No matter how many books and travel blogs you read about Japan, visit the country for the first time and the first thing that will take you by surprise is how incredibly calm and quiet the Japanese people appear to be. Everyday life in Japan is like nothing you will have ever experienced before. Ever. The way they eat, bathe, their train etiquette; everything is calm and marvellous.
After spending three weeks backpacking around Japan as a family we witnessed many reasons why, this country, with a population of over 127 million could sometimes resemble life on a desert island, causing the Japanese people to be chilled out and relaxed but still incredibly efficient.
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Everyday Life in Japan. 10 Habits That Make Japanese People Super Chilled.
1: The 7 Eleven.
Thinking about what to eat in Japan isn’t a problem but sometimes it’s nice to step away from the norm.
Japan has a 7- eleven store on almost every railway station and most street corners. These are the saviour of all saviours when you are about to take a long train journey and can’t face eating any more noodles you can easily set yourself up with a three-course packed lunch for under $10. Now that’s a reason to smile.
Karaoke, meaning ’empty orchestra’ was invented in Japan in the 1970’s and plays a big part in everyday life in Japan. The Japanese people love their Karaoke, and take it very seriously, so much so that they have huge complexes dedicated to the Karaoke phenomena.
Designed like a fancy hotel, the receptionist takes your money, gives you the key to one of the many soundproofed rooms and you trot off inside and sing your little heart out for two or three hours.
Businessmen and women take their clients to Karaoke complexes – often singing with them before clinching a deal, whereas Japanese students use karaoke as a way to socialise.
Karaoke is incredibly therapeutic and after taking part for an afternoon, my family and I concluded that this was a winning factor in making the Japanese people calm and relaxed. Releasing endorphins and using the smiling muscle while singing for two hours makes everyone very happy. Superb invention Japan!
3: The Toilets.
Daily life in Japan is made so very special by the fact that this country – without a doubt – has the best public conveniences in the world.
The Japanese toilets are like something out of StarTrek. At the press of a button, you will find immaculately clean seats, tinkly bum washes, and calming background sounds intended to make your moments on the lavvy as relaxing as possible. There is never a queue, which is surprising, if I lived in Japan I’d never come out.
4: Meal Times.
The Japanese eat little and often. Unlike Westerners who go large on whatever they can and then try their hardest to finish every last morsel on their plate in case there is a famine between lunchtime and dinner.
The Japanese people only order what they plan to eat. They take their time, delicately consuming slithers of grilled meat along with a plate of perfectly cooked green beans.
When they are finished eating they order more, but only a little more mind you. Again, they take their time and eat what is in front of them – slowly and mindfully. As so it goes on. They eat, they are still hungry, they order more. Until they are satisfied. An everyday part of life in Japan that perhaps the rest of the world could do with adopting.
5: Japan Train Etiquette. Rules That People Obey.
The Japanese people always appear to be busy. They move about the streets and railway stations like those little wind-up dinkey cars with new batteries.
But they do so in silence. Calmly.
No pushing, shoving and elbowing people in the ribs in Japan thank you very much. No. Everyone understands the rules and abides by them.
Life in Japan is orderly. Where you find a mass of people, you will find rules.
Japan train etiquette is something to be marvelled at. Thickly painted yellow lines on railway platforms that you must stand behind. Allocated waiting bays for the carriage that matches with your ticket. Seats on the train that are reserved for the elderly or infirm. Stairs in the railway station or in airports with arrows indicating that you go up on the left and descend on the right.
And guess what? Nobody breaks these rules, causing nobody to become anxious and cheated. Easy peasy Japan. Make the rules and stick to them. Perfect idea.
6: The Onsen.
The Onsen is part of everyday life in Japan. We all know the benefits of relaxing our weary bones for a few minutes in warm, soothing water, the Japanese people indulge in this cleansing ritual every day before dinner or bedtime. One more winning relaxation practice to the Japanese, plus, they always smell nice when they sit next to you on the train.
Sake isn’t my favourite wine I’ll admit, and that’s saying something because I love anything with wine in the title, but it is cheap and robust. I would imagine just a little sip of this Japanese nectar after a day at the office would be just enough to take the edge off and leave you feeling calm and relaxed.
8: No Litter. Anywhere.
The streets of Japan are immaculate. No litter, anywhere. Surprising, as one of the first things tourists will notice is the lack of rubbish bins on the street.
No littering is a big part of everyday culture in Japan and the Japanese are not in the habit of eating food on the go – which helps. If a Japanese person buys their lunch from a vending machine or a convenience store, they tend to stand still and eat it. You will always find rubbish bins nearby to vending machines and it is not uncommon in Japan to give your waste packaging back to the store that you bought it from.
Everywhere you look, railway stations, supermarkets, airports, you will witness someone with a hoover or a brush having a good clean up. Nobody likes to wade through crisp packets and crumpled up coke cans on their way to work, and the Japanese don’t. Another reason why walking the streets of Japan is stress-free.
9: The Cherry Blossom.
Is there anything more beautiful than the sight of a cherry tree weighed down with baby pink blossom? The arrival of the Sakura in Japan is something of a yearly celebration. Known as a hanami party, the Japanese people get together with friends and family and celebrate under the beautiful trees with good food and drinks. We all like a party. Especially one with lots of pink confetti and knowing that they have this celebration every year must make life for the people of Japan very exciting.
10: The 100 yen store.
The 100 Yen store is the Japanese equivalent to the dollar store. The same but very different.
Go into any dollar shop in America, and you will find lots of cheap plastic water pistols, some Christmas decorations that look crap and a wall full of sunhats and dog leashes and fidget spinners. The Japanese version of the store is at the opposite end of the spectrum.
In the 100 Yen shop, you will find high-quality, useful items including kitchen essentials, special pegs to keep your clothes neatly folded, beautifully scented candles and slippers for the house. In fact, anything that will make life easier can be found in these fabulous stores. The price is, well, no more than 100 yen and the quality and choice is top notch. Now that would make me happy.
So there you have it. The list of ten habits that the Japanese practice on a regular basis, things that make everyday life in Japan a little less stress-free and calm. I don’t know about you, but I think we could all do with a few pink blossom parties in our life! What do you think?