Jan 6, 2016

10 Things I’ll Never Get About Japan (And probably don’t want to?)

10 Things I’ll Never Get About Japan (And probably don’t want to?) photo

Not much to explain here, other than that this list won’t be accompanied by the 10 Things I Love about Japan.  I wouldn’t be able to narrow it down to 10, so it’s easier to do it this way - things that, after years of being in the country, I still don’t get about Japan.

Variety TV

Studio sets that could induce epilepsy.  The same ‘hosts’ appearing everyday.. I mean every f#$king day.  A lot of shouting.  Leering cameras looking for up-skirt shots of some heavy chested ‘idol’ brought on to give their opinion about the latest situation in Syria.  Panels of, errm, experts doing their best to cry at scenes where an American claims to be able to speak to depressed dogs … I’ll say it, Japanese variety TV is almost psychotically annoying.  For me.

If it lives in the sea, let’s eat it!

I like a bit of seafood, but Japan doesn’t know when to stop.  Whales, dolphins, snail type things that look like poo when you pull them out of the shell, … stuff that wriggles when you pour soy sauce on it. A warning to all sea creatures, get the hell out of Japanese waters!

The chop sticks compliment

I think you could have been twenty years ‘in country’ and use chopsticks with all the dexterity of Bambi taking her first steps, and people over here will still say, ‘My, how you handle those chop sticks’.  I mean, it’s patronising isn’t it?!

10 Things I’ll Never Get About Japan (And probably don’t want to?) photo

August as ‘beach’ season

Aside from the fishing industry and a few sporty types, Japan turns its back on the ocean for 11 months of the year.  And then Augusts arrives, and with it, well, most of the country it seems.  That’s fine, what I don’t get is the mentality.  September 1st could be a Sunday in the high thirties, but because it’s not August, nobody goes to the beach.  Oh, and everyone leaves all their crap everywhere.

Old men

The air in Japan is thick with rules, signs, warnings, polite requests, appeals to good manners … none of which seems to apply to old Japanese men.  Well, not all of them, but enough to warrant a mention.


Brooding mavericks that stick two fingers up to oppressive authority, or insecure wrecks with mummy and daddy issues who vent their inability to climb the social ladder by doing their best to noise pollute your Sunday afternoon?


Strawberries and whipped cream, fried noodles, breaded pork .. nuff said.

Nobody sits next to me on the train

Well they do (I don’t smell that much, and my music isn’t that loud), it’s just that, often enough to suggest a pattern, locals will take up the sit-next-to-me option as a last resort.  What’s gonna happen when the Olympics rolls into town?!

10 Things I’ll Never Get About Japan (And probably don’t want to?) photo

Expensive fruit

It’s come to something when a nation is willing to accommodate an industry that passes fruit off like it were a designer handbag.  I mean, 15,000 yen for a bunch of grapes?!  Looks like it’ll have to be bananas again.  Just like yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that ….

AKB48 and the like

I can’t find a single redeeming feature about this all singing, all dancing girl group, and the circus that surrounds them.  You just know the whole thing is a cash cow for sweaty palmed, dirty old men.  And then there was this story about one of the members ritualistically shaving her head because she spent the night with a boyfriend!  One can only assume the powers that be were pissed at her for not spending the night with them.

Rant over - the things that I still don’t get about Japan.  Wow!  I feel better now!

Of course, there are much heavier things in Japan, and the rest of the world, to be getting upset about, but I wanted to keep this here 'list', light and irreverent.

I’d love to hear some of your rants about Japan, too.  Or is it just me?


Expensive fruit - LWYang Flickr License (Image cropped)

Beach - Dom Pates Flickr License (Image cropped)



Traveler, surfer, and scribe. Based in Tokyo for six years.


  • girlintokyo

    on Jan 12

    How about insanely small portions with high prices, all because they want it to seem sophisticated? At one restaurant, we ordered oysters that were 800 yen, only to see the plate contained just two - and there were three of us. I sent it back. :) And yes - sugar pop idols. I do not get it; never will. They sound like nails on a blackboard to me. To each their own, but seriously...Frank Zappa was right.

  • Tomuu

    on Jan 12

    @girlintokyo Thanks for the comment. You sent the oysters back?! Brilliant! I wish I could do that. The pop idols thing I took some flack on when I shared this post on social media. Some people said I was jealous! Maybe I am. No, that's not right. I'm not. Another thing that nearly made the list was the way that snacks/cookies etc are individually wrapped over here. I've stopped buying them now. It's a small thing, I know, but still ...

  • KpQuePasa

    on Feb 12

    Ah sitting next to me on the train! You'd swear I had the plague the way some choose to avoid me. You nailed it square on the head there! I get frustrated with the importance placed on recycling and reducing waste when I can't buy bananas, or anything else, that isn't individually wrapped in plastic (you know, bananas: a fruit that comes with a built in, biodegradable wrapper...), or the MOUNTAINS of rando flyers and advertisements that are stuffed into my mail box every day. And as a dog owner I could probably write another whole list of 10 (in fact, putting that on my scratch pad - thank you for the idea), but in particular the dog owners who will rinse the spot their dog peed with bottled water, then use a wet wipe to clean puppy nether-regions before continuing the walk.

  • Tomuu

    on Feb 13

    @KpQuePasa I forgot to mention the peeling of grapes over here. The flyers things is insane. I can't remember what it's like back home, but it's non-stop over here. I often see them doing it when I'm going into my apartment building and I imagine me taking them straight out and putting them in the bin (the flyers, that is). But then I think they're just at work and probably don't fancy dealing with my attitude. Fair enough, I suppose.