Five Things I Miss About Japan

by Ed Lau on September 29, 2008

Shinjuku, city, blade runner, Tokyo, Japan

The other day I woke up and really missed the time I spent in Japan this summer. Seriously…enough that I contemplated moving there altogether. I’ve been to a lot of places but I think that Japan has to be right there at the top of the list as one of the most interesting, vibrant and fun places to be in the world. Here’s some of the things I wish we had in Canada…or even within a short drive to the US!

  1. Ease and speed of transport. While I did do a lot of walking (average of 15,000 steps a day, according to my pedometer) in Japan, for the most part the trains and subways were incredibly convenient. Sure, you might get wedged in with 127 million fellow sardines during rush hour but unless you’re somewhere incredibly remote, you’ll rarely wait more than 5 minutes. Not only that but you can travel a ridiculous distance in no more than half an hour. From one corner of the JR Yamanote line, which will take you to almost everywhere you need to be in Tokyo, to the other, it’s only a mere 30 minutes. The shinkansen bullet train took me the 165 miles from Nagoya to Tokyo in about 90 minutes in total comfort.
  2. Great food…all the time. Sure, Japan is the greatest culinary city in the world but at the same time, there’s fantastic food in nearly every major metropolitan city. The difference is…you can get totally decent food at just any hour. While you aren’t going to get any poisonous sushi at 3am (although you could head to Tsukiji at 5…), many Tokyo restaurants are open very late. While Canada’s idea of variety in midnight dining is whether you go to McDonald’s or Burger King drive-thru’s, there are all-night cafes all over the city. In fact, one of my favorite cheap meals was chicken karage at a 24-hour place. If all else fails, you can pick up some real decent onigri (rice balls), noodles or bento boxes at one of many convenience stores. In all honesty, you couldn’t possibly be more than 30 seconds from a convenience store at any given time.
  3. Fashion. I don’t mean just the fact that I can buy t-shirts from NBHD and Original Fake at half what I’d would pay in North America. I don’t mean how I can find premium Samurai or Sugar Cane selvage denim (also at about 50%). I also don’t mean how I can buy a variety of awesome sneakers from just about everywhere. Of course, I love all that stuff but more than anything, I love the fashion mentality of Tokyo. It seems as though everyone has put serious thought in what they put on that day and everyone is immaculately put together. I, of course, due to the heat and humidity was usually wearing Nike Pro Fit shirts and shorts and as such, I felt incredibly underdressed all the time. That sort of thing would never fly with the locals, who seem to put fashion over comfort. I mean, could you imagine wearing anything these Harajuku cosplayers are wearing considering it’s 35 degrees and 90% humidity?
  4. Security. I accidentally left my window open on more than one occasion as I slept in my shoebox apartment. In Canada, I might be robbed by some hippie jackass that blames rather than his laziness for his lack of funds. In the States, I wouldn’t be surprised if I was murdered. However, in Japan you really don’t have much to worry about. You could leave your luggage in the middle of a busy street and it would probably still be there hours later. Children and women can walk down alleys in the middle of the night without worrying about their well-being. While the homeless might harass you for change when you walk down Granville in Vancouver but there’s no such thing in Japan.
  5. Interesting…ness. There was never a lack of stuff to do when I was in Japan. Every day, I had an adventure. I don’t think I remember any time I was really bored. I could walk out my door with no idea what was I was going to do and end up exploring all the great nooks and crannies in the massive city. There’s also so much history everywhere. Canada is relatively young, as is the United States but there’s stuff in Japan that’s over a thousand years old. There’s musicians and cosplayers littering the streets every Sunday and festivals going on all the time. I find myself struggling to find something to do every day in Vancouver but that’s rarely an issue in Tokyo

Stay tuned for more on this subject tomorrow!

in Travel

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Custom T-Shirts Toronto September 30, 2008 at 11:05 am

Public transit is better in every single asian country I’ve been to. I haven’t been to Japan but have heard great things. Apparently a train is considered late if it arrives 15 seconds before/after the scheduled time.

Not to mention Asian public transportation are one of the few profitable transit systems in the world. Most transit systems around the world are subsidized by the government and provided as a service for the public and are hemorrhaging money.

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kouji October 3, 2008 at 12:28 pm

if i could visit, i would love to check out some of the cosplay that takes place there. really quite aesthetically pleasing, and done by such committed cosplayers. :O

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