Japan, Japan, Japan. I really enjoyed my time in Japan; it really was (and is!) a lovely country, but, of course, there are a few things that can get on your nerves just like anywhere else. I wanted to give you all some tips about traveling in Japan!
So, starting with Osaka, If you’re into anime or manga whatsoever, Den Den Town is full of shops to fit your fancy; there’s also an interesting (perhaps country-wide?) caveat of having the top floor of stores, especially manga bookstores, being for ecchi or hentai doujinshi. One notable store like this is K-BOOKS, easily found in the northern part of Den Den Town.
You can find world-to-Japan converters, adapters, and laptop transformers (that thick thing that’s on laptop cords and changes the voltage across countries properly so your laptop doesn’t short out) in large (and some small) electronic stores, such as Yamada Denki in the Namba station mall and on the back shelf in the shop called Den Den Town located in, well, Den Den Town.
Money comes in a few denominations: ¥1, ¥5, ¥10, ¥50, ¥100, and ¥500 coins, and ¥1,000, ¥2,000, ¥5,000, and ¥10,000 bills. The coins are honestly quite a large hassle. I went to the grocery store and bought ¥2,300 worth of groceries…and paid for it entirely with ¥500 and ¥100 coins! This is annoying because there’s so much money contained in such a heavy and inconvenient currency as coins. Though I wasn’t a big fan of Korea, it definitely didn’t have this problem. Also, most Japanese stores do include the tax in the prices they show (unlike the US), but they also show the untaxed price just above that.
Unlike in Korea, pornography is legal in Japan, and the government doesn’t try too hard to stop its citizens from acquiring/viewing it. This is quite a good thing, as suppressing the populace only leads to repression that itself leads to a general societal frustration. However, there’s of course a bit of another side, and I can see why some girlfriends would be a bit worried about their boyfriends being disinterested in them here in Japan: waifu material to drool over and cover one’s walls with is quite easy to find.
The Japanese are incredibly orderly, and could possibly win a competition of who stands in line most often to get on the subway instead of pushing and shoving (very different from Korea). There is also a rule in Osaka that, if you’re on an escalator, you stand on the right, and walk on the left (much like in England), which is common in big cities. However, this is reversed in Tokyo, and you walk on the right side!
If you want to grab some foreign food, I recommend going to La Cave de Yamaya in the Osaka City Air Terminal (OCAT) building just west of the Namba subway station; here, I found hard taco shells (yes!), pickles (gherkins), olives, pasta sauce, Pringles, Quaker oatmeal, and other various foreign foods. The selection isn’t huge, but I was definitely happy about what I did find. There’s a bit pricier of a place on the basement second floor of the Yodobashi Camera, as well as the basement second floor of the Daimaru (the 13th floor of this building is a medium-sized Pokemon Center!), but I wasn’t as big a fan of these because they were expensive. The other import store I like (which also has taco shells!) is on the second floor of the humongous Osaka Station City train station, just a wee bit southwest of the also-gigantic Umeda subway station.
Unfortunately, when you go to any of these stores – as well as any other stores in Japan – you get a ridiculous amount of plastic wrapping and packaging with your purchase. The plastic is usually pretty strong too, and definitely not as easily ripped as US or European plastic, so it’s not rare for you to need scissors to open things. One time at a bakery, three items I bought were put into three separate plastic bags, then put into a bigger bag, and then taped (because the Japanese need to tape their bags, for nicety’s sake or something). Combine this with the Asian lack of public trash cans, and it often means that after buying something, you have to carry around the plastic leftovers for awhile, sometimes at least an hour if you’re not near your house.
Fortunately, however, the Japanese are very nice, especially when it comes to customer service. They’re also endlessly talkative, though, and will basically narrate every action they’re doing when scanning your groceries or ringing up an order. This is largely a good thing compared to my time in Korea, however, as I haven’t seen a single person here look at me with dead-bored eyes while serving me. I do have to say, though, that the subways announcing each stop sometimes three times gets quite a bit grating.
The food portion sizes in Japan are very disappointing, especially for their price, and most fancy dishes are just bowls of rice with only a small portion of what you actually wanted (meat, etc.) on top. If you’re a big eater like some of my friends, Japan will likely be fairly expensive for you, and nearly anytime you eat out, you’ll get a ridiculous amount of rice, whether you want it or not! The expense of tiny portions of food is likely my biggest pet peeve with Japan.
One thing that’s annoying is that Japan seems to have a lot of solicitors. If you rent a place or have an Airbnb here in Japan and you don’t think you know the person knocking, just ignore them; it’s probably a solicitor, or someone coming to ask the owner of the place to pay for their television channels. Let the landlord know and have them handle it. 🙂
Here are some of the phrases heard quite often on the Tokyo subway, as well as others around Japan.
Mamonaku (station name). Yamanote sen, Asakusa sen o norikae desu. = This station is (station name). You can transfer to the Yamanote and Asakusa lines here. (lit. “Soon (station name). Yamanote line, Asakusa line transfer is.”)
Tsugi wa (station name). = Next is (station name).
Ichi ban sen doa ga shimarimasu. Tsugi no densha o go riyo (?) kudasai. = The line 1 doors are closing. Please use the next train.
Gochuui kudasai. = Please watch out.
Ashimoto ni gochuui kudasai. = Please watch your step.
Abunai desu kara, kiiroi sen made o(?)imasu. = For your safety, stay behind the yellow line. (lit. “Dangerous is thus, yellow line behind stay.”)
Mamonaku ichi ban sen mairimasu. Gochuui kudasai. = Line 1 is arriving. Please watch out.