20 Little Things You’ll Miss About Japan

20 Things You'll Miss About Japan

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I’m currently working on putting together a short video compilation of my time in Japan. While doing so, many memories and feelings surfaced and I began to miss that lovely country. Not simply because of the food or the cute Hello Kitty items everywhere but for the littler things that really made Japan special. Here is a list of the things that I miss about Japan in no particular order.


  1. Convenient Stores or konbinis– Whether your favorite was Sunkus, Lawson’s, 7-11 (or 7 and i-Holdings), or whichever, convenient stores are the most appropriately named stores ever. Making my own breakfast before work became pretty pointless once I discovered breakfast at konbinis or convenient stores. Hard boiled eggs for under 100 yen, and they were always boiled the perfect amount of softness and hardness. Salads for 100 yen? Smoothies? It was all there. If I needed a picture printed, convenient stores, if I needed to buy a bus or plane ticket, convenient store, if I needed to pay a bill, convenient stores.
  1. Moist towels or oshibiri– are provided at every eating establishment that you go to. Wash your hands with them, or wipe your face, either way, you were always clean before your meal with these genius inventions.
  1. The nature sounds that played when you need to use the potty— Have no fear when you need to go potty in a public restroom. Just enter the stall, pull down your pants and relieve yourself to the gentle sounds of a trickling waterfall, a rushing stream, and Snow White’s overly enthusiastic birds. No one will ever know what you’re actually doing.
  1. Feeling of security that if you lose something, it will always be returned to you— I lost my wallet with my passport in it and it was returned to me 4 hours later. I lost my cell phone for 2 weeks only to find I left it in a drawer at a matsuri (festival) shop when looking through their drawer of fans (not my proudest moment). 
  1. Festivals— Festivals are a big deal. Summer festivals, snow festivals, penis festivals… Rice wine, happi, yukatas, kimonos, chants, packs of people. Festivals are the greatest thing to witness when you visit Japan as they are always so lively and full of tradition.


    Sansa Oodori Festival in Morioka, Japan

  1. A celebration of seasons— The first day of summer, the first snowfalls, the changing of the leaves, the blossoming of sakura… the Japanese seem to pinpoint the timing of all of these seasonal changes and everyone spends their free time going out to enjoy them.
  1. Umbrellas– Japanese people are always prepared for rain. They carry their umbrellas with them wherever they go. Umbrellas are so common in Japan that they are often forgotten at bars, restaurants or even 7-11s and are the only item that Japanese people steal without shame (that umbrella was a gift, you thief!).


    Umbrellas everywhere!

  1. Slow drinking until 7 am– In the United States, shots, shots, shots, is a big thing, hence why many people don’t make it past the 2 am mark, and if they do they won’t remember it as they’ll have blacked out from the massive amounts of alcohol. In Japan it’s different. Alcohol is drunk slowly and in moderation resulting in plenty of nights that began with sunsets and ended with sunrises.
  1. Yelling “sumimasen” or the call button when you need something at a restaurant-– Having worked in the restaurant industry in the United States, I probably would have been annoyed and insulted if you simply yelled out “Excuse me” with the expectation of me to immediately respond and cater to you. But yelling this out is completely normal in Japan and you are immediately met with a positive response from the staff. I think the call button was made to eliminate the yelling of “sumimasen” though but it works just the same.
  1. Onsens– you’d think that such a conservative country as Japan would frown upon nudity, but in actuality, it’s celebrated and an onsen is the best place to go for it. Need to relax, free and liberated from the stresses of life? Strip down to your bare skin at an onsen where you can soak all your exposed body parts in the natural hot, steaming water of the earth.
  1. The horrible use of English– Japanese people buy shirts with English on it not because they know what it actually says but because it fascinates them. They may not know what it means, but it’s English, and that’s pretty cool, right? Seeing “I’m gonna make you scream Daddy Oh” on my 3 year old students’ t-shirt was evidence of that…


    Just one example of Japanese use of English.

  1. Karoake– oddly enough I never became sick of karaoke because there is nothing quite like singing karaoke with Japanese people. They constantly request Taylor Swift or One Direction. Just so you know.
  1. When one syllable words or sounds can mean so much– Eeeeehhhhhhhhhhhh (ex: “Wow, I’m impressed” or “No way!”), ne (ex: “Isn’t it?” “Right?”), so (ex: “Really?” “Is that so?”)
  1. Nomihodais– nothing like a 2 hour all-you-can-drink session for $20-$30.
  1. Japanese dances, or songs that EVERYONE knows– during my time in Japan the song Honnojinohen was popular as well as R.Y.U.S.E.I. by J Soul Brothers. My 12 year old students to my friends at the bar all knew these dances and yes, they all performed them loud and proud.
  1. Omiyagi– it’s tradition in Japan that if you visit another city even if it’s for a day, that you bring back some kind of souvenir called omiyagi– usually the edible type– to your coworkers or close friends. I’ll admit that I was really bad at remembering this tradition since I never get souvenirs even for myself, but boy did I receive a lot of omiyagi.
  1. Bicycles– many people on their way to work, dressed in business suits or long skirts, will ride their bikes. They look like they’re straight out of the 50s and it’s adorable.  
  1. Walking into a store and hearing “Irasshimasei!”— “Welcome!” Why thank you lively automated voice.
  1. A sense of privacy– while I enjoy meeting new people and talking to new people, sometimes I like peace and quiet. The Japanese are very private and will never intrude on your privacy. If i want to read a book on the train, I know I can without intrusion, if I want to get some writing done at the coffee shop, it’s totally normal that I’m alone. Even going to the bar alone is completely normal.
  1. Japanese people– many seem to think that Japanese people are too serious and don’t know how to have a good time when it’s quite the opposite. Japanese people are always so goofy and unashamed. They live with a child like demeanor and do the craziest things without embarrassment.  


If you live or have lived in Japan you would understand exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, I hope that this list has made you curious enough to visit the country. There are so many things about Japan that I miss, but these are some small things that really made Japan special to me.

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My name is Tuliyani, traveler, adventurer, dreamer, and bartender. I’m slightly obsessed with finding cheap flights to anywhere and doodling. 


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