I have written a lot about the things I like about Japan. I am often asked if there is anything I dislike. Yes, there are actually a few things I find annoying about Japan.
1- No helping a stranger culture
This is probably the thing I find most hard to understand. Japanese people are the most courteous and polite people on earth, but why don’t they (especially men!) hold doors open for others? Or when they see someone carrying a heavy suitcase or a stroller up a flight a stairs, why not offer a helping hand?
As far as I know, the reason is because they are shy about offering help to strangers. It is the initiation and confrontation that they are not comfortable about.
I can’t remember how many times I have had doors slammed on me even when I am walking right behind someone. They seem equally uncomfortable when I hold the door for them.
2) No trash cans in the streets
They took trash cans off the streets due to anti-terrorism measures 20 years ago. You would think people will litter on the ground but it is spotless. If they have garbage, they carry it in their bag until they find a trash bin at a train station, a business establishment or a convenient store. Sometimes they end up carrying it around all day and back home.
It is annoying though, when you have something you want to toss away but you can’t find a trash can anywhere!
3) Smoking allowed in restaurants
It is great that smoking in the streets is prohibited in Japan. I certainly do not want to walk behind someone that is smoking. However, it is still allowed in most restaurants. You can still smell smoke even if you are sitting in the non-smoking area. I feel bad for the children especially.
4) Strictly obeys the traffic lights
I know this is a very good thing and I respect the Japanese people for obeying the rules. Nobody crosses the street if the lights are red.
But when it is past midnight and there are cars nowhere to be seen on a one- way street, I would like to just go for it. Please don’t stare at me like I have done something bad…I promise I will not do it in the daytime.
5) Admiration for western culture
Japanese people love all things western – clothing, food, people, languages.
One experience I will never forget is when I got turned down for a job because I was not foreign looking enough. I spoke to the manager over the phone the day before and he seemed very happy to meet me. He was shocked when he finally met me. He stared at me for a while, not knowing what to say, as if there is some misunderstanding. The part I didn’t understand was he could have interviewed me and turned me down with another reason. But he was so honest. Right there and then, he apologized as politely as he can that I didn’t look “American” enough for the job position – meaning I don’t have blue eyes and blond hair. I was very upset and offended, but I felt bad for him at the same time, as he was probably in a more difficult position than I was. What if this situation happened in the U.S.?
I will stop here before this post turns into something else. I have had many similar experiences while living in Japan, but I will save them for next time….
So, these are some things I don’t like about Japan. I am curious what others not like about the land of the rising sun.