Tokyo Weekender Magazine: Top 10 Reasons Why I Miss Japan

I just finished reading an article written by Benjamin Freeland, a Canadian who lived in Japan for 7 years, in the latest issue of Tokyo Weekender Magazine (Vol 40 No. 6).

Well, we are still living in Japan, after about 1.5 years of a 2 year international assignment with my company, but I can relate to most of the reasons listed by the author.  I have actually blogged about several of them.

Benjamin’s personal list of ten categories which he “believes that Japan stands head and shoulders above the rest of the world” are:

  1. Public Transportation – Fast, extensive and always on schedule
  2. Bathing – Unique onsen (hot spring) experience
  3. Postal System – Punctual delivery and convenient
  4. Stationary – High quality, inexpensive and ridiculously cute
  5. Money Management – Use of envelopes, hanko and plastic trays, plus no hidden taxes and no tipping
  6. Toilets – Quality and quantity of clean public toilets, space-age contraptions in private houses and modern buildings
  7. Convenience Stores – Very convenient and accessible, including services such as bill payment, package delivery
  8. Family Restaurants – Offers high quality entrees with all you can drink cappuccino and teas at low prices
  9. Social Cohesion – A nation of joiners of clubs, classes, community associations, matsuri (festivals), etc.
  10. Presentation & Aesthetics – From mouth-watering food replicas to advanced gift-wrapping

When we finally leave Japan to return home to Canada, I may write my own top 10 reasons, but not yet since that milestone is still many months away!

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10 thoughts on “Tokyo Weekender Magazine: Top 10 Reasons Why I Miss Japan

  1. Not just the konbini, post office, and trains…I think “Japan stands…above the rest of the world” because the whole country is generally safer, more convenient, with high quality…of nearly everything!

  2. Heated toilets in the winter!
    Maid cafe maids!
    Vending machines with hot canned coffee in the winter!
    No vandalized vending machines on the streets!
    Akihabara!
    Weird and wonderful snack foods!
    Vending machines that disperse cooked cup ramen!
    Gakken Adult Science kits available at cover price!
    No tipping at restaurants!
    “fresh” sushi really is fresh!
    Harajuku!
    Takoyaki!
    Cute girls!
    Weekly manga magazines in every conbi on every block!

    Excuse me while I catch my breath…

    • No fair, that’s more that 10 🙂 … well, if you are going to break the rules, I have about a list of 100. But since I am still living in Japan, I’ll have to create that list after I leave here and really start missing it (probably a day after I leave).

  3. That’s the thing about these kinds of lists – it’s easy to make them really long. The challenge is in paring them down to just the top ten.

    I especially like the Gakken Adult science kits. Gakken’s based in Japan, but there’s also DeAgostini (Italy, England and South Africa) and Hachette. They all have either inexpensive built-it kits, or serialized kits that you buy one a week or one a month. I can get them all here in Japan, and I’m pretty sure that none of these kits are available in North America, except as imports at 2-4 times cover price. Granted, the DeAgostini kits are 3 times pricier in Japan than in England, but at least they’re available here with the books printed in Japanese. I just got finished modifying Gakken’s Edison-style phonograph to add an external power supply, speed control, LED and power switch. (Kind of like putting a jet engine into a Model T Ford). I’m forcing myself to wait before buying Gakken’s wire recorder (which just came out yesterday) and the little synthesizer. The synth looks especially fun because it’s only 3000 yen, and the theremin can be modded to be used as an input to the synth. Also, I’m wondering if the wire recorder can also be used as an input to the synth…

      • I put a general overview of the kits on my blog (http://threestepsoverjapan.blogspot.com/2009/02/science-kits-and-others-in-japan.html)

        The most recent review was of kits 13 and 16, at http://threestepsoverjapan.blogspot.com/2009/03/gakken-kits-13-and-16.html. The other kit reviews can be found from my index page (http://knol.google.com/k/curtis-hoffmann/tsoj-blog-article-index/2orqqohq0ljio/6#).

        The Gakken Adult Science kits can be found at most bookstores, but usually just the most recent kits. Kinokuniya has most of the ones still in stock. The kits for children are most easily found at Kinokuniya, in the kid’s section. The really advanced kits (like the vacuum tube radio and the good Stirling engine) are at Kinokuniya only. Most kits can be found at amazon.co.jp as well.

        There there’s the DeAgostini kits, which include the model of the solar system (52 installments at one a week) and Nobunaga’s castle (at 100+ weekly installments). Hachett has the watch and sports car collections, and I think the DVD collections (Columbo, CSI, James Bond) are from them as well.

        I was planning on running my reviews of the phonograph and the stereo pinhole camera kits this week, but too many other events have come up lately and I’ll have to put it off until next week. (As it is, I blog on a daily basis, and even that seems to not be often enough for the material I have available to cover).

        America’s “Make” magazine has video reviews of some of the Gakken kits on youtube.

        So far, I’ve built the putt put boat, the Edison-style phonograph, the slow clock, the cheaper Stirling engine, the planetarium, the kaleidoscope projector, the stereo pinhole camera, the windup doll, the theremin, the Galileo-style telescope, and the magnet car.

        I own the Newton-style telescope and the movie projector but haven’t built them yet. Next on the list are the wind powered generator, the bird organ, the Edo-era static electricity generator, the wire recorder and the synthesizer. I really want the 4-bit microcomputer, but that doesn’t come out until June.

        The plain pinhole camera, the crystal radio, the projector microscope, the steam-powered car and the DaVinci helicopter are all out of print, and if they are available online, it’s at 3-5 times the original cover price. I haven’t decided if I’ll try getting them or not. Money is part of the issue, but I’m running out of places to store the kits that I have now.

  4. Pingback: Korea – On the shoulders of giants on other giants’ shoulders | Diffism

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