The 7 Odd Things I’ve Missed About Japan

As we film this month in Japan, I’m starting to remember the things that I’ve missed most while being here. While there’s things I definitely don’t miss, I think it’s the little things that count. Most of them have to do with bathrooms in some way, but hopefully you’ll understand my love for getting my butt sprayed with warm water by the end of the article.

Here’s the things I’ve missed most:

1. Toilets (90% For Butt Spray)

Japanese Toilet

Photo by Kodefuguru

I was originally considering breaking this up into like 12 parts, because there really are that many great things about Japanese toilets, but I figured that would be cheating so I’m combining “toilets” all into one.

First off, heated seats. How many times have you sit down on your toilet and thought “damn, this is cold.” Now, how often do you sit on your toilet and think “awww, so warm.” A warm seat makes a big difference, and keeps you from getting the hemorrhoids.

The best thing, however, is the butt spray (oshiri button). While it may be awkward for you to hear this, there’s nothing better than getting your butt washed out with warm water after you’ve used the bathroom. You end up using way less toilet that way, and your butt is as clean as a whistle. And, while I’m not a lady, I’d imagine the bidet is pretty nice too. Many people are scared to try these features but I’m telling you, once you do you’ll never want to go back. Pretty sure I’m going to be getting myself a Toto in America next month… Can anyone say “Best Tofugu Sponsor Ever”? Your move, Toto.

2. Japanese Showers / Baths

Japanese bath

Photo by yto

Let’s get the bathroom related stuff out of the way. I’m going to combine Japanese-style baths and showers into one section, because they kind of go together anyways (you ought to take a shower before getting in the bath, you know?). There are a few things that make Japanese style showers / baths so great.

First, the water pressure is often pretty amazing. If you’re taking baths almost every day, you gotta be able to fill up that bathtub quickly. Often times the pressurizer is built into the nozzle area too. This means better pressure for you.

Also, the water can get incredibly hot. Often you’ll have the option to go up to 50 degrees Celsius. That’s 122 degrees Fahrenheit! In case you didn’t know, that’s very toasty and will probably scald you. 42-44 is pretty good if you ask me. Either way, my shower in America probably doesn’t go past 40, so this is something I really look forward to, like, a lot.

On top of all of this, there’s the whole onsen thing which is very nice. I’m pretty happy with just the bathtub / shower combination in a bathroom. Everything else (onsen, public baths, etc) is just icing on the cake. Delicious, delicious icing.

3. Heated Bottled/Canned Drinks

hot vending machine

You can buy heated bottled / canned drinks from not only convenience stores / regular stores, but vending machines as well. That means hot tea, hot coffee, hot cocoa, and even hot corn soup. While this may seem a bit weird for people at first, hot drinks (and food) are a beautiful thing that should be cherished by all. I always go back to America and look at the vending machines with disgust and contempt. Sure, the technology of vending machines in Japan is that of the year 2050… but it’s the hot drinks you can get that make all the difference. The only thing that disappoints me is that you can’t buy hot Coke. Seems to me like it’d be delicious, amiright?

4. Scripted Welcomes


Photo by Yuya Tamai

I kind of love this even though I know it’s all scripted and often fairly fake. The scripted welcomes, thank yous, and goodbyes that conbinis (as well as other establishments) give you are pretty awesome. It’s sometimes like a chorus of singers greeting you at the door as they do a round of “irashais” at you. While keigo is a huge pain when you have to do it, it always feels good when people do it to me. I’m not sure why I miss this (maybe because people who work at convenience stores in America obviously hate everything, especially you), but it’s something I look forward to every time I walk in the door somewhere.

5. Real Wasabi


Photo by dnak

Did you know that in most places outside of Japan you’re being deceived by the wasabi? They’re giving you food colored horse radish, or something similar. The taste is quite different too. Once you’ve had real wasabi root nothing else tastes quite as good. One of the things I’ve missed a lot about not being in Japan is the lack of real wasabi (and even when you find it it’s super expensive). Real wasabi is super delicious. It’s hard to settle for anything else.

6. Call Buttons, Running Servers


Photo by paretzp

Sometimes in Japanese restaurants there are buttons you can push. When you push said buttons, servers come running, usually literally. It’s like a little mad dash to your table to serve you. They aren’t even getting tipped, either. I’d like to see an American server run to your table when you hit the server button that doesn’t actually exist in America in the first place.

But it’s not just the button (though the button is great). When you want something in a Japanese restaurant you call for it. Sumimasen! you yell. Haiiiii, they respond as they come running. Instead of waiting for the server to come to you, you just ask for them to come and they do. It’s a little more direct, but you get what you want when you want it. Also, button. Buttons are great.

7. Mayonnaise

japanese mayo

Photo by Harukasan

How can you not miss Japanese mayonaise? First of all, it’s basically on just about everything (and if it’s not, it ought to be). Second, it tastes good, unlike other mayonaise. Like, it actually tastes good, and quite a bit different from what you might think. It’s still mayonaise, but it’s hard to explain. Japanese mayonaise is a bit sweeter, tastes a bit lighter, and goes better with just about anything. It’s hard to escape the grasp of mayonaise in Japan, so it’s much better to just embrace it, eat it, and let go of your mayonaise racism.

Luckily for me, I can get Japanese mayonaise in America, meaning my sandwiches, fried foods, and mouth can be filled with that delicious, delicious kewpie sauce. Japanese mayonaise, I want you inside of me.

So, those are the things I miss about Japan. Sure, there are plenty more “mainstream” ones, I’m sure, but these are the little things I miss (though you can hardly call mayonaise little). Any weird little thing you miss about Japan? Let me know in the comments.

  • Wayne

    Reco Fan stores, Kawaii things everywhere (cute mascots), crazy 10 second TV commercials, those insane TV games shows with panels of people laughing a lot, Tokyu Hands, Seibu Loft, polite people, Village Vanguard stores, very fast trains, Dango, Natural Lawson, UT (Harajuku), Karel Capek, Cheesey toasto with a green olive at Dutour, Choco Cro cafes, and, and, and….

  • randomperson

    I miss the people.. ^^ Everyone would greet me in the morning as I went off to a meeting and bow to me, everyone was so respectful. It’s a great feeling and a superb way to start your day.. I’m so used to america where everyone is so arrogant, so it was nice to be around respectful and humble people.

  • nina

    Mayonnaise tastes awful!

  • Maximuz

    All but one were food or bathroom related! lol. The toilets are awesome, we have them in Korea too, but not as common as Japan.

  • Chris Taran

    Speaking of “While there’s things I definitely don’t miss”, I would love to see an article on the thing you don’t miss! Would be interesting :)

  • Chris Taran

    I actually have a crosswalk that makes a “beep boop” sound in the city I work in (Scranton, PA)! I mostly find it annoying though :p

  • CelestialSushi

    I think there’s just something about certain types of birds and regional “dialects”. Goodness knows seagulls have the same kind of thing; the gulls at Lake Erie sound so different from the gulls near Tampa Bay (or at least, I thought they sounded different for the most part). It’s not hard to imagine it’d be like that with other birds :) An interesting field of study, to be sure…

  • Neko Nana~

    I’m still living in Tokyo, so I mostly can call me lucky. Of course there are things that are unpleasant as well, but the good and memorable things overweight them. I’m looking forward to be able to show all those awesome things to my sister soon.
    The things I know I’m definitely going to miss are all the fresh (compared to any other countries conbini) bento’s/food in their variety and the delicious bakery stuff (and the beautifulcakes~), the fresh tea every afternoon/evening served by my former host-obaachan or the tea served to meals in general, the custom to go out to izakaya and dates as if it’s the most normal thing, the tradition to go out in a park and do what ever you like without people looking weirdly at you and of course most of the things you mentioned above. Oh and the mochi-icecream :9

  • 白い小がも

    Note: hot Coke is NASTY. Leave a bottle in a car during the summer where it’ll get lots of sun, and you’ll find out.

  • Emily Jane

    I miss Daiso – best store ever – British £1 shops are sh*t – more likely to get a pack of dusters or a bar of soap rather than multicoloured hello kitty delights. Also really miss the toilet seats, I feel like I’ve been done an injustice every time I sit down on a UK toilet seat now. Also strangely I miss having to take your shoes off – mainly because I’m sick of people traipsing their muddy shoes all over my brand new carpet. I definitely don’t miss the bean filled pillows however.

  • Jon Walmsley

    Damn, you’re making me miss Japan now, stop it!

  • Pigumon

    It is much nicer, that’s why they give you the options to turn it on and off…

  • CptNerd

    500 yen umbrellas everywhere. Every activity/place/product with a mascot character. Station music. The giant Ghibli clock in Shiodome. Nakano Broadway.


  • OH Traveler

    When I’m back in the U.S. I go back to my life style of driving a car right up to almost of the door of everywhere I go. In Japan I always seem to be running through a train station to catch the next train that will be on time. Then I always remember the train trips in the crowded cars.

  • andre

    andersen bakery, coffee shops (including japanese Starbucks), small yakitori stands/shops, odd and funky street fashion, drunk ‘salari’ men in black suits on Friday nights :D and…ever sudden rain and small earthquakes :)

  • Roger Smokey Castonguay

    Thanks for sharing. I’m in Japan right now and have participated in or done all of these things. I totally agree with all that has been posted. These are amenities that just don’t exist in the western world. I will miss them. I would like to add one more aspect of Japan that I absolutely love and that is the service that comes to your rescue when everyone at the clubs or restaurants have been drinking and no one is fit to drive. They have a service, which is readily available on your cell phone, that you can call to come to your rescue and avoid having to drink and drive. They arrive with two people. One person drives your car and the other is the chaser car. The cost is approximately $20.00 but well worth it, when you think about what could happen while driving under the influence.

  • Ethan

    As an Australian visiting Sapporo, the first time I heard a crow I was convinced it must have been some eccentric Japanese man sitting in a tree and doing a very bad impression of one!

  • Angel Cumbersom

    I miss that little strip of tape they put over your bag to keep it shut when you purchase something from a store.

  • DiStri

    Mayonnaise is delicious anyway – Ever tried dipping chips (by which I mean french fries) in it instead of in ketchup? It’s brilliant. Though I don’t know what american Mayo is like (or even if it’s any different than it is in Europe)

  • Diego Zavala

    Although I am in bright and sunny California (apart from New York), where a LOT of americans/foreigners would like to be, This made me think: shouldn’t America with its many resources to the world be able to at least keep up with booming countries like Japan and Europe? Also it made me kinda cry inside. (o.o)/

  • Burenan


  • Lessa Traboco

    I miss japan. :( *keeping fingers crossed for being a daddy’s girl* :)

  • Lessa Traboco

    I miss the clean streets, I miss the shopping, I miss the salesladies who wear what they sell, I miss the electronics, even though I don’t understand, I miss doing my laundry wearing kitty ears and no one would really care, I miss eating and eating and not gaining any weight since everything is so healthy. :p I miss my brother most. :(

  • Rosalind Alexander

    My goodness! Europe’s not a country! And I have never wanted to live anywhere in America , though it is great for holidays :)

  • Wendy

    Oh Koichi, there’s 1 more MAJOR thing missing from your list. HEATED FLOORS. I’m sure you’re aware of the anti-insulationism, so in the winter, there’s nothing like curling up on my floor or when my friends invite me over, we’re all sitting on the floor. I have 2 more winters left to enjoy this floors. I’ll bask in it!

  • coldcaption

    There’s actually a Cracked article about this. Crows have dialects!

  • linguarum

    Strawberries! And other fruit. Sooo much better in Japan. Doesn’t even taste like the same fruit you get at the store in America. But then the fruits are more expensive in Japan, too.

  • Tilly

    lol @ mayonnaise racism