. And unfortunately, Japanese tourists are not so likely to find good restaurants because they are perhaps the least adventurous of all tourists. Most of them would rather go to a "famous restaurant" than hunt around and find a truly great one.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I gotta agree with #4. It still annoys me when people chat about the Lakers or anything really when there is a long line.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Plumbing? Who writes this stuff? I suppose if his friend had a problem with the TV then the article would say that Japanese people are surprised at the TVs in the US.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Not one single fundamental item. When you go to a different country you go to a different country!!! There will be differences and that is why we travel in the first place. You will like some and dislike others aspects of the place, if everything was equal or better than here everyone would just move there! IF you go to the US or any other place for that matter and the lasting memory was how dark the rooms were, I have one advice for you: don't waste your money, stay home and find something to complain about here!

10 ( +11 / -1 )

bass4funkAug. 03, 2013 - 08:36AM JST That was a very stupid and consolidated statement. To say that, means you don't anything about American food culture or Even California cuisine. You cannot pigeonhole and define America food cuisine as Strictly Mc Donald's no more than me suggesting that the Japanese ONLY eat Sushi.

Fair enough comment. Personally I want to visit New Orleans sometime just to try the world famous Gumbo. However the overwhelming majority of people from the U.S. that I've met talk about the U.K. as if all people eat is fish and chips, which is equally unfair. Or saying that all German people eat is sauerkraut and sausage. And I've heard these generalizations from people who claim to actually have VISITED these countries for several weeks. At least the Japanese can claim ignorance.

In his hotel, water pressure was inconsistent — sometimes blasting out of the spout too hard and other times weakly sputtering out. And, just to be clear, this wasn’t at a dumpy dive motel — this was at a five-star hotel.

This is ridiculous. I've heard this from a number of friends who visited the U.S. 5 star in the U.S. is sometimes a real 5-star and sometimes more like a 3 star in Europe. The problem is that in the U.S. the star system has no central regulating authority, like many things in the U.S.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I want to go abroad as well, so that I can compare everything to my own country and have a miserable time because nothing abroad is as good as anything in my country which is the greatest country in the world.

18 ( +20 / -2 )

Sorry, after 7, I wrote the numbers wrong, don't know how I bungled that. Maybe I'm still too sleepy.

@lost

NY is a bit different for a big city. I'm from L.A. Which is also a big city, but finding a toilet is not as much of a hassle as it is in NY.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I disagree with all points, except #11. If you find yourself in need of peeing in NY, it's a nightmare. No public toilets, only in hotels or Starbucks.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Bland american food. And the fact that even the common foods.. steak, cheese burgers and pizza you'll be hard pressed to find done decently in the US.

That was a very stupid and consolidated statement. To say that, means you don't anything about American food culture or Even California cuisine. You cannot pigeonhole and define America food cuisine as Strictly Mc Donald's no more than me suggesting that the Japanese ONLY eat Sushi. From the East to the West and North and South American food culture varies and while we do share many basic foods to overall lump American food as bland is not only an ignorant statement, but it shows that people saying that, don't know what they are talking about.

Now going back to this article. Who wrote this? I laughed all the way. Again, one person wants to generalize and paint a consolidated viewpoint of what it's like traveling to the states? Lets look a little closer.

Our friend took Delta to the United States, and it doesn’t seem like it was a very good experience.

That was the first mistake right there. Who in Gods name would fly with Delta? There is a reason why it is soooo cheap. Most Americans don't fly with Delta. You get what you pay for. Delta is one of the worst US carriers.

All plumbing is bad??? Which hotel? What was the name? Another overstated generalization. Why not relocate to either a different room or hotel?

Ok, that might be a little too much, I might have to agree with this one.

Again, it depends where you go and where you live, where I'm from. Usually, if the line has 3 to 4 people waiting, they will open another register. As for the staff talking to one another, I haven't seen it THAT often except for the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) where everyone cares about everything else except the people waiting in the long lines. Ask any average American and they probably have a horrific story to tell about the dreaded DMV.

Probably MOST Americans would never allow someone to dig in their ears with a giant toothpick while gently resting head on their partners lap. Creepy, not to mention. gross!This kind of crude medieval torture is usually not known in the states. We often use Sodium Peroxide to soften the ear wax and then flush it out with cotton swab or a small air blower.

I probably would agree about NY cabbies. They do tend to have a slight attitude problem.

That's the whole point. Unlike Japan, smoking is NOT seen as something cool. They want people to stop. Smoking for most of us is just not cool. Go to California where being a smoker will almost get you arrested. Seriously, you cannot smoke ANYWHERE in California except outside in designated areas. Good luck, smokers

This is an issue that airlines around the world still struggle to solve. But our friend had a pretty crappy experience and it was in the U.S., so it counts.

If that's true, then why does it specifically count in the US???

Who cares? you should bring your own.I always bring my own. Why would I want the hotels crappy toothbrush. I don't think most women would take free tampons if the hotel provided it.

Personally, I like the more dim light setting. I think in Japan they go nuts on the bright lights with everything. They even like driving with their high beams on.

Never had the problem. When nature calls, I will just walk into an establishment and politely ask the staff if I might be able to use their toilet, I never had anyone tell me, NO.

Ok, Japan does have America beat when it comes to vending Machines. Especially the beer vending machines, heaven!
3 ( +13 / -10 )

So you take ONE person's trip to New York and decide to generalize that his experience is now the overall Japanese opinion of traveling to the US as if everyone has these problems?

While some of these are most definitely understandable like the checkouts, things like a dirty seat on the airplane or ONE hotel that happened to have a hot water problem are pretty isolated things. Also, his weird complaint about not having black cotton swabs is insane- why would anyone expect that in America?

How about interviewing a large group of people and getting a consensus. Then maybe people will take you seriously...

24 ( +28 / -5 )

America is a big place.

I'm not disputing the fact that these things happened, but many of these are not particularly "American" in nature.

26 ( +29 / -3 )

Not really a list of "cultural differences" as it is a list of complaints of one Japanese traveler.

30 ( +37 / -7 )

Bland american food. And the fact that even the common foods.. steak, cheese burgers and pizza you'll be hard pressed to find done decently in the US.
-13 ( +13 / -26 )

While a pack of cigarettes usually goes for around 400 to 500 yen ($4 to $5) in Japan, they’re nearly double that in New York. Our friends said that for Japanese people the best thing to do is just bring some in their luggage. Quitting might not be a bad idea either.

http://www.theawl.com/2013/07/what-a-pack-of-cigarettes-costs-now-state-by-state

$12->15 a pack (people goto the Indian Reservations or across the border for cheaper). I would only throw in a few packs since they may try to fine (tax) you for a carton.

NYC jail:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/06/cigarettes-in-nyc-jails-smoking-ban_n_3224280.html

The black market for cigarettes in New York City jails thrived after Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned inmates from smoking in 2013. A single smoke (cigarette) behind bars could now cost you 30 dollars. Imprisoned and hankering for a whole pack? That'll cost you a whopping $200.

The Daily News reports 85 arrests have been made in connection to the sale of illegal cigarettes since 2012, including Thursday's arrest of Rikers deliveryman Stephen Freeman who allegedly planned to sell four bags of tobacco to inmates. And as most New Yorkers know, prisons aren't the only places rife with illegal smokes. The city's cigarette tax, the highest in the nation at $5.85, is reportedly pushing merchants to sell cigarettes from out of state. The merchants, it appears, aren't scared of the city's relatively low fines if they get caught. In hopes to combat the continued tax evasion and illegal sales, Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed legislation to increase the penalty from $150 per smuggled carton to $600.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites