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What do you dislike about living in Japan?

Kinetic11

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Most of the people here are Japanophiles, and if not living there already, at least want to travel there at some point. I thought it could be helpful for those of us that have yet to go to hear all the different angles beforehand so we know what to expect.

Nothing I've read so far on my own has swayed me, and I doubt anything will, but I am glad to know. For example I read that hospitals close at night and on weekends, which seems crazy to me as a westerner. Most places don't have central heating, and anywhere outside of Tokyo is shockingly low-tech (correct me if any of this is misinfo).

For those living there, is there anything like this that took some getting used to, or you wish you would've known before going?
 

Kinetic11

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One thing I did read that concerned me a little bit was that, basically if you're not Japanese you'll never really be accepted. They're so extremely homogenous and particular about Japanese descent, that even Korean people that were born in Japan and speak only Japanese are not given the same rights.

If I go there and marry a Japanese woman I don't not want a dark cloud looming over me and my family just because we're "different"

Is what I read an exaggeration or is there really an anti-foreigner vibe?
 

ddblue0

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I have lived in Japan for a very long time, and speak the language fairly well. I am aware of politeness levels, and I know the correct protocol for a number of situations.

However, when I go to a new place, such as a post office or small store, the people there will sometimes see me and react in a "panicked" sort of way.

This goes away once I open my mouth to speak, but it kinda makes me a little sad getting the Godzilla reaction every time I set foot in a new place. I don't like inspiring that kind of reaction in people.
 

ddblue0

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One thing I did read that concerned me a little bit was that, basically if you're not Japanese you'll never really be accepted. They're so extremely homogenous and particular about Japanese descent, that even Korean people that were born in Japan and speak only Japanese are not given the same rights.

If I go there and marry a Japanese woman I don't not want a dark cloud looming over me and my family just because we're "different"

Is what I read an exaggeration or is there really an anti-foreigner vibe?
I would say it really depends on the woman's family and the company they keep.

This has definitely improved over time, with fewer and fewer people reacting negatively to international couples, but each family is different.
Japanese people have a whole other level of "kuuki wo yomu" (reading the air) thing going on, and even if you speak the language you may not be able to perceive reactions her or her family get as a result of your being together. That said, who cares? If she doesn't, and her family don't, then neither should you.
 

Kinetic11

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I have lived in Japan for a very long time, and speak the language fairly well. I am aware of politeness levels, and I know the correct protocol for a number of situations.

However, when I go to a new place, such as a post office or small store, the people there will sometimes see me and react in a "panicked" sort of way.

This goes away once I open my mouth to speak, but it kinda makes me a little sad getting the Godzilla reaction every time I set foot in a new place. I don't like inspiring that kind of reaction in people.
Yeah I figure that is something I will have to get used to. I understand that they automatically assume, since probably 99% of gaijin they encounter won't speak their language, but I'm sure it is a bit unwelcoming.
 

Kinetic11

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I would say it really depends on the woman's family and the company they keep.

This has definitely improved over time, with fewer and fewer people reacting negatively to international couples, but each family is different.
Japanese people have a whole other level of "kuuki wo yomu" (reading the air) thing going on, and even if you speak the language you may not be able to perceive reactions her or her family get as a result of your being together. That said, who cares? If she doesn't, and her family don't, then neither should you.
As long as it doesn't affect things like jobs and promotions!
 

Kinetic11

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Something that would be funny to do to the panicky ones is go up to them and say, "Hi! Hi!" Then continue in Japanese, "Yes! I speak your language." 'Nihongo ga wakaru mas' is that correct?
 

WonkoTheSane

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Those who complain about acceptance are probably searching for something they couldn't find at home because it doesn't exist. The welcoming committee doesn't appear at Narita and they drown their sorrows (and avoid doing the work of developing their Japanese language and social circle) in foreigner bars with foreigners. The truth is that it takes time to grow roots, and the people who do are probably rarely on the internet lamenting about the absence of acceptance.

The long and short of it is that, as with much of life, the experience you have is the experience you deserve through earning it.

As for me, I'm not a huge fan of the sweetened bean paste. You might like it though, and I encourage you to try it for yourself.
 

ddblue0

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Something that would be funny to do to the panicky ones is go up to them and say, "Hi! Hi!" Then continue in Japanese, "Yes! I speak your language." 'Nihongo ga wakaru mas' is that correct?
Close! It's "Nihongo ga wakarimasu!" :)
 

Mike Cash

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Close! It's "Nihongo ga wakarimasu!" :)
Welcome to JREF.

Unless you're replying to the post immediately above your own it helps if you include the post you are replying to.

EDIT:

Nevermind, the problem was on my end. I didn't realize the latest version of the forum software did such a thorough job of eliminating all traces of content from those on one's Ignore List.
 

Mike Cash

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I read that hospitals close at night and on weekends, which seems crazy to me as a westerner. Most places don't have central heating, and anywhere outside of Tokyo is shockingly low-tech (correct me if any of this is misinfo).
You no doubt read this glittering jewel of misinformation:

5 Things Nobody Tells You About Living in Japan | Cracked.com

Does any of the nonsense in the section on hospitals strike you as being plausible?
 

Kinetic11

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Does that mean you took me off your ignore list, Mike? Aww I feel so accepted now.
 

mdchachi

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For those living there, is there anything like this that took some getting used to, or you wish you would've known before going?
Some of my most unpleasant experiences/memories in Japan involved cockroaches.* So be aware they exist, at least in Tokyo, Kyoto, etc. And it's one reason my wife has no desire to go back to Japan to live. She hates bugs. We have lots of bugs here including killer mosquitos but only for half the year and no cockroaches.

* a couple of specific examples, (1) buying a used refrigerator that turned out to be infested with them or (2) going to a okonomiyaki place in Kyoto, selecting an out of the way table and having a bunch of cockroaches skitter out over the grill after the octogenarian lit the burner. He was all nonchalant about it and brushed them off like it was no big deal and we ended up eating there(!)
 
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Kinetic11

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Some of my most unpleasant experiences/memories in Japan involved cockroaches.* So be aware they exist, at least in Tokyo, Kyoto, etc. And it's one reason my wife has no desire to go back to Japan to live. She hates bugs. We have lots of bugs here including killer mosquitos but only for half the year and no cockroaches.

* specifically, (1) buying a used refrigerator that turned out to be infested with them or (2) going to a okonomiyaki place in Kyoto, selecting an out of the way table and having a bunch of cockroaches skitter out over the grill after the octogenarian lit the burner. He was all nonchalant about it and brushed them off like it was no big deal and we ended up eating there(!)
Hah that does suck! I have no experience with cockroaches but growing up around Oklahoma/Arkansas border I'm no stranger to pesty insects. My biggest problem (and fear) growing up was scorpions. I don't know if it was the location of my house, or what, but we were always infested. They're very hard to kill, so pest control only ever temporarily handled it. Snakes can be a problem around here too, but thankfully I never personally got bit/stung growing up.
 

Lothor

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What don't I like about living in Japan? All the unnecessary noise.
Just been to the bank. In front of me were cash machines bleeping, above me was a recorded announcement being played through speakers, there was also background music, an unwatched television on to the right of me and the security guard behind me bellowing out greetings every time someone entered or left the bank, sometimes he's joined with a bank employee doing exactly the same thing.

And don't get me started on election cars, CDs of adverts on endless loop in the supermarkets, sodai gomi trucks, fatuous safety announcements on escalators...!
 

johnnyG

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I dislike it when I talk about something that's normal here (transportation, healthcare, etc.), and then people from the states respond with "why do you hate america."
 

Petaris

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Most of the people here are Japanophiles, and if not living there already, at least want to travel there at some point. I thought it could be helpful for those of us that have yet to go to hear all the different angles beforehand so we know what to expect.

Nothing I've read so far on my own has swayed me, and I doubt anything will, but I am glad to know. For example I read that hospitals close at night and on weekends, which seems crazy to me as a westerner. Most places don't have central heating, and anywhere outside of Tokyo is shockingly low-tech (correct me if any of this is misinfo).

For those living there, is there anything like this that took some getting used to, or you wish you would've known before going?
The answer is different for everyone. You really just have to go to Japan a few times and see what you like or don't like. I say a few times because the first time is like the wedding night, everything is new and awesome, the second time you are at the end of your honeymoon and everything still seems awesome but you start to notice a few minor things that are a bit annoying, the third to fourth time you go you are past the honeymoon and are used to the previously awesome things which means you start to look at some things in a different light. Each trip after that you get more used to what life in Japan really is.

Then you end up in one of three places:
1) You still love it even given its faults and think its better than anywhere else you would want to live.
2) You accept that its just like any other place that you could live and it has both its pluses and minuses but your thoughts that its the best place in the world to live have greatly mellowed.
3) You find that too many things about the place bother you and you just can't see yourself living there. You may still think its a neat place to take a vacation to but that is as far as you would go.

You can ask for examples all you like, but the fact is that some of things presented might not bother you at all, and other things not mentioned because they don't bother the poster might extremely irritate you. I'm not saying that asking people what their likes/dislikes are is pointless, just saying that you shouldn't overly concern yourself with the responses as they are all just personal opinions.

Have fun on your trip to Japan. :)
 

Kinetic11

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The answer is different for everyone. You really just have to go to Japan a few times and see what you like or don't like. I say a few times because the first time is like the wedding night, everything is new and awesome, the second time you are at the end of your honeymoon and everything still seems awesome but you start to notice a few minor things that are a bit annoying, the third to fourth time you go you are past the honeymoon and are used to the previously awesome things which means you start to look at some things in a different light. Each trip after that you get more used to what life in Japan really is.

Then you end up in one of three places:
1) You still love it even given its faults and think its better than anywhere else you would want to live.
2) You accept that its just like any other place that you could live and it has both its pluses and minuses but your thoughts that its the best place in the world to live have greatly mellowed.
3) You find that too many things about the place bother you and you just can't see yourself living there. You may still think its a neat place to take a vacation to but that is as far as you would go.

You can ask for examples all you like, but the fact is that some of things presented might not bother you at all, and other things not mentioned because they don't bother the poster might extremely irritate you. I'm not saying that asking people what their likes/dislikes are is pointless, just saying that you shouldn't overly concern yourself with the responses as they are all just personal opinions.

Have fun on your trip to Japan. :)
Thank you for well thought out response! It will be at least two years before I go, which is good in a way because that will give me time to learn as much of the language as I can. Still I am pretty excited about it :)
 

Glenski

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You no doubt read this glittering jewel of misinformation:

5 Things Nobody Tells You About Living in Japan | Cracked.com

Does any of the nonsense in the section on hospitals strike you as being plausible?
Yup, some of this information is correct, but so much is outright wrong. A lot is misleading. Note that it was written in 2012, so the part about not ever seeing a 24-hour ATM has changed, for one.

"What do you dislike about living in Japan?"
This will be pretty subjective, so keep that in mind.
  1. I have to agree with someone who earlier mentioned noise pollution. Some stores have too loud announcements and background music playing, and the election trucks and some garbage trucks have their own brand of insanely loud crap coming out of them. Walk through fish markets in some supermarkets, or go to the bottom floor of department stores where they have the gift food shops, and vendors are calling out their wares louder than a carnival barker. Another noise I dislike is the shrill shrieking of bicycle brakes, and the fact that people don't slam them on until the last possible moment, which puts the bike almost upon you.
  2. Public transportation and many buildings are on a strict schedule for turning on the heating or air conditioning. That can often be too late for personal comfort. What do you do? Deal with it. It won't change.
  3. No daylight savings time. Minor frustration, but it's the case here.
  4. Incredibly complex system of options for cell phones/Internet service. How many bells and whistles can you put on such devices?!
  5. I was prepared for the crowds in public transportation to some degree, but believe it or not, some of the politeness is infuriating. Yes, politeness. What I'm talking about is how some people will be in their own world and block doorways or entries/exits to escalators and such, but nobody will tell them to move because they are too polite (to upset the harmony, if you can understand that!).
  6. Some people will tell you that they dislike sitting/standing on public transportation, and when Japanese enter, they often avoid sitting/standing near them. Hey, you don't have that bad breath or BO! Me, I just enjoy the extra space around my gaijin force field.
  7. As much as I enjoy some of the transparency in policies where I work, the inflexibility in them can sometimes be irritating to the point of being comical. (A related one goes like this: you check into a hotel, and because of your foreign face, they automatically assume you are a tourist. So, they ask for your passport. All they need is some form of ID. Some hotels will refuse to accept the fact that you are a resident and insist on copying your alien card or getting the passport number off it somehow. Minor hassle despite its illegality.)
  8. I'm sure there are other things that I could find that I dislike, but perhaps the most common one is the plethora of foreigners (usually my fellow Americans) who seem to do nothing when they talk about Japan except complain about it because it doesn't conform to their own lifestyles.
  • Boo hoo (the doorways are short)
  • Boo hoo (you need ID for some beer vending machines)
  • Boo hoo (women don't know how to date/kiss/roll in the hay the way you like)
  • Boo hoo (vegies and fruit are sold at the peak of freshness and don't last long)
  • Boo hoo (people stare at you because you don't look Asian)

This is not your country. So, get used to its differences. International flights go both directions here.
 

Kinetic11

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Yup, some of this information is correct, but so much is outright wrong. A lot is misleading. Note that it was written in 2012, so the part about not ever seeing a 24-hour ATM has changed, for one.

"What do you dislike about living in Japan?"
This will be pretty subjective, so keep that in mind.
  1. I have to agree with someone who earlier mentioned noise pollution. Some stores have too loud announcements and background music playing, and the election trucks and some garbage trucks have their own brand of insanely loud crap coming out of them. Walk through fish markets in some supermarkets, or go to the bottom floor of department stores where they have the gift food shops, and vendors are calling out their wares louder than a carnival barker. Another noise I dislike is the shrill shrieking of bicycle brakes, and the fact that people don't slam them on until the last possible moment, which puts the bike almost upon you.
  2. Public transportation and many buildings are on a strict schedule for turning on the heating or air conditioning. That can often be too late for personal comfort. What do you do? Deal with it. It won't change.
  3. No daylight savings time. Minor frustration, but it's the case here.
  4. Incredibly complex system of options for cell phones/Internet service. How many bells and whistles can you put on such devices?!
  5. I was prepared for the crowds in public transportation to some degree, but believe it or not, some of the politeness is infuriating. Yes, politeness. What I'm talking about is how some people will be in their own world and block doorways or entries/exits to escalators and such, but nobody will tell them to move because they are too polite (to upset the harmony, if you can understand that!).
  6. Some people will tell you that they dislike sitting/standing on public transportation, and when Japanese enter, they often avoid sitting/standing near them. Hey, you don't have that bad breath or BO! Me, I just enjoy the extra space around my gaijin force field.
  7. As much as I enjoy some of the transparency in policies where I work, the inflexibility in them can sometimes be irritating to the point of being comical. (A related one goes like this: you check into a hotel, and because of your foreign face, they automatically assume you are a tourist. So, they ask for your passport. All they need is some form of ID. Some hotels will refuse to accept the fact that you are a resident and insist on copying your alien card or getting the passport number off it somehow. Minor hassle despite its illegality.)
  8. I'm sure there are other things that I could find that I dislike, but perhaps the most common one is the plethora of foreigners (usually my fellow Americans) who seem to do nothing when they talk about Japan except complain about it because it doesn't conform to their own lifestyles.
  • Boo hoo (the doorways are short)
  • Boo hoo (you need ID for some beer vending machines)
  • Boo hoo (women don't know how to date/kiss/roll in the hay the way you like)
  • Boo hoo (vegies and fruit are sold at the peak of freshness and don't last long)
  • Boo hoo (people stare at you because you don't look Asian)

This is not your country. So, get used to its differences. International flights go both directions here.
It sounds like those Americans are, well, typical Americans that are always needing something to complain about. Beer vending machines, never seen one but it makes sense you would need an ID for it. And who in their right mind would complain about fresh produce? What I hate is NOT being able to find fresh produce, especially bananas and avacodos, so you gotta wait a few days to eat what you bought! Not always, but often the whole selection is like that. I'm already prepared to be viewed and treated differently to some extent because of my ethnicity. As homogenous as Japan is, that's to be expected.

I have to say, for me, I'm very happy about no daylight savings time! I call it daylight destroying time. I personally think it should be the other way around. It already gets darker in the winter earlier so why do we make it get dark even earlier? If it were the other way around it would get dark at 7 (which is still earlier than summer) rather than 5.
 
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Kinetic11

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It will take time for me to get used to soft water (I read that somewhere else). I'm so used to hard water, when I shower with soft water I feel slimy like I'm not getting all the soap off. But that's not a big deal, and I think soft water is healthier anyway, especially if you're drinking it.
 

Lothor

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I have to say, for me, I'm very happy about no daylight savings time! I call it daylight destroying time. I personally think it should be the other way around. It already gets darker in the winter earlier so why do we make it get dark even earlier? If it were the other way around it would get dark at 7 (which is still earlier than summer) rather than 5.
I think the point about daylight savings time in Japan is that the clocks would go forward one hour in the summer, so it would get dark an hour later in the summer, rather than an hour earlier in the winter.
I'd be in favour of this for two reasons.
First, more light in the evening would be good for playing with the children outside.
Second, in Tokyo in summer, it gets light about 4am when few people need the light. As a result, by commuting time, the sun has been up for a few hours and it's baking hot. The sun rising an hour later would make commuting less unpleasant in the summer.
 

mdchachi

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I have to say, for me, I'm very happy about no daylight savings time! I call it daylight destroying time. I personally think it should be the other way around. It already gets darker in the winter earlier so why do we make it get dark even earlier? If it were the other way around it would get dark at 7 (which is still earlier than summer) rather than 5.
It sounds like you don't understand daylight savings time. The normal/standard time is the winter time. So it doesn't get darker earlier in the winter. It may feel that way when we switch back in the fall. But, again, the switch in the fall is back to standard time.
 

Kinetic11

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It still doesn't make sense to do it at that time. Still seems backwards to me. It would be more balanced the other way around.
 

mdchachi

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It still doesn't make sense to do it at that time. Still seems backwards to me. It would be more balanced the other way around.
I hear you. Why not just keep it that way all year round?
 
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