A few months ago, we found the top 25 things in Japan most likely to blow foreigner’s minds. This time, we asked foreigners (all men) to tell us what makes Japan such a great place.  Those surveyed came from France, the United States, Tunisia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, Malta, and Ireland.

Ranging from seemingly mundane to large-scale societal characteristics, our readers explain why they love Japan.

1. The image of Japanese people being polite held true even at the airport immigration check point.

Visitors to Japan were impressed by the courtesy and politeness of Japanese airport officials.  When entering other countries, many travelers have faced unpleasant immigration officials with scowling faces who haphazardly toss back passports without so much as a smile.  Having interacted with hoards of unfriendly airport workers, it is refreshing to find that those representing the entrance to Japan are so pleasant.

2. The Yakitori shops are amazing!

“Cheap and delicious! What more can you ask for?” said those surveyed, referring to the grilled chicken kabobs famous in Japan.  Yakitori shops usually feature counter-seating which adds to the quick, cheap-eating atmosphere, although high-class sit-down yakitori restaurants exist. A favorite drinking snack, each skewer of chicken costs around 100 to 200 yen (US $0.80 to $1.60).  If you’re looking for something grilled, meaty, and cheap, look no further than yakitori.

3. Police officers and government workers don’t act like they are better than the people they serve

We’ve all experienced it: the police officer who treats you like a criminal; the government worker who seems hell bent on making your paperwork filing process as unpleasant as possible.  But many foreigners were relieved to find that interactions with these notorious government officials in Japan weren’t so bad.  Police officers are said to be very polite and government workers seemed to do their best to expedite transactions.

4. The food is so good! Japanese chefs are like artists.

Famous for having a delicate hand and a focus on utilizing the natural flavor of ingredients, Japanese chefs are praised around the world for their simplistic cooking style.  Presentation is also a very important aspect of Japanese cuisine, adding an artistic flare to already delicious dishes.

5. Japan has a strong moral value system

A man from Singapore commented that many people from his country are in pursuit of the 5 C’s (condominium, car, credit card, cash, and career).  However, in Japan, many people live by a different value system: the 4 S’s (service, social, sustainable, share).  From creating a plentiful life to fostering a prosperous society, the Japanese moral value system aims to create cohesive social order.

Whether you agree with Japan’s value system or not, it’s undeniable that Japan has achieved a surprisingly safe environment.  This writer has personally lost a wallet containing the equivalent of US $1000 in Osaka, one of Japan’s largest cities with a population comparable to that of Chicago.  Both the wallet and money were returned the next day.  There are many stories of this kind.  A woman leaves her purse on a train, purse rides train all day.  A man loses his wallet, finds it warming the bench he left it on several hours earlier.  These stories are more than old wives tales.

6. Edamame is delicious!

“It’s so simple, but it’s the perfect pairing with a beer. Awesome!” says everyone who’s ever had the pleasure of eating edamame during a night of drinking.  Described simply as “boiled, salted soy beans,” the Japanese word, edamame, is well-known all over the world.  Even Beyonce is rumored to be hooked on these little green beans.

7. Japanese are tactful when it comes to discussing money

Many people in Japan don’t flaunt their wealth and very few ask about other people’s income.  It’s not that Japanese people are disgusted by wealth; it’s just not a high priority for many people.

8. Excellent personal hygiene, no littering

Many foreigners commented that they appreciated the cleanliness of Japanese people.  Almost everyone displayed excellent personal hygiene and streets were litter-free.

9. People are very patient and show restraint even under the most stressful situations

During the Tohoku Earthquake that shook Japan in March 2011, images of displaced workers walking home in an orderly line were splashed across screens all over the world.  Before and after pictures of gaping holes carved into asphalt by the shaking ground earned praise from abroad for Japan’s speedy repair work.  Japan’s most recent earthquake is one of many examples cited by foreigners as a testament to Japan’s perseverance and restraint. In addition, most office workers must work overtime and ride a crowded train home every day.  Although it’s uncomfortable, Japanese workers are never seen complaining about their unpleasant commute.  “Their restraint is amazing! Are they aliens?” commented one expat.

There’s sure to be exceptions as Japan isn’t quite the utopic society that many envision, but there is still something very special going on in Japan.  From edamame to surprisingly pleasant government workers, our readers have shown us that there are many reasons to love Japan.
[ Read in Japanese ]