Live in Japan or America


Since I had a really good time with my family in Japan during my vacation, I have much more appreciation for traditional Japanese culture. My friends were asking me why I decided to live in the U.S.? and “Is that better?” That was their question. I do not wish to offend anybody but I think this really depends on your priority and what matters the most to you. Here is the general summary of my pros and cons of living in Japan so after weighing the positives and the negatives, I decided to move to the States.

But this is my personal summary and you may not agree with it.  🙂

So let’s start with the things that I miss about living in Japan.

Things that I miss about Nihon

#1 Safety: Japan is definitely much safer than America in general. There are unsafe towns in Japan but these are not comparable to the ones in the U.S. Although firearms are strictly prohibited in Japan, most people that I know in the U.S. own guns. I grew up without guns so I am not comfortable with guns or people who handle guns. Japan is one of the safest nations in the world.

#2 Efficient and polite Customer Service: Japanese customer service is simply outstanding. The cashier does one’s job very efficiently and in the US, cashiers are often chatting and they are just very laid back. I am used to it now but I am often amazed by the quality of Japanese customer service. When you purchase something at a department store, Japanese sales person often bows deeply. I bought a lipstick at Shu Umemura and this lady bowed and when I turned around, she was still smiling and bowing!!

#3 Candies: Japanese candies are the absolute best in the world in terms of taste and trendy packaging! In the U.S., I don’t find that many nicely packaged candies with individual wrap and they have super cute characters for each candy. Famous one is Milky candy. Mascot character for Milky is Peco chan. I always want to buy extra candy bags because of its cute packages.

#4 Quality: The quality of Japanese products is very high. For instance, Japanese cars such as Honda, Toyota are highly rated each year. The quality of food served in the restaurants is very good and delicious. Japanese electronics are economical yet high-quality. Japanese companies generally produce high-quality products.

#5 Cleanness: Yes it is very clean in Japan. Japanese kids are told not to pick up after ourselves and even clean the classroom during cleaning time. So Japanese people don’t litter things and the streets are maintained nicely. Stores are clean, restrooms are clean, restaurants are clean, malls are super clean. You can trust Japanese products.

#6 Shopping: It is a lot of fun to shop in Japan. Japanese stores more high quality products that are less expensive and more appealing in terms of design. As a girl, I enjoy going to small stores that carry lots of cute goods. (i.e. LOFT). I just love it and cannot find the equivalent store in the U.S.

#7 Food: Foreigners often think we eat Sushi and Udon everyday but that is not the case. You can have all kinds of foods in Japan. There are western restaurants and I personally believe that even McDonald’s is better in Japan. Don’t you agree? Food costs are relatively cheap in Japan and that’s another appealing factor.

#8 Politeness: Japanese people are extremely reserved and it is a shame based society. Japanese people tend to be more polite and less assertive. At least that’s the impression you get from most people so I do miss that politeness.

Things I love about living in the U.S.

However, I still chose to move to the states and reside in this country permanently. So there are many reasons behind my massive decision. 

#1 More opportunities for women: Japanese companies still tend to encourage pregnant women to resign early. Things are changing and they may not say it out loud but that’s the normal expectation for women. It has been an issue in Japanese society today. Many Japanese women have to choose between career advancement and child rearing. It is very difficult to do both when holding a responsible position in Japanese corporate world. It is possible but extremely challenging without extensive help.

#2 Spacious: Everything is spacious in America. Japan is a small country so the country does a good job turning small space into resorts, theme parks, office spaces, buildings etc etc. It is really amazing how Japan uses its small space efficiently. But I am more comfortable in the US because everything is much more spacious. Even in the cities, I don’t need to bump into people and jump on a crowded train in Tokyo, for example. I can just drive everywhere and streets are more spacious and it’s easier for me to drive in the U.S.

#3 Diversity: This actually matters to me and probably the most significant factor that has led to my decision to move to California. Japan is homogenous and it is very challenging for mixed people to live because it is very important to be part of this collective system. “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.” 

#4 Individualism: While Japan is a collective society, America is an individualistic society. Although you still have to be a team player, it is important to be able to be independent in American society. You are part of some kind of groups (i.e. religious organization, school, work..), it is important to know who you are and what you want in the US in order to find like minded people and live your life in a very diverse society. Your views and opinions are more likely to be heard in American society.

#5 Quality of healthcare: I had very serious operation a few years ago, and I was very fortunate to have received care from highly trained specialists in the US. Probably America has high quality doctors and medical professionals but the only issue is that not everybody gets to access the healthcare in America. But if you have a standard health insurance, you are more likely to work with highly trained doctors who are strictly regulated by the board of medicine. It actually took me a while to understand this but I no longer feel comfortable getting treatment from Japanese doctors in Japan who often maintain a good reputation by going through training in America.

#6 You get to be the best: America is a society of immigrants who often work really hard to be successful. It is extremely competitive in the US. If you study in a highly ranked university in America, you are receiving training from world renowned researchers and professors. (I am not going to say they are better than instructors in Japan.) and at last your credential will be highly regarded internationally. I don’t like to be one of those who think America is the best..but it is a very competitive society so if you make it in the US, you are more likely to be highly regarded internationally. (Musician, artist etc)


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