5 most awesome things of living in Japan

I’ve already written about the 5 most difficult things of living in Japan, so it is time to level that with the best aspects of living in Japan. Save the best for last!

5. Convenience

It is true, I wrote in my previous post that processes are not always efficient, but still there are a lot of things that are very convenient around here. To begin with the convenience stores at almost every corner and open most of the time. You can buy the best ‘konbini’ food in the world, find an ATM,  pay your bills, buy your event tickets and so on. It always has a toilet.

As a matter of fact you find clean toilets everywhere in this country. In every toilet there’s a hook to hang your stuff. Next to every clinic there’s a pharmacy. Japan has the largest number of vending machines per capita. Not that I think that is necessary but they sure are convenient. Our toilet flushes itself, the cooking stove automatically turns off when my food is about to burn (I really don’t know how that works, but I think it is genious!).
There are remote panels everywhere in the house: to dim the lights, to change their colour, for the airconditioning, the floor heating,… My favourite one is the button to automatically fill the bath tub from the living room 🙂

4. Public Transport

Patiently queing for the bus!

Talking about convenience… Japan loves its trains and they are awesome. They are incredibly accurate, fast, safe and clean. And quiet (did you know it’s not allowed to talk on the phone?!). We are not always convinced travelling by car is the better option, since the trains are so good and the highway toll and car parking is so expensive. Tourists are very lucky to be able to buy a Japan Rail Pass that offers a huge deal on train tickets.

Do you remember that time when a Japanese company apologised after a train departed 20 seconds early? Yes, that is right. SECONDS.

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Robot teaching


"Nao" humanoid robot, that offers basic service information, moves at MUFG branch in Tokyo

Japan wouldn’t be Japan if it was not exploring the use of robots in education. There are 30 schools in Japan experimenting with robots in English class to improve communication and pronunciation. It is part of the government’s aim to raise the (poor) knowledge of English. It will become a formal subject in elementary school from 2020 onwards. Apparantly the language skills of the elementary school teachers are also poor and the lack of funding to hire English native speakers in schools is ‘solved’ by introducing English-speaking robots as a cheaper and easier option.

Children involved in the pilot projects say it is more comfortable speaking to a robot than to a person. The developers state that robots can supplement teachers as conversation partners. This is one way of looking at the project. The comments on the newspaper article were mostly negative. Readers say that interactive skills of children are already poor (they prefer spending time on computer and games or reading manga) and the skills definitely won’t be enhanced by using robots. It woulf be better to  interact with humans or foreigners instead of with a piece of plastic.

So the question rises: is this indeed a step foward or, on the contrary, a step backwards?