Japan is great, Japan is wonderful. I love some aspects here more than I love in my own country like feeling safer, how convenient and efficient things are, and how nice the people are. I could live here forever if I didn’t have other priorities back home. However, it isn’t without its annoyances. These are coming from my experiences being here for a while so it might be different depending on the placement. I am trying not to complain so these are just things I have noticed. But here are 10 little annoyances about life in Japan (from my perspective).
1. Finding a desk planner. This has been a freaking journey trying to locate and find a desk planner. Maybe because I am illiterate and dumb and can’t speak much Japanese, but I didn’t think it would be that hard to find one. Honestly! I searched in the places I normally would think a planner would be like a bookstore or stationary area (and I ended up stumbling into a secondhand porno shop in one place @_@). But I have searched high and low for one and no luck.
UPDATE: So now I know why it is so hard to find one. Desk planners are made for the calendar year and it is already September. I thought about a school planner maybe… but the school year starts in April. So needless to say, I may be SOL in getting one here.
UPDATE UDPATE: my friend from the states brought me one so my life is organized. Still, can’t stress how annoying that experience was.
2. Cheese is expensive. You have probably heard of other blogs or people saying how expensive Japan is with everything but that’s not true for some things. For instance, I can get a cheap, delicious, and not super bad for you meal from the grocery store for ￥200 or about $2 so that’s not bad. Cheaper than McDonald’s and probably better for you too. HOWEVER, some food is not the same. Cheese and fruits in particular are crazy expensive. I have yet to figure out why but they are. A little wedge of cheese will cost me about ￥700 and am I willing to spend that much? Ehhhh not yet. I am not that desperate yet. But give it time and I will need my cheese fix of everything! Same with fruits. I want to eat more fruits…but then I would have to pay for them. Yeah speaking of fruits, here is a picture of a ￥5000 melon (equivalent to $50 in the states). I know…it kinda sucks.
UPDATE: I caved and got cheese but from Costco! So mega cheese! Also pizza is crazy expensive too…
3. Trash and recycling EVERYTHING. Although a little annoying, it is overall better for the environment and I could see why Japan does it. It is just inconvenient for me to take one water bottle and have to separate it in three pieces and put the pieces in their respectable places. This is more of a personal lazy thing, but it is inconvenient when my table is full of bottles but the PET bottles won’t be picked up for another week. But the trash deal can be confusing and frustrating a little bit. In the states, at least where I lived, you can just toss what you don’t want and/or can give away in a dumpster and be done with it. In fancier places, there are designated trashcans for your general stuff, wood stuff, stuff stuff. But here…it is a little confusing as to where you toss your trash. I have had a box of cups and plastic things and aerosol cans that I need to toss…but where and how and what. I want to buy a new toaster oven…but where do I put my old one? I can sorta guess from my trash schedule but still…wish I could just dump it all in a dumpster and be done with it. But again, that is my laziness talking.
4. Walking and eating. I have been told that you cannot do that or that it is considered rude to so I just haven’t been. There was one day where I was like eff it and I ate an ice cream while walking (I know, right? Got a badass over here). I don’t quite understand why you cannot walk and eat and yet the food is so convenient for that purpose. Many things are either on sticks or in handheld portions (at least at konbinis) so why not walk and eat with it? If someone could tell me otherwise, that would be great. Recently, this became especially annoying when I bought a sandwich with the intention of eating it (and bread too) but it had to go to waste because I can’t walk and eat. Teaches me not to buy anything that perishes when in a hurry on the train or walking.
5. Some of the train lines. I understand that there cannot be a station at every city, especially if the city is out in the middle of nowhere. But it would be nice to be able to go a city that looks close on a map but type it into Google Maps and they are telling you to Shinkansen to it…that’s irritating. What I don’t quite understand is why do I have to wait an hour to get from one major station to another? On a weekend.
6. No paper towels or sometimes a hand dryer in the bathrooms. You have to pretty much bring a handkerchief in with you whenever you use the restroom or just always have one on you. It can be inconvenient when you forget it and you are left doing the shakey shakey drying thing. Or wiping it on your shirt. Either way, a little annoying.
7. My hanging rod thing in my closet keeps falling down. Haha it isn’t really an annoyance of living in Japan if you count not being able to modify my apartment an annoyance. I just need more storage places for my clothes since they are apparently heavy. That’s what I get for being a well-rounded individual in Japan…
8. It takes two hours to get anywhere. Again, probably just due to my placement. There are times when riding on a train for two hours isn’t so bad. If anything, it is very relaxing because it gives me time to just sit and do nothing but listen to music or read a little bit or catch up on my sleep. However, it starts to be annoying when you have two events going on in the same day and you are two hours away from one of them. It really makes you take into account travel time and worry about making things on time. Not so much a bad thing…unless you want to sleep a decent amount of hours or save a bit of money. I gets expensive being so far out and wanting to be social but you have to pay for it.
9. Smoking in restaurants. Before it didn’t bother me but being here for three months now and the honeymoon phase wearing off, I am starting to see how irritating it is to sit next to someone who is smoking while you are trying to enjoy your meal. Some places have designated smoking areas but with a door open, this does nothing. Smoke moves and I have a really heightened sense of smell, so I can’t get away from it.
10. The work ethic. This is probably the biggest annoyance and it has its pros and cons. The biggest positive thing is that there actually is a work ethic. So many times in the US, people complain about their job and all the little things like crappy customers, odd hours, or not enough pay. Bitch bitch complain complain about the littlest things that are, guess what? A part of the job. You can’t complain about dealing with customers when you signed up for it and it is a part of your job. Yeah, some people here might complain about it in private or amongst friends, but I don’t know any of it so perhaps I am overgeneralizing. But just based on what I have experienced and seen, people don’t complain about their job as much and just accept it for what it is and continue to do their work efficiently. The work ethic is the whole working hard thing and I tried to introduce a term to my JTE that I didn’t know if he knew it: “work hard, play harder”. I think if Japan implements that, it would make the work day a little better (and make perfect sense).
Here is the negative: sometimes people here work a little too hard or do so many unnecessary things that are expected of them. This is especially true for teachers. Holy crap guys…the teachers here do so much! Teach, grade, coach, lead school clubs and activities. And while it seems noble on the surface (doing so much for the students), it is actually seemingly damaging to the mind and body. Call it the silver lining of the gig, but coming in during a massive typhoon when the school is closed and there are no students and for what? Getting extra work done? Why do you physically have to be here? I guess because the government is paying you to be there so you HAVE to be there. To me, it just seems like a misprioritized sense of time. (UPDATE: I didn’t ask if my base school is an evacuation meeting area so that might make more sense as to why teachers need to be here during a typhoon but still!). In the land of convenience and efficiency, the workplace doesn’t seem to be that way sometimes. It’s funny because one of my teachers was the one who said not to work too hard because the work will still be there…and yet he works so hard himself.
Maybe it isn’t an annoyance but more of a concern. Nothing is perfect in every way and even though Japan seems to strive to make things easier and convenient for other people, they do not seem to want to make things easier and convenient for themselves. Silver lining to that nobility and consideration for others.
With all of these annoyances, I have come to just accept them for a part of life and not let them get me down, even though some do not make sense to me. If anything, it makes living here that much more charming and interesting. I think of well, how did it get that way or why do people do things that way as a curiosity standpoint rather than complaining about how inefficient or backwards it is. Things are put in place for a reason and they make sense in that given culture or time.
Except the smoking thing. That’s just bad for your health.
Those living here, what little things have you found to be a little annoying about life in Japan?
Those considering living here, what are your concerns about living here?