There are many articles about the broader reasons people enjoy living in Japan, but I feel that the topic is a little overdone. Rather than going on about how amazing the food is, or how easy it is to travel domestically, I thought I could introduce some of the little things that I really appreciate about living in Japan for 7 years.
It’s the little things that count: Small things I noticed that are actually AWESOME about living in Japan.
Why introduce the small things? Because these are the things that will actually affect your life in the long term from day to day. These aren’t the things you will notice on day 1, but they are probably the things you will notice after year 1. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Reason to Live in Japan #1: No tips, eating out is WAY cheaper than in most developed countries, and prices are very predictable.
The pricing around meals in Japan is easy to understand, a general standard exists, and things usually end up being WAY cheaper than way you would see in your average western restaurant. There is a culture of “Tabehoudai” (食べ放題) in Japan, as well as “nomihoudai” (飲み放題). Tabehoudai is “All you can eat.”, and nomihoudai means “All you can drink.” There is also “Tabenomihoudai”, which you may have guessed means that you get both all you can eat, and all you can drink. A normal price for the all you can eat tabehoudai option is typically around ￥3000 yen or $30, and service lasts for around 2 hours. That means for a FULL all you can eat meal in Japan, you can except to spend around ￥3000 ($30), and this price usually includes tax as well! (I’ll cover this point more later.)
Even still, I can’t recall any time I’ve ever had a bad meal in Japan. Food here is GOOD. You can get an amazing healthy lunch for around ￥1000 or $10 USD, and a reasonable dinner (without all you can eat service) for around ￥2000. There is a strict standard for pricing here, and so it’s very rare to ever go out to a restaurant and get shocked by the bill. With so many options to choose from opened-up (because it’s rare for most restaurants in Japan to go over this pricing threshold), The peace of mind of being able to choose whatever looks good without having to account for calculating and tipping takes a lot of the stress out of choosing where to eat, and makes splitting the bill super simple as well! It’s one of the things that I like the most about living in Japan. The food in Japan is AWESOME, and that includes the experience of paying the bill.
Reason to Live in Japan #2: I love Japan’s ichijikai / nijikai culture, and the lack of cliques in Japan
I’ve gone over this topic a bit before. You can read about the concept of ichijikai and nijikai at this article here, so I won’t go over it in too much detail. To summarize really quickly, ichijikai and nijikai are the flow of how people hang out with each other when eating out in Japan. The ichijikai is the first place you go (almost always a restaurant, and more often than not an izakaya), and the nijikai is the activity you choose to afterwards when some people have gone home. Often times for a nijikai people will visit a cafe together, or go to karaoke. In fact, this cultural dynamic is one of the main reasons why karaoke is popular in Japan. It’s a business model that really only makes sense within the context of Japan, to be honest.
The thing that I really love about this, is that people will make an effort to choose an option that caters to everybody in the group for the first ichijikai destination. So, after having amazing food together, THEN you can decide to go to some more niche thing depending on who is left in the group, and what people want to do. I like this dynamic, first because I love amazing food, and eating amazing food is always a great way to get to know people. Second, because it allows you to become friends with people you wouldn’t normally be friends with. In Japan, everyone is expected to be friends. As someone who moved to Japan almost right after graduating from American high school, it was refreshing to experience social dynamics that didn’t revolve entirely around cliques.
Reason to Live in Japan #3: Everything in Japan has some community aspect tied to it.
Somewhat related to reason #2, another thing I love about Japan is how practically anything can be enjoyed outside of your home or apartment. This is somewhat of a by-product of Japan’s small living spaces, but I personally like how I can enjoy some of my favorite hobbies like music or games outside the house because of the sheer number of community spaces in Japan’s big cities, and especially in Tokyo. If you’re somebody who enjoys meeting new people who share the same interests, or have a go-with-the-flow kind of attitude, Japan’s city infrastructure really allows for you to experience just about anything you could want to do when out and about. This goes for travel as well, since there is a practically never ending supply of cool places to explore solo or with friends. Hey, you can make friends when you get there too!
Reason to Live in Japan #4: The internet is fast. REALLY fast!
This is something more directed at my US friends, but I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been playing games with some of my US friends online, and I HAVE A BETTER CONNECTION from Tokyo than they do to the US servers! Japan has some really amazing internet, maybe second to South Korea in terms of internet speed. Granted, you need to be located near an area that has enough people to warrant optical fiber high speed service, but most places in Japan’s bigger cities should have you covered. So, just how fast are we talking about? This was the result from an internet speed test (I’m using AU hikari.) I think the price is pretty reasonable too. I pay ￥6600 a month (around $60 USD) for this service, which is worth ever penny (yenny?)
There are many reasons why you should consider moving to Japan, and many reasons that are better than this , but these are some of the more mundane the reasons you won’t see on EVERY site relating to Japan.
In conclusion: Japan’s unique social dynamics and infrastructure leads to some really fun opportunities to meet people in amazingly fun ways. In addition, Japan’s cheap food and reliable pricing let’s people really relax and enjoy the experience of hanging out outside the home and eating out, while this reliable and cheap pricing allows for more options when choosing what to do and where to eat. Finally, the internet is AWESOME, so it’s easy to keep in touch with friends and family abroad, provided your area has access to good hikari fiber optic service.
If you are thinking of moving to Japan
Why not check out one of these articles below? I have been living in Japan since early 2015 as a language school student, then a University student, employee, and translator / consultant. I hope you will enjoy reading about my experiences!