There is no country in the world like Japan to make you feel like whatever country you’re visiting from is a dump. Some of these amazing Japanese technologies and customs have been around for years, but they have yet to become popular in the western world. Why? The convenience in Japan is absolutely staggering and the rest of the world needs to adopt some of these things to catch up.
It’s a little intimidating at first, but the toilets in Japan make you feel like the way you’ve always used the bathroom is absolutely disgusting. Japanese toilets have like 50 different functions including a bidet, a dryer, a deodorizer, and ambient sounds to choose from if you’re shy. I know what you’re thinking, a bidet is not unique to Japan. But one that washes and dries your ass is. It’s like taking a hands-free shower every time you use the bathroom.
Japan is outrageously easy to get around on public transportation, but trains are often crowded and carrying a lot of stuff on many different forms of transport is a hassle. Which is why Japan has hotel-to-hotel and airport-to-hotel luggage forwarding. It’s the easiest thing in the world and it’s not even that expensive. Our two larger bags cost less than $40 to send from one hotel to another, and the hotel arranges everything for you. You just need to drop it off. What the fuck am I bouncing around rolling luggage down the narrow streets of Spain for?
Free public restrooms
I’ve defended paid restrooms in Europe for far too long. Bathrooms don’t have to collect a euro from every visitor to be kept clean. Japan has free bathrooms, and they are spotless, and they are everywhere – in train stations, near popular nightlife areas, in shopping malls, in the middle of the street. You never have to struggle to find a restroom in Japan, and it puts the rest of the world to shame.
Respectful public transport queuing
In most of the rest of the world, people wait for public transportation in a kind of randomized mob, and sometimes the person who came last ends up being in the best possible position to board first. This can lead to pushing, frustration, and inconvenience. In Japan, on the other hand, people queue in an orderly fashion for everything. All train stations have clear markings on the floor denoting where the doors will open and where people should stand in a line. The first people waiting get first dibs on the train or subway or bus every time.
Efficient restaurant queuing
Eating at popular places in Japan can be a bit of an effort. During peak lunch and dinner hours, it’s not uncommon for lines to form outside the best restaurants. And while that sounds like a San Francisco-esque hell, the process is so efficient that the line moves super quick. That’s because restaurant staff take your order while you’re waiting. So as soon as they have a seat for you, your meal is ready.
Bathtubs in Japan are modeled after the traditional ofuro, which is slightly narrower than regular bathtubs but much deeper. That means when you’re sitting in the tub, the water goes up to your neck. When you’ve used a tub like this, you wonder why you’ve ever enjoyed taking a bath outside of Japan with your chest and shoulders completely out of the water.
Bathroom mirrors that don’t fog up
After a luxurious soak in a Japanese bath, you emerge to an unfogged mirror. I assume that there is a heating element behind the glass to keep your mirror fog-free. A brilliant albeit minor convenience that allows you to complete your bath routine without having to ventilate the room or wipe the mirror off with your hand.
The technology that contains unpleasant smells
One of the more magical things about visiting Japan is that you realize that unpleasant smells are completely eradicated. I’m not talking about some flowery scent that covers up bad smells. I mean the smell ceases to exist. I feel like if I lived in Japan, I would forget what shit smells like. This technology is used to deodorize toilets and is also evidently part of what keeps the nasty smell of smoke from escaping the confines of otherwise completely open smoking areas.
Ubiquitous vending machines
Like bathrooms, Japan has vending machines all over the place. From train stations to tiny streets in the mountains, there is always a place to get yourself a cold beverage or a snack. The convenience is impossible to overstate.
Sometimes you don’t want to cook but you also don’t want the whole song and dance of eating in a restaurant, particularly if you’re alone. Japan has a solution for this. These restaurants allow you to place your order and pay for your meal via a machine. Then you take a seat at a private counter and someone in the kitchen takes your ticket and brings you your meal to your table through a window that remains closed the rest of the time. You eat and drink in absolute peace and solutide, and then you leave when you’re done.
I know the United States barely has regular trains, but I feel like Europe already has enough infrastructure to put a few of these 200 mph monsters into service. Aren’t we trying to reduce our reliance on air travel? Let’s replace air travel with high-speed bullet trains!
Japan is eating the rest of the world up when it comes to everyday convenience. I think it’s about time we catch up!