Some conveniences that make life in the big city, just that. much. better.
I thought that living in Hawaii, my life was pretty easy and laid back. I had everything I (thought I) needed for a pretty smooth, daily lifestyle. BOY WAS I WRONG! Okay, maybe it’s not a HUGE upgrade from living in Hawaii, but Japan has a way of making the everyday hectic life of living in Tokyo, just a bit easier with little things that the average Japanese citizen would probably never notice. While I on the other hand, am blown away by all of these little conveniences.
Speaking of conveniences:
Convenience stores are open 24/7 and located on every block.
You can get breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert all from a convenience store and at a good price too! Below, there is an UNCRUSTED sandwich (yes, it is sold crustless, perfect the way I like it) and a salad with dressing, all for about 400 yen which is $3.80 with this exchange rate?
Stairs have designated up and down arrows so there aren’t that many traffic jams. (although I constantly do the, move to the right, but then realize Japan is a lefty country, so I go left, but then the other person moves left, until we’re basically stepping on each other’s toes)
People stand to one side of the escalator so that people in a rush can walk up instead of stand.
There are vending machines EVERYWHERE so if you’re parched, feel free to grab a drink.
-subset of vending machines- The drinks come in regular sizes AND sizes for you to gulp down in a hurry just to rehydrate with Pocari Sweat or get a jolt of energy from coffee.
You can get a Suica or Pasmo card, which you put money onto and use for public transportation such as the subway, the JR (Japan Rail) line, busses, and even some vending machines! You’re one swipe away from exploring all of Japan and possibly, rehydration.
When ordering a drink to-go at mcdonalds, they put it in a paper bag and seal it with a sticker and then put it into another plastic bag! You can't really tell but I know these guys got drinks, they looked parched.
When it rains, a lot of shops and restaurants either have a place to put your umbrella or a plastic bag to put it in so it doesn’t drip all over the floor. I wanna know the guy who invented this, he must be under his umbrella-ella-ella made of money.
Most bathroom stalls in big buildings such as malls or department stores, are well equipped with a place to put your bags, sanitizing liquid to wipe the seat with, and rushing water sounds to mask the sound of your own rushing water. In some train stations I’ve seen a little changing area for those who need to change clothes with either a pull down like the picture below, or a raised rubber pad on the floor where you take off your shoes to stand on. I’ve also seen some toilet systems have a deodorizer to eliminate unwanted smells. An actual sensor for flushing, where you place your hand in front of it for a couple seconds and it flushes, not that shady one in America that may or may not sense you pulling up your pants. All of this in an actual bath ROOM and not a bathroom stall where you can see the feet of your neighbors.
A lot of café’s understand that the average city resident is always on the move and by them selves so they make a lot of tables for just one person, meaning you rarely ever need to take up a table of four just for yourself. This first picture below, you can see all the tables only have one chair assigned to each.
As you can see my table can only fit one person's meal and there was no seat across from me, as well as the row of tables next to me.
Now for the things I don't have proof of, but swear it's real/happened. Believe me or not, it's fine.
I went shopping and bought stuff from Uniqlo, and when I purchased small items from another shop afterwards, they offered to give me a bigger bag so I could put my Uniqlo bag inside. Then, they wrapped the braided brown paper handle with a soft foam so my hand wouldn’t hurt from carrying a heavy shopping bag! You could say they wanted to advertise their store and eliminate Uniqlo’s advertising, but it was still so nice of them to wrap the handle like that!
Doors on the taxi’s automatically open and close for you. So if you got a lot of bags, or don’t want to touch the dirty handles, this car accommodates your first world struggles!
To maximize efficiency, a lot of small shops that serve a specialty such as ramen, udon, or gyudon, have a machine right at the entrance where you can pay for what you want first, sit down, give your ticket to the cook/server, eat and then get up and leave! Sure, if you’re still hungry you’ll have to get up and purchase another ticket but if you’re looking or a nice quick meal you save so much time not having to wait for the check and paying that way.
I know in some states on the mainland you can drink in public but in Hawaii it is illegal so being able to do it in Japan is amazing! How convenient is it to buy a beer from the konbini or convenience store and chug it right outside the club you’re about to enter?! Super convenient right?
However, here is the most INCONVENIENT THING- there are no trash can’s anywhere (except stations and some vending machines have trash cans for recyclables such as cans and bottles next to them). So a lot of people end up hoarding all their trash in their bags until they get home.
Okay, so these things may only apply in a very crowded city like Tokyo and serve no purpose in the city of Honolulu but I think it’s a good mentality that Hawaii should adopt. Make Hawaii a livable city not only because of the beautiful beaches and weather, but also because of its efficiency and concern for its residents and not just its tourists. Why can’t Oahu specifically, be more walkable? Why can’t public transportation be better? Why can’t people be trusted to not steal bikes? Whyyyyyyy
But despite asking all these questions about Oahu and what it’s lacking, I don’t think I would be able to call anywhere else home. Hawaii is Hawaii and it will never be Tokyo, I understand that completely. Maybe with a few minor adjustments it could make the quality of living a smidge better, but Hawaii is already great and I know that a lot of people would agree with me (especially here). This is because I miss Hawaii a great deal, that I have to find the little everyday things about Tokyo that make living here tolerable (for me at least). What to take away from this little rant is, no matter all the big things like weather, crowds, pollution, etc. there is still a silver lining in this experience, which is the little things that make living here interesting. This, you can apply to any life situation really. No matter how bad things are going, it is important to see everything, good and bad, but to focus on the good, and even put in as much good energy as you can into the situation.
For real though, Tokyo needs some aloha and not just all the Hawaiian themed shops! There are a lot! Aloha, Japan!