The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Matcha, Manga, Miscellaneous

A study abroad trip has brought me to Japan for the totality of the spring semester, which (in Japan) starts in April and ends in July. I’ve been here for about three weeks now, visiting family, exploring my new neighborhood, and otherwise reveling in this free time I have until the semester begins.

To give you an unconventional taste of daily life in Japan, I thought I would put together a list of things I have noticed during my three weeks here so far. After all, the little things can often make the biggest difference.

  • Weak coffee is called American Coffee
One of my best coffee experiences was not in a coffee shop, but at a drive-in. We have hot coffee machines in the US, but perhaps not like these. They not only have amazing options and grind your coffee fresh for you, but also show you the process via live coverage.
Image via Ikeriri☆networkservice

Coffee is generally served strong here–but if you want a weaker cup, order it “American Style.” Though coffee has more kick, cafes always supply you with plenty of cream and syrup. Yes, liquid sugar, which mixes much better in beverages than the granulated sugar we have to deal with in the states.

  • Changing rooms:

After waiting about ten minutes in line to get into a changing room at a GU clothing store, I had the most incredible changing room experience, which I will describe in chronological succession.

They offer face masks (which look like nets) that you can put over your face to protect your skin when trying on sweaters.

Example of a changing room Image via ryuutsuu news

 You are supposed to take off your shoes outside the room, in concern for the hygiene of your socks. And if that weren’t enough, the attendant, stopping me before I could hop in, quickly mopped the room floor with a Swiffer.

Because you have to take off your shoes, a shoe horn hangs outside your stall to help you put them back on.

If you kicked off your footwear in a disorderly fashion, the attendants may rearrange your shoes so that they are ready for you to quickly slip back on. I’ve never felt so taken care of???

  • Bathrooms (thought you would never have a pleasant experience in the washroom? Think again.)
The all-mighty toilet panel
Image via Newscult

Japanese toilets are a masterpiece. Advanced ones (which you’ll encounter in many places in Tokyo) offer at least the following amenities:

Warmed seats

An odor suction button

A button that plays music for when you need white noise

A bidet button (bidets apparently are a thing in many countries)

And at least two different flushing options. It kind of feels like sitting on a captain’s chair in a spaceship.

  • You will never not have a place to put your umbrella

Almost all stores have an umbrella stand, or tall plastic bags so you can carry your umbrella around drip-free. Banks even have a small, yellow notch for you to rid of umbrella-related stress while making your transactions.

  • Gas Stations

If you have an attendant fill your gas for you, they not only fill your tank and wipe your windows, but they also hand you a cloth to wipe the inside of your car and ask if you have any trash, so they can dump it for you.

Your car is fueled and cleaned, sometimes by teams of three
Image via Japan Experience

It’s only been three weeks and I already feel spoiled.

On a different note: the featured image of this post is from a very cool photo series called “Takashi Kitajima’s view of Tokyo Through a Magnifying Glass“–check it out!