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.


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  • zoomingjapan

    Believe it or not, but although I’ve been in Japan for over 5 years I have never ever used any of the fancy toilet functions apart from the heating seat which I use here at home.

    Oh yes, I LOOOVE the heated drinks in the vending machines! They are real life savers when I’m out traveling in winter! ^___^

    I also love the fact that you can call the waiter / waitress with a button in some restaurants! :D

  • Nerdista

    Oh, the heated drinks! I am always cold and they are just the best.

  • Cody Dalton

    Japanese mayo? Grooooooosssssssssssss XD. Should not touch anything that’s going into my body-I trust no such thing that requires no refrigeration. Also-should not be a condiment on pizza, ever. Especially one as common as it is here.

  • Christine

    Being from Norway, I reaaally miss the heated toilets. Oh boy! And, I miss the tissues that are handed out all the time. Dunno why:P Luckily, I’m moving to Tokyo in 5 weeks! :D :D

  • JapaneseMayonnaise

    “You end up using way less toilet that way, and your butt is as clean as a whistle.”

    I hate using too much toilet…

  • jafu

    okonomiyaki, takoyaki, ikayaki, tonkatsu, dango with ‘caramel’ sauce, yatsuhashi, goma dango, Japan makes the world’s best grilled, fried and deep-fried food, and yet it’s like an after-thought, just one more really good thing you find everywhere. Whereas in the US their deep-fried everything is almost a religion, a disgusting religion, that does not live up to the hype.

    I miss the countryside especially when covered in a blanket of snow.

  • Latrice

    I loved hot/cold drink machines! It’s the one thing about Japan I missed the most and tell everyone about before they go. I tell them to embrace the awesomeness of it and don’t take them for granted. LOL though the idea of hot Coke sounds a little scary.

  • パロモ

    Definitely miss the heated toilet seats and butt spray, which is hard to convey to friends back in the States.

    Top two greatest things about Japan? The women and the toilet technology, hands down.

    Speaking of the former, I miss the cabin attendants on Shinkansens and some trains, especially when, right before they leave your car, they turn and bow.

    The little things, man.

  • Mag

    @8b87719a3453db6199267aeebbefff83:disqus I miss the tissues too! So much better than flyers that just end up littering the streets, tissues are actually useful!

  • Yuume

    Have you tried it?

    I absolutely ABHOR mayonnaise. I hate even looking at it. It’s scary. Anything that just jiggles at stares at me is obviously out for my soul. And it tastes bad.

    However, I saw the article Tofugu did on Japanese mayo. I was really skeptical, but a lot of other people said they hate American mayo and that Japanese mayo is superior and way different. They speak the truth o_o It’s so delicious D:

  • Nana

    I kind of miss the same things about Japan :( I also miss Karaoke in Japan, always more fun than anywhere else in the world.

  • Kristina

    ooh I agree with the mayonnaise, I started to order online, such a happy moment when I realized you can order it.

  • Ayame

    Hot coke is actually very good! If you have a cold, you should drink it with a slice of lemon for your throat :)

  • orangedude

    Does Kewpie mayonnaise count as Japanese mayo? I can get that pretty easily in the states, and it sure is good!

  • Jennie Johansson

    I cant wait to visit Japan reading this post!! You describes it so intense and yes, allmoste everyone Ive talked to from Sweden who´s visit/lived in Japan miss the toilets as much as you do so Im looking forward to do my own blogpost about that experiance lol ^^

  • Kathryn OHalloran

    I miss the way people in shops hand your change back to you.

  • MrsSpooky

    If all goes well, I will be in Japan in October. I want my butt sprayed by the toilet.

  • Mescale

    The only thing I miss about Japan is Dakimakura-tan.

    WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME!?!?!?!?!?!?!

  • Margaret Eveleigh

    Japanese chocolates (meiji black, krunkies, etc). The store Tokyu Hands….I could spend days in there and I normally HATE shopping. Trains that are actually on time (gasp).

  • grimpoteuthis

    Being able to get a cold bottle of tea so easily on the go, from machines, konbini and supermarkets, so great on a hot day! Just tea, no corn-syrup, food coloring etc. And hot drinks on a chilly evening! Also being able to get inarizushi nearby whenever a craving strikes, which was/is often :) I also heartily second number 4 on the list! And being able to pay things like utility bills at the register in a konbini. So many little things…

  • shiro

    Yes, he has tried it – the “here” at the end should have tipped you off.

    I actually have quite a few friends who hate Japanese mayonnaise.

  • mezzie

    Japanese mayonnaise is laced with MSG, just like miso soup, shiitake mushrooms, and lots of other wonderfully-tasty Japanese foods :) Hence the “difference”.

  • hibabjoynyc

    ordering from a vending machine outside before picking up your food. the hot water spigots for tea at the kuru kuru sushi places. the white doily seat covers in taxis. how impeccably spotless the city is. *sigh* definitely miss it.

  • Jon

    I wish I had a toilet with a butt washer. I don’t normally mind wiping my butt with toilet paper, but it takes forever when it’s a bit liquidy.

  • legendofleo

    ” 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.”

    I’d like all manner of things to happen when I hit a button that doesn’t actually exist, but alas…

  • 古戸ヱリカ

    Hm. Three out of the seven of these involve buttons. We must refocus our science-efforts into the field of button technology.

  • Tanner M Colvin

    Holy crap. Where do I begin?

    I have no idea how many weird things I miss about Japan. I’d have to say, if there is one thing I miss the most about Japan it’s the little things.

    1. First off, I miss those catchy tunes that they play in department and grocery stores. A plus if it’s that cheesy 80s-style music. I always felt warm and fuzzy whenever I went to a Daiei or any other store and I always heard cheery music in the background.

    2. The fact that every store plays Auld Lang Syne (Glow of a Firefly) whenever it closes. I swear, whenever I was doing some nighttime shopping at the nearby H.I. ヒロセ or any department store for that matter, I felt a little sad. Because whenever I heard it, I didn’t want to leave. xD But I do like it for the fact that it’s a nice and gentle way of telling the customers to finish what they’re doing and get out.

    3. The ramen car. Every couple of weeks I would hear the sound of a charumera squealing a few blocks from my dorm. Something not unlike this:

    4. While I’m on the subject, yes, I miss that darned charumera. Every time I think of ramen, I think of that distinct sound of the charumera. And I like it.

    5. Green tea EVERYTHING. Seriously, if they can make a matcha-flavored anything, they’ll do it. My favorites? Matcha ice cream and matcha chocolate.

    6. The freaking weird arcade games. My favorite has to be the table-flipping game.

    7. I’ll stop at seven because it’s my favorite number, but I could add so much more. But the amount of different instant noodles that they offer. Now, this probably isn’t quite as odd, but those noodles are incredibly hard to find in Montana. The tonkotsu instant noodles especially.

  • TN Nisei

    I miss hearing the Japanese crows sound. It’s different from the American crows.

  • Nicole Jones

    When I go to Japan, the first thing I want to do is use their toilets. I always wanted heated toilet seats, especially in the winter. (the worst time)

  • Shollum

    I wish I had a Japanese bath here at home. Since we have an electric water heater, the temperature doesn’t get anywhere near the temperature of a good bath. Not to mention there’s usually not enough hot water left for a bath by the time I finish in the shower.
    A super advanced Japanese bath with its own heating unit and temperature control would solve all my problems, but I’m sure it’d cost a fortune to get one here… Oh well, lukewarm showers for me then…

  • Jonadab

    I have difficulty imagining that I would ever prefer a heated seat of any kind to a non-heated one, and that goes double for toilet seats. As for the spray option, I’m afraid that’s way too… the only word I can think of here is “French”… so, yeah, way too French for my tastes.

    Better water pressure in the shower would be nice, though.

    Hot Coke… Hmmm…. How about room-temperature Coke? No, wait, how about room temperature flat caffeine-free diet Coke? With mayonnaise in it! Or, you know, not.

    I’ve never had a chance to try real wasabi, because it’s basically impossible to get in this part of the world. (Even in Japan a lot of wasabi is fake, but where I come from you’re doing alright if you just get real soy sauce — many stores only carry La Choy, which is to soy sauce roughly as Kraft singles are to cheese. Real wasabi is so rare here it may as well be fictitious.)

  • Gakuranman

    Ah yes, I remember our conversation about heated toilet seats and butt washers well.

  • Stacy Dewing

    ramen would be at the top of the list for me :)

  • 古戸ヱリカ

    Bath re-heat buttons would be amazing. Believe me, tossing in a toaster every now and then just isn’t the same.

  • Furuikedo

    It is clear that 98% of you have not lived in Japan for more than a few months. After living here for years, you’ll be begging to trade your butt sprayers and hot cans for insulation and windows that don’t leak. You’ll pass on the ramen, and you’ll dream of cheese and whole wheat bread at night. And if you’ve ever been a driver here, you’ll miss how people didn’t try to murder you for honking at them, you’ll miss how people didn’t take advantage of their anonymity behind the wheel, after sucking everyone’s squeaky clean butts all day at the office, to act insanely on the roads until they bottle it back up at home.

  • Mary Moriarty

    You are on your own concerning the mayonnaise – I feel like I’m in a constant battle with restaurants trying to avoid it!

  • Red Maigo

    Mmmmmm. Heated toilet seats are heaven. One night, after a bout of heavy drinking in Shinjuku, I went to the bathroom and passed out sitting on a heated toilet seat. I dreamed I was sitting on the warm halo of God….
    Hey, I was drunk…

  • stefafra

    Well, having been in Japan in the middle of summer, I did not really appreciate the warm seat and warm water spray on toilets, it would have been much nicer to be able to change it to “cold spray”, just to get a little bit refreshed down below…(may be I could not find the relevant button).

    I guess in winter ,and with not much heating in the house, a warm toilet could be nice. Thinking about it, it would be nice to have it in my not so insulated and rather drafty UK house…trying to get up after my other half so the toilet is warmed by his butt requires a bit of diplomacy ;-)

  • stefafra

    Parmesan cheese, anchovies, ham, and almost all the other tasty things in life are “laced” with MSG, but for some funny reasons nobody has (yet) invented the “Italian restaurant” syndrome..
    It seems that human mother milk is also a rich source of MSG, and we are wired to like the taste of the stuff (richer then cow milk…):
    From a quick internet search:
    Free glutamate content of foods (mg per 100g) roquefort cheese 1280

    parmesan cheese 1200

    soy sauce 1090

    walnuts 658

    fresh tomato juice 260

    grape juice 258

    peas 200

    mushrooms 180

    broccoli 176

    tomatoes 140

    mushrooms 140

    oysters 137

    corn 130

    potatoes 102

    chicken 44

    mackerel 36

    beef 33

    eggs 23
    human milk 22

  • Dave

    That’s quite right! Australian crows sound completely different again. Have we stumbled upon a new field of scientific research?

  • linguarum

    Gift wrapping. Most stores in Japan have really cool wrapping paper and their own unique wrapping technique, and it’s free. In America, you have to pay extra, and the wrapping is just not kawaii.

  • Mireille Lubbe

    I absolutely love this article! I have to agree that I miss those things too – especially the warm bottled drinks! And I came across a warm matcha tea in one of those vending machines with my name on it. Really, it was called “Mireille”. And the warm toilet seats. I remember when we went to Fuji-Q in winter time it was freezing, but as soon as you get off a ride you just go to the bathrooms to sit on the warm! It was hilarious! And how about the strangely signs and notices in places you do not expect to get them, like a sign warning you of “angry caterpillars that might “bite” you if you sit near the flowerbeds.

  • Jamieoldfield

    I miss the metro jingles. The vending machines. The microwave rice. The microwave meals from the 7-11 and most importantly the pasmo card!

  • Tom Bower

    Good article, koichi. Just a heads up – you spell mayonnaise as “mayonaise” once or twice!

  • Raymond Chuang

    I’m disappointed that most people here don’t mention the superb commuter/long-distance passenger railroad system as one thing they missed when they leave Japan, unless you’re going to certain parts of Europe.

  • NeonFraction

    While I am no believer that Japan is heaven, not every apartment leaks and people where I live are just as horrible behind the wheel. (And probably far more likely to murder you, considering it’s Texas)

  • NeonFraction

    We actually have a movie theater/restaurant called Studio Movie Grill in Texas where you can press a button to get a server. They usually come quickly. Running is something I’ve never seen though.

  • Cody Dalton

    Yes, of course I’ve tried it XD Been here in Nagano for about 4 1/2 years. It’d be impossible to avoid it for that long ^_- Still- the texture, sweetness, and various other things just don’t do it for. I use it as a moistening agent for sandwiches in the States-here I just can’t. Ugh. Speaking of things that just aren’t quite right, Japanese Cheetos. W. T. F.

  • Jo Somebody

    Oh eww!

  • 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