Sunday, October 14, 2018

JAPAN—The Land of Convenience

With convenience stores spread across every corner, reliable public transport system to travel anywhere anytime, the customer service and hospitality deeply rooted in their culture, or just not having to deal with toilet anxiety, this country is already living in the future we could only dream for our children and grandchildren.

Yes, I am talking about JAPANthe land of convenience.

With less than a couple of months to return home, I started pondering on why Japan is the most convenient and liveable country in the world. So where do I begin? No matter where you live, nearly anything you want is within your reach at any time. Zero-waste society that is so well organized and its people so well-disciplined, Japan has taken convenience to a whole new level and here’s how…

1. Convenience Store

Convenience stores in Japan: Most commonly, 7-Eleven, Lawson, and Family Mart sell just about everything you want and are open 24hours.
7-Eleven Convenience Store
Just ran out of cash or need to print something urgently at odd hours? No worries! Convenience stores will be at your service 24 hours. Starting from ready-made lunch box to any drinks (hot or cold), paying your utility bills to reserving tickets for any events/concerts,
printing your photos to photo-copying documents can be done at convenience stores.

2. Public Transport System

No matter where you’re traveling, near or far, Japanese transport system provides you the most
comfortable, reliable and safest service. Bullet Train, known as Shinkansen in Japan, it can travel around 300 Km per hour. You must have heard this phrase over and again, “Japanese are very punctual.” Yes you have heard it right!
People waiting for a train
Punctuality is not just restricted to people. Buses and trains are never late. In case of delay due to unavoidable circumstances like bad weather, lateness certificate will be provided to show to your company so your salary doesn’t get deducted. On taking a public transport, always pay attention to the reserved seats for priority commuters. You don’t want to embarrass yourself by taking wrong seats. Be it in rush hours or holidays when train stations and bus stops are crowded, there is never a hustle. It is very important for Japanese to wait in line. You just don’t get in front of others waiting in line.

3. Toilets

Is using public toilets your worst nightmare?

To ensure the utmost comfort for all travellers, toilet issue is well taken care in Japan. Super-duper clean public toilets are lavishly available anywhere you go: supermarkets, department stores, parks, train stations, and any public places.
Some wonderful features of Japanese toilets
Cleaner than your room, Japanese toilets will give you luxury experience with some very cool features. For instance, they have heated seat to beat winter cold, sensory detection for flushing, front/back cleanse (water spray that cleans your bottom), air dyer and many more. One of my Japanese friends just came back from her vacation to Canada. She was telling me how she realized she has taken abundance of toilets in Japan for granted because accessing toilet is next to impossible there.

4. ¥100 Shop

You must be aware that Japan is one of the most expensive countries in the world. But you can still make a wonderful living out of it. If you are traveling to Japan on budget or want to be a short term residents, ¥100 shops will come to your rescue.
Household items sold in ¥100 shops
They sell almost everything and they are everywhere. Daily necessities, household products, stationeries, any DIY materials, kitchen utensils, room decor materials, beauty products, gardening tools, and souvenirs can be purchased for only
¥100. Even though it cost just ¥100 ($1) there is no compromise in the quality. You can spot exactly the same product sold in ¥100 shops in other stores for higher prices. So make sure to check out some ¥100 shops before you start shopping. Some popular ¥100 shops are DAISO and Seria.

5. Vending Machine

I bet you won’t die of thirst in Japan. Even if you’re lost, you are still bound to find vending machine somewhere, in every block you pass. Because of the high labor charge, vending machines, as I have read somewhere, are installed to eliminate the need of sales clerks thereby reducing the labor cost. Varieties of hot and cold drinks are available.
Varities of drinks
Some vending machines sell fruits, cigarette and condoms. Both coins and paper money can be used in vending machines. Looking at how vulnerable it is to be stolen or broken down, it amazes me how crime rates are relatively low in Japan. Japanese culture is strictly against theft. Believe it or not, I was surprised to find my purse after I forgot it overnight in my bicycle basket outside. Can you expect this to happen in your country? This is my second year in Japan and I haven’t seen any youth under substance abuse or alcohol loitering around neighbourhood. If you find some, they are usually part-time workers going home after their shift or students after their late night studies.

6. Elementary Schools

Are you planning to move to Japan with your children? Then, consider sending your children to Japanese Elementary School. Elementary schools are suited not too far from one another. Therefore, no Japanese kids are dropped or picked from school in car by parents.
1st graders walking to school
Rain or shine, kids as young as 6, walk or if needed take public transport by themselves to school. Another reason they do this is because they’re guaranteed safety. Japan is absolutely safe and at the same time children are mindful. At school, children learn beyond what is in the book but most important of all, good manners. I bet Japan has one the best education systems in the world.
In order to help you raise your child, the government provides financial aid to families with children. Every child in Japan is entitled a monthly Child Allowance until the third year of Junior High School (15 years). Children below 3 years receive ¥15,000/month and ¥10,000 after that. Child Support Allowance is provided to children being raised by single parent and children with special needs. These allowances are provided in order to ensure welbeing of  both mother and a child. It is also to address Japan’s declining population. Even companies and organizations offer various benefits to families with children. The good news is even foreign residents are eligible for these grants as long as you are registered as a resident in Japan. So these grants will make raising your child more affordable than you think. My Mongolian friend who’s raising a year old boy says this allowance is more than enough for her child’s monthly expenses.

7. Coin Laundry

Minimalism is seen prominent in Japan especially in a private apartment where you find very little space to no space for any extra possession. Can’t fit in washing machine in your minimalist apartment? Then coin laundry comes in handy at reasonable price. Usually ¥100 coins are used to operate the machine but there is usually a change machine nearby if you are in short of coins. According to the amount of laundry you have, choose the right size machine. You can have a lot of laundry cleaned for just ¥300 to ¥500.
Coin laundry
You just have to put your laundry in machine, insert coins and close the lid. While you wait for it to finish, go grab a drink from vending machine nearby. You can choose to dry your clothes instantly using dryer or take home and air dry it. You need to change the machine for the dryer and some extra coins.

I could go on with the list but there are way too many things to fit here. The above mentioned 7 are just some of the many reasons that make Japan the most convenient country in the world. But after all that’s been said and done, living in Japan can be challenging if you don’t speak Japanese because language barrier gets in the way of taking advantage of these conveniences. So make sure you get a grasp of some basic Japanese before you plan your trip to Japan.

Of all the incredible things in Japan, convenience is the king. I have seen the future and it’s in Japan. Plan yout trip to experience the best that Japan has to offer.  

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