Asia

10 Items & Ideas We Need to Borrow From Japan

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Japan is truly a nation of efficiency, practicality and innovation, from incredible technologies to elaborate snacks. After leaving Japan, there were some particular items and ideas that we wished we could bring back home to America. I guess we’ll just have to plan another trip to experience them all again!

1) Idea: Wearing bacterial face masks

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When you arrive, you might notice that many people walk around the streets and ride the subway wearing a face mask.

Japan takes illness prevention very seriously! Stopping the spread of cold and flu is one of the main reasons Japanese people wear these masks. It is considered courteous to wear a mask if you are ill, thus limiting the chance of spreading your germs to others. We wish everyone in America showed the same level of care!

Stopping germs is not the only reason these masks are so popular, however. Japan has a powerful allergy season and masks can reduce the impact of pollen on your system. And, over the years, the masks have begun to evolve into a fashion statement. You’ll certainly see plenty of plain white masks, but you’ll also observe younger Japanese wearing bright masks with fun designs.

You can wait until your arrive to pick up your mask, or you can prepare for your trip by bringing masks with you! We like these and these.

2) Idea: Standing sushi bars

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This is a quick and fun way to enjoy world class cuisine!

Check out our article here to read more about Uogashi Nihonichi, our favorite standing sushi choice.

3) Item: Fancy Toilets

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When we first entered the bathroom of our hotel, we were excited and then intimidated by the technologically advanced machine sitting in front of us. A plethora of buttons signaled the toilet’s potential, and we had to look carefully to determine which button would create which effect! From seat-warming capabilities to a built-in bidet, our toilet had it all.

We wish that these sophisticated thrones were available in America!


4) Idea: Stacked parking structures with car elevators

Now this is a neat one…

While walking one evening, we stumbled across a parking structure where cars were being transported upwards by a machine similar to elevator. However, unlike an elevator it moved the car up AND over AND inserted it into a spot in the six story structure. The owner of the car (who was watching from the ground) then took a ticket with a number he could use to retrieve his vehicle.

Imagine not having to drive endlessly around a parking structure looking for a spot! And imagine never having to worry about forgetting where you parked. America, let’s start building these!

5) Idea: No smoking on the streets

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It’s never fun to walk through a cloud of someone else’s cigarette smoke, but it happens all the time on American streets.

In Japan, you won’t have that problem. Instead, you’ll see signs on the streets asking people not to smoke. And people typically listen and respect those signs!

If you do smoke, there are designated smoking areas, often near train stations. Pubs also typically allow smoking.   

6) Idea: No tipping

The custom of tipping does add a complication at the end of your meal. In Japan, there is no need to worry about how much to tip and no need to do math to determine the correct percentage. Instead, the cost of service is embedded in the meal’s price.

7) Idea: Bowing instead of handshakes

When you greet or say farewell to anyone in Japan, it is considered important to bow. Think of the bow as an action that serves the same purpose as a handshake. And, just like the handshake, an appropriate bow varied depending on the situation. A Japanese person might do a very short bow to a clerk at the supermarket and a long low bow to a superior at work.

We are not experts on the intricacies of bowing customs. Tourists shouldn’t worry about the different types of bows– a quick bow will signal your respect and willingness to take on Japan’s code of conduct.

We loved using the bow in Japan. Especially with the language barrier, it was an easy way to signal respect and thanks to the people we interacted with. Plus, bowing provides the added benefit of illness prevention. No need to touch someone’s hand if they are sick with cold or flu!

8) Item: Age Snacks

 Age-Kakimochi is an awesome vegan treat. Basically, they are a thick cracker made from rice then deep fried until they reach a perfect crispiness. Don’t miss out while on your Japan trip, because you likely won’t be able to find this specific cracker back in the states.

If you do find these in America, please let us know where in the comments!

9) Item: Katsu everything!

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Katsu was one of our favorite dinners in Japan! The recipe is simple– chicken thighs flayed and coated in a mixture of rice wine vinegar, panko crumbs, and egg, then fried to perfection.

This is an easy dish to find in Japan, and we’d love to see it on more menus in America! Of course, you could try your own hand at preparing Japanese cuisine as a way to stay connected with your trip. Here’s one good cookbook option. 

10) Item: White strawberries

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Yes, that’s right. In Japan, you can find designer fruits like white strawberries. White strawberries are larger than a regular strawberry and sweeter too!

Now, if you want to try these, make sure to budget them in. Some varieties can sell for up the $40 USD! White strawberries are hard to grow and only a fraction of those created are actually sold.

This is a treat you are unlikely to find outside of Japan, so experience it while you can!

Have you visited Japan? What items or ideas do you wish Americans (or wherever is home to you) would adopt?   

 

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