“WHAT!!” You may be shrieking at your computer. As far as most bloggers know; I’ve hit the jackpot. I live in Japan, for what it’s worth.
Unfortunately for many, or perhaps fortunately, is that Japan is not the holyland that anime and popular culture would have you believe. At least, for those of us non-Japanese that reside here with ‘real people’ and or ‘adult’ jobs. Like any country when you peel back the shiny honeymoon stage, and the ‘everything is wonderful and nothing is wrong’ mentality, there’s some things you grow to hate. Living in Japan for me, is not different except now I have bills to pay, lesson plans to write a few things that I have grown to hate’.
I put ‘hate’ in quotations since I rarely hate anything. I don’t really express or use that feeling, truly. I’d describe most of this as mildly inconvenient and someone I just wish it was different, rather then hate. But trying to use that as a title just isn’t as attention grabbing. Without further ado; three things I ‘hate’ about Japan.
No Central AC or Heating
I’m pretty sure the majority of you guys are double taking. It’s true, please take my word for it, that the grand majority of Japan’s buildings don’t have central heating and cooling. I don’t have a resource other then the amount of oil heaters, kotatsu, and heat-by-room being the norm in Japan.
The school rooms in Japan? All have a heater. The teacher’s office? Heater. Your house? As many rooms you have, you might need to get heater for each room. That’s just how it’s done, and few to no homes have central AC or heating. This does include department stores, even in the technology savvy Tokyo.
I’ve seen arguments, for against and everything in-between so I won’t bore you guys with the details. As for me, I don’t mind not having an AC in the summer. Aomori has pretty mild summers. All it takes for me is to open a window and have a bit of the ocean breeze going and I’m fine. I barely used my fan in the summer months.
I am struggling with heating though as winter approaches. Having two different heaters installed was a weird experience, but now I have a decent sized one that heats my living area. My room has a small electric heater that I only use first thing in the morning, and last thing at night. It is a struggle to get up first thing in the morning though.
Lack of Headlight Usage
My area gets a fair bit of fog. Nothing quite like Persona or Silent Hill, but enough where the low lights should be on to let people know you’re there. Especially coupled with the fact the majority of my town has a grey, white or black cars. You would think low-light/headlights would be used more. The answer is no.
This phenomena is not a Japan exclusive; this is a world wide deal of bad driving. The danger level is considerably escalated in Japan, with fog, high speeds, no headlights used, no highway dividers, and tack on last that we’re driving up a mountain and attempting to pass a bus.
My specific example from before I had my car, but it still is going down in one of my most off putting moments thus far. My office has a fleet of black mini vans, and I was being driven to an event of some sort. It’s mid-morning, but overcast with slight fog, and a drizzle on top of it. My boss is currently whipping around tight, blind corners at approximately 65-70 miles and hour, with the intention of passing the bus, up a mountain.
Reminder there is no divider, just a solid line separating us from on coming traffic. Somehow we do not clip or hit any cars or the bus itself, but we come close. Much to close for comfort in some instances.
I suggest that perhaps, he could put on his low lights so other drivers can see him. Obviously, some driving laws are different between countries but I’m use to Illinois law. Which is, if your windshield wipers are going your lights should be on. I understand, that driving law is not universal.
My boss laughs good naturally. He follows up with ‘Why would I do that? they won’t help me see’, and I visibly cringed. The rest of the trip my breath was baited.
I found out that this is a largely common behavior in Japan. Something that my fellow teachers, and my neighbors have found almost annoying about me is the use of my headlights. Sorry, I drive a little grey toaster car but that does not mean I want to become toast.
Snacks are good but it takes a whole bag
Call me a glutton; you wouldn’t be wrong. I love snacks. I am a chocolate addict since I was a child. I will try anything once, and on top of it all I never say no to food. Japanese snacks are the absolute BEST.
They don’t use high fructose corn syrup. Across the board, all the ‘bad stuff’ that’s in most American candy is lower. Use of cacao in chocolate products is low, minimal use of oils/grease, less salt, less sugar, overall less of the ‘bad stuff’ that makes these foods comforting. Therefore, for those of us use high rates of it, usually have to eat more to get the desired comfort level.
My best example is chocolate. I can eat just one Fannie May chocolate bar, and I will have my chocolate fix settled all day. If I try to get the equivalent with Japanese chocolate; there is none. I will eat several smaller sized chocolate bars, usually Black Thunder, over a longer period of time to get that dopamine release or the ‘comfort’ feeling.
You can argue that this is a personal problem and I should learn some self control. Fair. But this goes beyond junk food, as I’ve run into other expats with similar issues with Japanese dairy, coffee, and even restaurant french fries. Yes, overall these foods are smaller portions and healthier then their American counterparts. It does take longer for us expats to get that comfort feeling aka dopamine from eating.
Or you can just accuse me of being the stereotypical fat American; I can’t stop you on that one but I can delete your comment (*insert winking emoji here*).
And that about does it, three things I ‘hate’ about Japan. I’m curious what if anything other expats have to say about this or things I’m missing. Anything surprise you, or maybe it more similar to where you’re from? Let me know in a comment down below.