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10 Things About Life In Japan You Probably Don’t Know

10 Things About Life In Japan You Probably Don’t Know

Life in Japan can be challenging, but also absolutely amazing and wonderful. Having spent two years in the country of the rising sun as a kid I still remember quite a lot of things that kept me thrilled and amazed. Here are ten things about the Japanese lifestyle that you should know before moving in or traveling to this wonderful country!

1. Christmas is a lover’s holiday

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    Christmas is not a traditional holiday in Japan. Though, in recent decades it became popular to decorate everything with lights and buy fur trees, do not expect a traditional evening meal with a turkey in a family setting. Think of Christmas in Japan more like of Valentines day in the US. On December, the 24th you are expected to ask out your date to a fancy place, think of a unique date idea or some other couple activity and yes, prepare a gift, but a romantic one. In Japan, gifts are rarely exchanged among family members and friends unless that was pre-arranged earlier.

    Another peculiar Christmas tradition in Japan is going festive at KFC! It emerged after a surprisingly successful ad campaign in 1974, where a group of foreigners were desperate to find a turkey for Christmas and ended up celebrating at KFC. There’s always a huge queue in front of any KFC at Christmas as everyone are eager to grab a 40$ special meal of chicken, wine, cake and champagne. The tradition is so popular in Tokyo, that you need to pre-order your Christmas-special chicken meal and book a table in advance!

    2. Keep your trash with you

    One of the first things you notice in Japan – trash cans are impossible to find at public places! Yet, there’s not litter on the streets either and by no means you should become the one who leaves it! So, what are you expected to do with your bento pack or a melon soda can? Put it in your bag and carry it home like all the Japanese people do. Alternatively, veteran expats pointed out there are public trash cans available at McDonald’s and konbini (convenience) stores.

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    When living in Japan, you will learn a lot about handling trash. As the islands are tiny and densely-populated, it was crucial for the Japanese to focus on recycling and minimizing their impact on the nature around. That’s why one of the first things you receive when moving in your apartment is a gomi guide – an immensely detailed instruction on all-things-trash, from sorting it the right way to days when certain types of waste are collected. Caveat: if you missed throwing the appropriate type of trash on the right day, you will have to wait for another week till you can get rid of it!

    3. Driving experience is different

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      First of all, you need to get used to the fact that your steering wheel is now on the right side of the car and you are obliged to drive on the left side of the road. Also, all the speed limits are listed in kilometers, not in miles. Make sure you can convert them correctly before stepping on that gas pedal. Traffic lights are horizontal and double stacked, so it takes some time to figure out which one is working for you now. While most Japanese drivers are really accurate and attentive, there’s another road hazard – careless cyclists who often pop out unexpectedly on intersections and sometimes ride on the opposite side of the road.

      Remember, you are not allowed to drive in Japan with a US-only license. You should either have an International Driving Permit that can be retrieved from American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA) back in US. However, those are valid only for short-term stays in Japan (less than 90 days). If you plan to settle in Japan for longer, you should either get driver’s license of the international standard or switch overseas driving license to Japanese ones.

      Don’t get upset if the whole thing looks difficult to you, Japan has impeccable train service that will get you to any place at no time.

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      4. Bowing isn’t as easy as you think

      You do know that the Japanese bow at practically any occasion from a greetings to apologizes. Learning to do it the naturally graceful way for a foreigner may be really tricky. Here are three main types of bows:

      • eshaku – leaning about 15-degrees in an informal setting and as a greeting.
      • keirei – 30-degree bow to show a higher level of respect say to your boss or other people who are higher than you on social scale
      • saikeirei – 45-degree bow reserved for major occasions like meeting the emperor or say when you’ve screwed up really big (think destroying someone car).

      5. Always carry an umbrella in summer

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        The rainy season (tsuyu or baiyu) takes place in most parts of Japan from early June till late July and a month earlier at Okinawa. Whereas it does not rain straight for two months in a row, the weather becomes really unexpected. You can leave the house while the sun shines bright to realize it’s raining cat and dogs in a mere hour when you are about to leave the shop. Unless you’d like to spend ¥100 each time it starts raining (or get soaking wet), do carry an umbrella all the time.

        Also, do not forget it’s impolite to enter any store or other venue with your dripping umbrella. There are special boxes installed outside where you should place it. They are never stolen, yet if you don’t have a particularly distinctive parasol, it might be accidentally taken by someone else. Surprisingly, you can find it the next day at the same box as that someone returned it for you.

        6. Policemen are really friendly and concerned (sometimes even too much)

        Japan traditionally tops the list of the safest countries in the world with extremely low crime and murder rates. Hardly anyone actually locks the doors at home and if you lost your phone or wallet at the train station, there are 99.99% chances you’ll get it back the next day with the same amount of cash. Therefore, Japanese police is busy sorting out other issues the citizens have. Say, if you got lost in Tokyo, a policemen will surely guide you back to your home or the nearest metro stations. You can chit chat with them and joke all the way back home. Also, these folks can call you a cab and lend you money if you had a rough drinking night and missed the last train.

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        However, as Karin Muller pointed out in her book “Japanland: A Year In Search of Wa” sometimes the local police friendly concerns can become too much. The local officers were really concerned about her nightly running habits, numerously talking her out of jogging around the beach after dark for no specific safety reason. But that’s kind of a cute motherly-like concern, right?

        7. There’s no need to double-check anything

        There are zero chances you will receive the wrong amount of change from a cashier. Not a single chance the item you ordered would be fake or lack any accessories that were sold with it. Japan has no tolerance for scamming or dishonesty. Not only it is highly shameful to trick anyone, but also rather costly with huge fines and legal consequences for those who’ve attempted and got caught.

        Also, bargaining isn’t a thing in Japan. All the prices are fixed even at street markets. Do not ask for a discount unless it’s already listed on the product.

        8. Night clubs are not for dancing

        It is just as odd as it sounds – you are not allowed to dance at a vast majority of night/dance clubs around Japan. Basically, any night venue in Japan has a “Please, no dancing sign” and if you get rebellious after a few shots and still decide to get low on the dance floor, you can get kicked out. According to a law adopted back in 1948 (and never changed since then), clubs with a floor space less than 66 sq/m  (710 sq ft) cannot obtain the proper license and allow customers to dance. A later law adopted in 1984 bans dancing after midnight. Real estate prices in Japan are whooping. Finding and renting a place over 66 sq/m gets extremely expensive and hard to find. Add extra fees for obtaining “dancing license” from the government and we get an absolutely broke club owner who will need to work for decades before he starts earning at least something from the venue.

        If you plan to have a night out dancing till dawn, look for clubs based outside the city or in industrial areas like ageHa based in Shin-Kiba (port district) in Tokyo. Free shuttle buses run from/to various parts of town, plus the venue’s open till late with an array of professional dancers to round out the onstage entertainment. However, there’s been a slow shift in the society and the “no dancing” law could be modified by Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.

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        9. There are special sleepers to attend the bathroom

        First of all, when entering the house you are supposed to take of your shoes and either put on the sleepers proposed by the owners or walk barefoot around cozy tatami floor. Also, there’s a set of special sleepers reserved for walking in the bathroom only. Usually they are left next to the door or right in front of the entrance. You are supposed to wear them only while using the toilet and it’s extremely embarrassing to forget changing them back after you’ve finished all your business there. Also, it’s polite to put them back just the same way they were standing, so that the next person could easily slip into them.

        You’ll find the same “bathroom sleepers” in numerous restaurants and venues around Japan. Make sure you do not end up walking in them back to your table. Also, you are required to take your shoes and leave them aside before entering a fitting room at the shop. All of them have special clean podiums where you should stand barefoot.

        10. Laundry is usually done every day

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          Basically, each Japanese family does the laundry every day. By 7 am you can see an array of crispy clean clothes drying outside. Usually, it is considered inappropriate to wear any clothing item twice without washing it first. That’s a crucial point to consider if you plan to share your living space with a Japanese person.

          Featured photo credit: Moyan Brenn via flickr.com

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          Elena Prokopets

          Elena is a passionate blogger who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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          Last Updated on April 6, 2020

          How To Be Successful In Life: 13 Life-Changing Tips

          How To Be Successful In Life: 13 Life-Changing Tips

          What is success to you? How to be successful in life?

          To some, when they think of success, they imagine wealth; others want power; some just want to make a positive impact on the world.

          All of these are perfectly valid, indeed success is a concept that means different things to different people. Though no matter what success is to you, it almost certainly isn’t something will come easily.

          There are countless guides and books to being successful, however, as success is personal and unique to each individual. The advice contained in these books can often not be relevant. Therefore following the advice of a single individual can often be unhelpful.

          With this in mind, considering the advice of a great many people, people whose ideas of success were different both to each other, and quite possibly, to you can be a good alternative.

          What follows is a list of 13 of the best pieces of advice from some of the most successful people who have ever lived. If you want to learn how to be successful, these tips are essential:

          1. Think Big

            From Michelangelo Buonarroti, Great Renaissance Artist:

            “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

            There are few artists as influential as Michaelangelo. Today centuries after his death, his work still inspires and connects to people. His work is world famous, just think of his statue of David, or the Mural in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

            Imagine then, if he decided not to work as an artist.

            Being a successful artist has always been extremely difficult, imagine if he decided to give up this ambition in favour of something easier?

            Oftentimes, people often decided to put their dreams aside for something more “realistic”. To give up their dream for something easier. This quote teaches us the danger of such a point of view.
            Instead be ambitious.

            2. Find What You Love to Do and Do It

              From Oprah Winfrey, Media Mogul:

              “You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job and not be paid for it.”

              This is a good quote to remember and think about when you’re at work.

              Imagine being as successful as possible in your current job. Ultimately you’ll probably find yourself working extremely hard and this it will take up much of your time.

              If it’s a job you hate, then being successful at it might only mean filling your life with something you hate to do. What’s the sense in this?

              Instead, why not focus on doing something you love? When you’ve found what you’re passionate about, you get the motivation to keep you moving. Success at this means the fulfilment of your dreams.

              Not sure what your passion is yet? You should learn about this Motivation Engine first.

              Even if you’re not successful, you still filled your time with something you love to do. Many successful musicians spent years of their lives doing unpaid performances, the only reason they kept playing was because they loved to perform.

              3. Learn How to Balance Life

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                From Phil Knight, CEO of Nike Inc.:

                “There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success.”

                All too often, people think that to be successful, they need to make the object of their success their life.

                If a person thinks their job will lead them to success, then they may spend countless hours per day, and well into the evening working hard.

                However this comes at the cost of rest, your health and having an enjoyable life. Ultimately they may burn out and cease to be successful at their job anyway.

                If success comes from having a strong social life and a good group of friends, their job may suffer; meaning that they may lose their job, and then be unable to afford going out with friends.

                In these ways, success, as Phil Knight says above, is helped by balance. Think of it as a balance between rest and work, or work and play.

                To achieve that balance, this Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life can help you.

                4. Do Not Be Afraid of Failure

                  From Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motors:

                  “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

                  There is a story, it’s unconfirmed whether it actually happened, yet the message within is none the less true:

                  Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb was the result of several hundred failed attempts. In an interview, he was asked “How do you feel after all of your failed attempts?”

                  His response was great, “I didn’t fail, I learned hundreds of ways not to invent the lightbulb”

                  He saw each “failure” as a lesson. From that lesson he learned what won’t work, and also might work instead.

                  Each failed attempt, each rejection, were key steps on his path to success. It is easy to feel like you should give up after a failure. But perhaps in that failure is a lesson.

                  Pay attention to your failures, study them. Perhaps then you’ll learn how to succeed.

                  If you find it difficult to fight your fear of failure, here’s a guide for you: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It Step-By-Step)

                  5. Have an Unwavering Resolution to Succeed

                    From Colonel Sanders, Founder of KFC:

                    “I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. And I have done that ever since, and I win by it. I know.”

                    This, in many ways relates to the above quote about learning from your failures.

                    It’s the easiest thing in the world to give up from a failure. The only way to push on is if you have the true burning desire to succeed, to not be moved or dissuaded from your goals.

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                    If you are not truly dedicated towards success, then each failure will hurt more, each set back will slow you down.

                    Success is hard; without the unwavering desire to succeed, this difficulty may seem insurmountable. With the desire, it is merely an obstacle to go through.

                    6. Be a Person of Action

                      From Leonardo da Vinci, Renaissance Genius:

                      “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

                      Though it was said hundreds of years ago, it works just as much today as it ever had. It applies to literally any successful person.

                      Think about it, picture someone like William Shakespeare:

                      When we think of the time he lived in, we think of the time in a way shaped by him. When we think of Renaissance era Italy, we think of Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. Or think about the present day, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Our current way of life would simply be incomparably different if they didn’t accomplish what they did.

                      You’re probably reading this article on a device by a company that they either founded or companies influenced by them.

                      All these figures were proactive, they saw ways to do things differently and did them. If they let the world shape them, then they’d simply fit into the background. Instead they shaped the world.

                      Applying this to you?

                      Don’t be afraid of going outside the norm. If you can think of a better way to do something, do it that way. If you fail, try again.

                      7. Cultivate Positive Relationships

                        From Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of America: “

                        The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”

                        The best leaders and some of the most influential people (and Theodore Roosevelt is one of the best leaders and one of the most influential people to have lived) were not those who caused commotions, who fought with people or disregarded people; but were people who were friendly to those around them.

                        People liked them. They wanted them to do well.

                        This is key to good leadership.

                        It’s logical. If someone likes you, they want to help you; if you give them a suggestion, they’ll gladly follow through with it.

                        But if someone doesn’t like you, they may either refuse to help or actively get in your way.

                        What’s more, it’s always a good idea to cultivate good relationships. You can never tell who will prove to become someone who’ll be able to help you in a big way, or even be a good and supportive friend.

                        As such, help people and they may help you; and be good to people, and they my be good to you.

                        8. Don’t Be Afraid of Introducing New Ideas

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                          From Mark Twain, Famed Author:

                          “A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

                          It is an unfortunate truth that those with the boldest ideas are often disregarded.

                          Most of us are taught from an early age to think and do things similarly to everyone else. This can be great to fill an existing role. But to truly do things differently (and all successful people did things differently), you need to think differently.

                          If you have a new idea, don’t throw it away because it’s new and different; instead, celebrate it. Your strange new idea might one day be the one that leads you to success.

                          9. Believe in Your Capacity to Succeed

                            From Walter Disney, Founder of Walt Disney Company:

                            “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

                            Success has to be something you can imagine yourself achieving.

                            It is possible that you will come across those who doubt you and your ability to succeed. You must not become one of these people because the moment you cease believing and dreaming is the moment these dreams fall away.

                            Keep dreaming!

                            10. Always Maintain a Positive Mental Attitude

                              From Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of America:

                              “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

                              Like the above quote says, you need to trust in your ability to succeed. This is the only way to cultivate the right mindset.

                              Replace negative thoughts with the positive ones. You need to approach problems, not as obstacles stopping you, but merely tasks that need to be completed for you to keep going.

                              If you stay positive and think like this, setbacks won’t affect you so much, people’s doubts won’t impact you and even the biggest obstacles will seem like minor problems.

                              However with the wrong mindset of doubt, you’ll be much easier to stop.

                              11. Don’t Let Discouragement Stop You from Pressing On

                                From Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of America:

                                “Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.”

                                It is an unfortunate fact of human nature — all of us in some way, doubt ourselves. This can be made far worse if others doubt us too.

                                When surrounded by doubts, giving up can actually seem like a good idea.

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                                Don’t pay attention to the doubts. If you are discouraged, ignore it.

                                If this discouragement moves into your mind and you begin to doubt yourself. It is important to ignore this too.

                                This is How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck and How to Overcome It

                                12. Be Willing to Work Hard

                                  From JC Penny, Founder of JC Penney Inc.:

                                  “Unless you are willing to drench yourself in your work beyond the capacity of the average man, you are just not cut out for positions at the top.”

                                  You might have heard the quote that “success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” or you may have heard about the 10,000 hours idea.

                                  Whichever way you frame it, they say one thing:

                                  True success comes from work.

                                  You’ll never become successful if you don’t work towards your goal in life and keep working towards it.

                                  Check out this article and you’ll understand Why Hard Work Beats Talent.

                                  13. Be Brave Enough to Follow Your Intuition

                                    From Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple Inc.:

                                    “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

                                    In ancient Greece, there was a group of Oracles who lived in Delphi. Everyone who needed advice or to know their future visited them, from the poorest of society to kings. Above the doorway of the temple were the words “know thyself”.

                                    If you strongly believe and desire something, chances are that you already have an idea how to get there. If not, you may naturally know what things will help you and what things will slow you down.

                                    It’s like how your body can detect danger even when things seem safe.

                                    Ultimately then, you need to trust your own instincts.

                                    Final Thoughts

                                    What you might have noticed is that many of the above lessons are similar — most are about developing the right state of mind. This clearly suggests that the key to achieving success, in whatever you wish, comes down to the way you approach it mentally.

                                    Moreover, no matter what stage of life you’re at now, you can still make a difference and pursue success. You can make resetting your life possible when you do this: How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

                                    More Tips for Achieve Success

                                    Featured photo credit: Ryan Wong via unsplash.com

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