Japan is truly a nice country in which to live. For the most part the people are very pleasant and a lot has been done to make Japan a comfortable, clean and convenient place to live for all residents. I like the U. S. too but it is difficult to have the kind of convenience and variety in the U.S. that you can have in Japan. You would have to live in Manhattan or the downtown of a large city to come close to the convenience of Japan. Although I sometimes feel like I would like to have a car, due to excellent public transportation I really don’t need a car 99.9% of the time and I am fortunate enough to be able to borrow one for a few days if I need to from my wife’s relatives. So, I have no car headaches to deal with such as insurance, registration, maintenance etc. etc. Having driven every day for 36 years prior to coming to Japan can you imagine what a relief it is not to deal with the problems of owning a car? It is great!
The variety of food here is amazing. I often remember how similar most of the menus were at most of the restaurants we ate at in the states. Steak, fried chicken, pizza, pasta, sushi etc. were available there but on top of what you can find in the U. S. there might be 10x more selections here and there are so many restaurants to choose from. Excellent cake, pastries, bread and confections are within a short walk from my home and school.
Tipping is not a custom here. I guess it is OK and has become a necessary custom in most English speaking countries where the waiters and waitresses are working more for the customers than for the restaurants. Here the restaurants and eating establishments pay a more fair wage and there is no need to have a tipping custom. Not having to worry about tipping also simplifies life.
Very polite service and clean restrooms are the norm. In many cases you will not find same level of service and cleanliness in the states. Most places here are extremely clean and the staff are always very courteous. It’s a pleasure to eat out here.
Well organized supermarkets with plenty of choices of fresh produce, fish, meat and prepared foods are conveniently located to most homes. Can you imagine walking a few minutes from your home to buy everything you need? Or going to the post office or a bank also requiring only a short walk? The convenience is superb.
Of course if you are a person who needs to have a car, you also have a lot of choices. Again I think there may be twice as many choices as you have in the states. Japan has many companies that are busy designing and producing very economical small cars and trucks in a multitude of styles. So you don’t have to break the bank to own a car here also and you can own that X-5 or M-class if you must. On the other hand in many cases just riding a 50cc scooter may give you all the added mobility you need. So again you have all the choices you need but can, like me, choose to keep life simple. Having been a big producer at 24 tons of CO2 per year in my life in the U.S., I am happy to be producing only 3.8 tons/year now. I am doing my part to help the planet while providing a useful service to my students, while earning a good living and having a lot of fun.
Life is great here!
Al Bartle (Smith’s School of English -Okamoto)
Halloween Party with Okamoto School Students in October 2007! Jason Lives!!!!!
Universal Studios Japan July 2007 Cherry Blossom Viewing Party April 2007