I was in Japan recently and I made some notes on a scrap piece of paper while on a train. The aim was just to list some things that were interesting/different about Japan compared to Australia. So, here’s the list:
- Rationing electricity: In the same way that water is rationed in Melbourne, electricity is currently rationed in Japan due to the Fukushima incident. Typical examples are 25% of office lights are removed, revolving door entrances are disabled every second elevator is disabled. The Japanese workers I spoke to didn’t mind the rationing at all and said that perhaps when it is over they won’t put their office lights back in because they quite like the darker environment.
- No hand towels in public toilets. You simply shake your hands or wipe them on your clothes. I guess the premise of washing your hands is that they are clean so wiping them on your clothes shouldn’t really matter. Right?
- Walk on the right on footpaths. Even though they drive on the left.
- Unmaintained nature strips and play areas. Some areas are completely unmaintained with grass that is above knee high. This includes children’s play areas. I suppose they don’t have our snakes
- Pruning trees. The Japanese have a very unique way of pruning trees, ultimately leaving a bush of foliage on the end of a long, trimmed branch. Some trees need to be supported using wooden framework due to this pruning method.
- Paper ads. In trains and elsewhere many advertisements, including posters, are simply paper held up by clips. In Australia that would be ripped down by some angry youth in an instant – but seems to work fine in Japan.
- Book sleeves on trains. Japanese people like to be reserved about what they are reading. They cover their books in public places with a book sleeve or with the paper bag the book was sold in. Sometimes you get the feeling the men are reading adult content, so there is some reason for it.
- Wearing holey socks at Buddhist temples. Don’t make this mistake.
- No food vending machines. While the Japanese love vending machines for every type of drink you can imagine – there are very few food vending machines. Perhaps because their taste for sweet confectionery is more reserved.
- Beer girls at baseball. They seem underage but they obviously are not. They run around selling as much beer as possible from backpacks with proper CO2 beer taps and then at a certain point they have disappeared. Must be regulated somehow.
- Vending machines in food courts. In a typical food court you do not order and pay a person at a register. You order and pay at a vending machine which prints a ticket, then you take the ticket to the shop counter and they give you a wireless beeper. When your meal is ready your beeper goes off and you collect. It’s very good, I really like this system. Much more efficient.
- Bi-lingual TV. Seems to be much more common there. Most movies are broadcast so that you can switch languages on the remote control. It’s great for tourists at least.
- Terrible English in pop music. It seems to be popular to inject some English phrases into pop songs there, and it seems to be done without any proof-reading by an English speaker.
- Driverless monorail. One exists in Tokyo. It’s a simple thing to automate, surprised there aren’t more. Impressive, none-the-less.
So there’s my basic list. Some cultural things that were interesting to me!