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Quality of life in Japan: does it suck?

senseiman

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I've just returned to Japan after spending a month in Canada. It had been over two years since my last visit home and it was my Japanese wife's first visit. I'd forgotten how beautiful a country Canada is, and the visit so impressed my wife that we have just decided that we will be permanently moving to Canada next year. There are a few reasons for this decision and they all revolve around what we believe to be the much higher quality of life that people can attain in Canada. Here are some of our observations.

1. Housing. We did a little looking around and found that we could buy a quite sizeable house in a quiet neighborhood with a big tree filled yard for an affordable sum. In Japan it seems that even in the smaller cities everyone is crammed into tiny plastic houses in neighborhoods without trees. Quiet neighborhoods seem to be almost non existant even in the suburbs as massive freeways, pachinko parlours and factories seem to be built everywhere without any concern for how they will affect the people who have to live next to them.

2. Nature. In Canada we found tons of attractive parks and beautiful lakes and rivers that you could swim in, many of them only a short commute from the city centre. But in Japan, we live in a coastal city with two major rivers running through it in which there is not a single place where you can enjoy a swim. The seashore is covered with concrete and factories and what tiny amount of land is preserved as a beach is so covered in garbage you wouldn't want to go near it. The rivers are the same, with the additional problem that they are so polluted by industrial waste that the water will make you sick.

3. People. I would say that people in Japan and Canada are equally nice, though you are more likely to get mugged by a Canadian than a Japanese. What we noticed though was that Canadians seem to put a much higher priority on enjoying life than most Japanese do. Most Canadians work until about 4 or 5 PM and then go home and relax, pursue hobbies, spend time with the family, etc. Most Japanese work late into the evening, then have to go out drinking with their co-workers even though most of them would probably rather not. By the time they get home they are too tired to spend time with their family or to partake in any leisure activities. It sort of seemed that most Canadians are able to enjoy life much more than Japanese are.

After thinking about these things we tried to consider ways in which life in Japan is better than that in Canada and the best we could come up with is that Japan has a much better public transportation system. So we are leaving. Does anyone else have any input on the subject of the quality of life in Japan? I'd be interested to hear what people who have lived here for a really long time have to say about it.
 

den4

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quality of life is a relative term:

If you enjoy nature and the like, perhaps Canada is better...

I have one Aussie friend living in the heart of Tokyo and she loves it there.....saying that Sydney is boring in comparison...

I used to live in Yokohama...and it was ok, relatively speaking, but it's a give and take scenario....

Japan's convenience and service oriented society is great for shopping....whereas I find the non-uniform shopping in the states, where you have to go to several different shops to buy Non-American goods to make an asian style meal disconcerting...assuming you live in a city or town that even has an asian store....

but if you want land and a house that you can actually purchase, within your lifetime, want to return items if you are dissatisfied with them without arguments, want to avoid kilometer long traffic jams just to leave the city on the weekends, then you'd have to move to the countryside in Japan or leave Nihon altogether....

Probably the best view is trying to find what you like and make the best of it: there is no place that will satisfy you 100%, so best get used to that concept...otherwise you'll spend life searching for the elusive paradise that exists only in your mind...or on reruns of fantasy island on television.....

:D


which is better? that's also relative to each person's values....I don't think you can say which is better, except for yourself.....people tend to get bent out of shape because of their own values not matching somebody else's.....seems to be a problem in the States of late.....but that's how wars are started, isn't it? :D
 

Hanada Tattsu

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This world today is divided into three major categories in terms of travel, "Modern", "Beautiful", and "Poor".

Many countries in Africa and Asia fall under the Poor category, many countries in North and South America, as well as in Europe fall under the Beautiful category, and many in North America and Asia as well as in Europe fall under the Modern category.

Japan is in the modern category. If you go to cities like Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, and Kobe, you expect to find a dull station along with an array of tall buildings, and modern skyscrapers staring you in the face. But in Japan, there are also the beautiful cities, like Kyoto and Nara, which has a few two story buildings, but mostly, beautiful Shinto Buddhist temples dating back thousands of years.

Canada too. You have cities like Calgary, and Toronto, and even Quebec and Montreal which have thousands and hundreds of skyscrapers surrounding you. But, in the province of English-Scottish Columbia (a fancy name for British Columbia) you have beautiful lodges, etc.

So you decide. I would choose modern, but it's basically your decision.
 

maji

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Rent a flat in a modern city and get a summer house in a rural area :)
 

mdchachi

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> after spending a month in Canada...the visit so impressed my wife

You might want to take your wife for a month in Canada in the winter. A month now and a month in January is vastly different!

> best we could come up with is that Japan has a much better public transportation system
You forgot about the taxes. Japan has much, MUCH lower taxes. You should be able to save much more money in Japan.

Another nice thing about Japan is that there are great mountains for hiking & skiing within easy reach. There are also nice beaches (though not where you are, apparently). Actually there are quite a few recreational opportunities if you have money, the catch is it's often harder to take time off.

Japan is also a great base for traveling and exploring SE Asia and that side of the world. In Canada you're not really within easy reach of anything except the U.S.
In general, though, I agree with you that daily living is likely to be more comfortable in N. America for you.
 

neko_girl22

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I suppose I agree with his comments about housing. It's much easier to buy a good sized house with a nice backyard in countries such as Canada or my country, NZ. In Japan if you are able to buy a house you don't get much of a garden (let alone a backyard) with it.
I live in the countryside of Japan and it's beautiful, but we do plan to go back to NZ and buy a house in a year or two ;)
 

Erik

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Originally posted by senseiman
I've just returned to Japan after spending a month in Canada. It had been over two years since my last visit home and it was my Japanese wife's first visit. I'd forgotten how beautiful a country Canada is, and the visit so impressed my wife that we have just decided that we will be permanently moving to Canada next year. There are a few reasons for this decision and they all revolve around what we believe to be the much higher quality of life that people can attain in Canada. Here are some of our observations.

1. Housing. We did a little looking around and found that we could buy a quite sizeable house in a quiet neighborhood with a big tree filled yard for an affordable sum. In Japan it seems that even in the smaller cities everyone is crammed into tiny plastic houses in neighborhoods without trees. Quiet neighborhoods seem to be almost non existant even in the suburbs as massive freeways, pachinko parlours and factories seem to be built everywhere without any concern for how they will affect the people who have to live next to them.

I agree with this. Gernally speaking, you'll get more bang for your buck in canada for housing. building materials are relatively cheap here to begin with because of the vast resources the country offers. probably the only place as comparable for this would be the US, but the differences are minor. Just out of curiousity, canada is HUGE. Have you narrowed down as to where you'd like to move to in canada?

2. Nature. In Canada we found tons of attractive parks and beautiful lakes and rivers that you could swim in, many of them only a short commute from the city centre. But in Japan, we live in a coastal city with two major rivers running through it in which there is not a single place where you can enjoy a swim. The seashore is covered with concrete and factories and what tiny amount of land is preserved as a beach is so covered in garbage you wouldn't want to go near it. The rivers are the same, with the additional problem that they are so polluted by industrial waste that the water will make you sick.
[/B]

Can't agree with you more there. I'm always amazed with this place. In the summer, germans loves to take road trips across canada to enjoy the nature... they come over in droves renting mobile homes. Don't blame them!


3. People. I would say that people in Japan and Canada are equally nice, though you are more likely to get mugged by a Canadian than a Japanese. What we noticed though was that Canadians seem to put a much higher priority on enjoying life than most Japanese do. Most Canadians work until about 4 or 5 PM and then go home and relax, pursue hobbies, spend time with the family, etc. Most Japanese work late into the evening, then have to go out drinking with their co-workers even though most of them would probably rather not. By the time they get home they are too tired to spend time with their family or to partake in any leisure activities. It sort of seemed that most Canadians are able to enjoy life much more than Japanese are.
[/B]

I don't know about equally nice. Canada is very tolerant to other ethnic groups and quite polite, but again, generally speaking, you could find this form of tolerance in many other countries too. I've lived on both sides of canada all my life and visited japan many times. Even living close to the USA for years, I really did not notice too much of a difference. Customer service in my opinion is much nicer (or appears to be) in japan!

After thinking about these things we tried to consider ways in which life in Japan is better than that in Canada and the best we could come up with is that Japan has a much better public transportation system. So we are leaving. Does anyone else have any input on the subject of the quality of life in Japan? I'd be interested to hear what people who have lived here for a really long time have to say about it. [/B]

When my GF is finished her contract in japan, she's moving back to vancouver. She is japanese. I am canadian. We had the same discussion about which country to live in, and also, what city. We chose Vancouver because;

1) Lots of japanese people here, so she can have her japanese friends and have a girls night out or whatever. I admit, it's nice being able to be with friends from a similar homeland. Also handy because of all the shops they've setup, so buying japanese goods is quite easy to obtain here.
2) Great weather! Not humid like japan, very little snow, winter is NOT that cold compared to japan and the rest of canada! If I want snow, I can go up the mountains! However, lots of rain here, but it's quite comforting. The mountains protect us from all sorts of climate!
3) I will not have to worry about "blending" in japan.
4) Transportation is great here. Trains, planes, cars and ships... it's all here and convienent to use.
5) flying from vancouver to japan to visit relatives is a lot cheaper in vancouver than anywhere else in canada. =)
6) Her parents even expressed interest in moving here when they retire. They mentioned this to us before we thought of the idea where we would end up.

I'm sure there is other ideas we had too, but the only other place we could think of where to go was San Fransisco, but we' d have to give up our citizenships of canada and japan to be american. Sides, since neither of us has any friends or contacts in that city... seems kind of far fetched. Have to have some sort of safety net. =)

You should really narrow down the places to move to. Probably the best choices IMO are;

1) Vancouver
2) Victoria (very close to vancouver, and snow doesn't touch the city! Beautiful place!)
3) Toronto (climate closest to japan)
4) Calgary (very cheap here, but winter can be cold... )
5) Niagra Falls (also similar to toronto's climate. pretty!)
6) Banff (This is bottom of my list! Tourist place mostly for JPS)

I chose these cities because if a japanese person was looking for some goods from japan or the company of JPS, these cities probably offer the most then. I've also roughly placed them in order me and GF would choose. If you have any questions, feel free to PM me or ask here.

vancouver from my apartment;

 

senseiman

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That is interesting. We spent our time in Victoria, which is where my parents moved a few years ago after retiring. It is definitely where we want to live, and as you say it doesn't have the cold winters like the rest of Canada, especially in Ottawa, where I am originally from. IT is also a really beautiful city close to a lot of great nature.

Of course Japan has a lot of beautiful spots, but the problem is that they generally not in areas where people live, you have to travel way out to the middle of nowhere, which often takes so long that you can't just make casual visits unless you happen to live nearby.

For example, my sister lives in downtown Victoria. If she hops into her car, she is within about a 30 minute drive of dozens of really attractive lakes, rivers, parks, mountains, etc. So at the drop of a hat she can just up and go somewhere nice without having to do any planning or anything. Now, I live in a similar sized Japanese city, but I can't do that. There are lots of lakes, rivers and mountains within a 30 minute drive, but they have all been despoiled by concrete and massive amounts of garbage. If I want to go somewhere nice I'll have to plan on going 2 or 3 hours out of the city, which effectively discourages me from doing it as often as I'd like.

That is one of the big things that bothers us about life here. Also, in Victoria we noticed that almost everywhere we went we were surrounded by green trees and flowers. Industrial parks and big box stores were few and far between. But in Japan it seems to be the opposite, industrial blight makes up the majority of the visual landscape in most populated areas while trees and flowers are almost non-existant. It is a very depressing country to look at sometimes.
 

Erik

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Yeah, victoria is probably one of the few cities in canada that is covered in flowers... Niagra Falls would probably come closest behind that... but I'd much prefer to live in Victoria... Life is very slow paced there. Seems more like a retirement community than a provincial captial. If you don't mind me asking, what is it you do for work?
 

kinjo

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movin to Toronto in a couple of years for school (3D-design) 😄
 

noyhauser

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Erik. I guess live near the Broadway station? (Or Royal oak station... the two stretches of track look similar to me)

I was born and raised in White Rock (the most excellent suburb of Vancouver, a burb at all). I now go to school back east near Toronto (Queens) and soon will move to London to go to school there (maybe London School of Economics or Oxford or Kent). I can honestly say that I live in the most beautiful place on earth. In my past, I used to be a ski instructor... I had the choice of 7 mountains within 2 hours drive distance. There are mountains everywhere. All across Vancouver and victoria has trees in the streets, and parks every few blocks. You can go to Steveston and buy salmon off the docks... (well you used to). And talk about modern living.. go to Yaletown, the West end of Kitsilano in Vancouver... some of the most excellent places to live in the world.

Also, I'd never lived in Toronto or any city back east. The climate is most definitely not like Japan. I have never heard of a -30 degree winter day in Tokyo, or seen a student with frostbitten fingers. The summers may be comparable though, hot, muggy and oppressive. Not only that, Cities back east of British Columbia are FLAT, and during the winter are a texture of white and grey. It's depressing. Compared to Living in BC, it's a Gulag.

But, Vancouver is changing; it's starting to get spoiled. I am willing to bet by the time the 2010 Olympics come to be completely different. Only then in the last year have hundreds of subdivisions popped up in my area alone. It's quite sad actually.

Still the sunset yesterday made me forget it all.
 
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I'm from New Zealand. In New Zealand everything is cheap and the countryside is BEAUTIFUL (seen "Lord of the rings"?). We have amazing beaches which we take for granted, and a small population (4 million) in a country the size (and almost same shape!) as Japan.

When I first went to Japan I was amazed that...

*the "beach" my homestay family took me to see had gray water and oil tankers(!) going backwards and forewards

*we had to pay for parking at the beach!

*we had to pay at about 3 toll-booths to GET to the beach!

*schoolyards had DIRT playing fields!

etc etc....

I admit we're spoiled in N.Z....

You may ask- why do you live in Japan, then?

Well, it's more exciting, all my friends are there... and I like being "different." :)

As for quality of life: well, I guess if you'd grown up in Japan you'd think that was the "norm" and wouldn't know any better. Like my homestay family who took me to the "kirei" beach. :(
 

Erik

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Originally posted by noyhauser
Erik. I guess live near the Broadway station? (Or Royal oak station... the two stretches of track look similar to me)


Close. Joyce station. Mostly Asians in this area. But yes, the older SkyTrain stations pretty much all look the same. =)

I was born and raised in White Rock (the most excellent suburb of Vancouver, a burb at all). I now go to school back east near Toronto (Queens) and soon will move to London to go to school there (maybe London School of Economics or Oxford or Kent). I can honestly say that I live in the most beautiful place on earth. In my past, I used to be a ski instructor... I had the choice of 7 mountains within 2 hours drive distance. There are mountains everywhere. All across Vancouver and victoria has trees in the streets, and parks every few blocks. You can go to Steveston and buy salmon off the docks... (well you used to). And talk about modern living.. go to Yaletown, the West end of Kitsilano in Vancouver... some of the most excellent places to live in the world.

Wow. You really lived life to the fullest here eh? =) How long has it been since you've been in Vancouver? Does your family live in White Rock? White Rock is quite nice for the most part, but it's a little out of the way, but I think that's how most people prefer it. =) I'm not sure where Steveston is, but if you described it, I'm sure I'd recognize it. Is that near Granville Island?

Also, I'd never lived in Toronto or any city back east. The climate is most definitely not like Japan. I have never heard of a -30 degree winter day in Tokyo, or seen a student with frostbitten fingers. The summers may be comparable though, hot, muggy and oppressive. Not only that, Cities back east of British Columbia are FLAT, and during the winter are a texture of white and grey. It's depressing. Compared to Living in BC, it's a Gulag.

I wouldn't say I like Toronto much either. It's a nice place to visit, but I can't stand the idea of living there! The weather in Toronto can get quite cold, but usually, that's the humidity your feeling. -30 in Tokyo? I didn't realize it gets so low there! But again I agree about eastern cities (minus the Maritimes!) are quite depressing during the winter! Probably one of the reasons why I left!


But, Vancouver is changing; it's starting to get spoiled. I am willing to bet by the time the 2010 Olympics come to be completely different. Only then in the last year have hundreds of subdivisions popped up in my area alone. It's quite sad actually.

Still the sunset yesterday made me forget it all.

It's changing, but I'm sure you will recognize almost everything when you come back. The Olympics are changing a few things like adding more hotels, adding 2 more lanes to the sea to sky highway (which is quite sad IMO, but I guess needed), and talks are resuming about adding a third Skytrain route from downtown Vancouver to Richmond then to the airport. This is needed IMO as the congestion of traffic going to and from Richmond is insane. Hopefully, a rapid access train will get people to stop using their cars and use an alternative route to get to work.

What are you taking in school that has you jumping from place to place? Sounds expensive!!!
 
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Originally posted by nzueda
I I live in the countryside of Japan and it's beautiful, but we do plan to go back to NZ and buy a house in a year or two ;)

Oh, hi fellow Kiwi. :)

I'm from Newmarket, Auckland. You?
 

noyhauser

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Oh I'm here right now... but I go back to Kingston next week.

I hate easterners who say Toronto is a better city than Vancouver. I think they are just arrogant and can kiss my @##. Im saying it never gets to -30 in Tokyo... but it can in TO. Steveston is in southern richmond, it used to be the major cannary area of vancouver and still sells good fish

I forgot one major thing that makes Vancouver better than any city in North America... the Canucks.
 

senseiman

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There is no way Toronto is better than Vancouver. I'm from Ontario originally and even though it has its nice points, the west coast simply can't be beat.

It is a shame about all the development going on around Vancouver. Its happening on the island too. Around my parents house there are some really big new subdivisions going in that are going to really mess up the feeling of the area.

The thing that bothers me the most though is these rich asses who build a mansion on the top of a hill and then clear cut all the forest below the house so they can have an unhindered view of the water. They make the most horrendous eyesores. It displays a really serious lack of respect for the community that they live in.
 

Erik

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Originally posted by fut0n
Sheridan

I heard it's one of the best schools you could goto. It's quite hard to get into from what I hear. My friend went there and really enjoyed it. Best of luck with that. =)
 

Erik

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Originally posted by senseiman
There is no way Toronto is better than Vancouver. I'm from Ontario originally and even though it has its nice points, the west coast simply can't be beat.

It is a shame about all the development going on around Vancouver. Its happening on the island too. Around my parents house there are some really big new subdivisions going in that are going to really mess up the feeling of the area.

The thing that bothers me the most though is these rich asses who build a mansion on the top of a hill and then clear cut all the forest below the house so they can have an unhindered view of the water. They make the most horrendous eyesores. It displays a really serious lack of respect for the community that they live in.

I couldn't agree more with you. What part of ontario are you from?
 

kinjo

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Originally posted by Erik
I heard it's one of the best schools you could goto. It's quite hard to get into from what I hear. My friend went there and really enjoyed it. Best of luck with that. =)

Thnx man. Yea, it will be hard to get in to, but im really motivated to be the best in what i do (photoshop, 3D).
 

neko_girl22

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Originally posted by Ninja Rock Star
Oh, hi fellow Kiwi. :)

I'm from Newmarket, Auckland. You?

Hi Ninja!!🙂
I'm from the South Island - Little town called Oamaru. (Parents live there and were woken up by a 7.1 earthquake a couple of days ago - wow!)

I agree NZ is beautiful and many take it for granted, but Japan is also beautiful! I love Japanese countryside so much;)
 
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New Zealand is nice, but...

Unfortunately, immigration to New Zealand is nigh-impossible. I know of people that spend 6 months a year in Auckland and 6 in San Fran, because the gov't won't let them live in New Zealand full-time.
 
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Originally posted by nzueda
I'm from the South Island - Little town called Oamaru. (Parents live there and were woken up by a 7.1 earthquake a couple of days ago - wow!)

I agree NZ is beautiful and many take it for granted, but Japan is also beautiful! I love Japanese countryside so much;)

Oamaru- sure, I've been there.

I used to be what's called a JSG- a Japanese Speaking Guide- and I got to travel all around N.Z. with Japanese tour groups.

I got PAID to travel, stay in nice hotels, go to nice restaurants etc etc.. LOL! :) Tough job, huh? :)

As for Japan's countryside- in my ten years in Japan- unfortunately- I haven't really had the chance to see the real thing. I've lived in Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, Nagoya and Shizuoka (mostly Shizuoka). They call Shizuoka the "country," haha... Shizuoka City is bigger than Auckland!!

I really should travel more...............
 
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Re: New Zealand is nice, but...

Originally posted by MatthewRoberts
Unfortunately, immigration to New Zealand is nigh-impossible. I know of people that spend 6 months a year in Auckland and 6 in San Fran, because the gov't won't let them live in New Zealand full-time.

I didn't realise that. Bummer. :(

Actually, recently I was a Director of Studies (like a Principal) at a language school in Auckland and an American guy came in looking for a job (he had a Kiwi girlfriend but he wasn't married). I gave him a simple letter- an "Offer of Employment"- and he went off and got a 1-year work visa.

Admittedly, ESOL teaching was on the list of "priority" jobs- meaning, it was easier for foreign teachers to get work visas over other occupations.
 
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