After a long week of Comic-Con and coming down off the high of crossdress cosplaying as Sailor Venus, our intrepid Japanese reporter, Yoshio, settled back into life in his home country and has taken some time to reflect on his trip. Yoshio has been to the US nearly a dozen times, but there are always several things that impress him. The following is a translation of his impressions and the nine things he thinks the US does better than Japan.

1. American garbage bags

During my most recent trip to the US, I stayed at my friend’s house and I couldn’t help but be impressed by the garbage bags in his kitchen. There’s a string attached to the bag, making it easy to tie up. In Japan, there aren’t any bags like that, so when the garbage bag gets really full, at best you’re not able to close it and at worse it splits open. What an awesome invention! I was so impressed with these American garbage bags that I went online to see if I could get some back home. Apparently, you can find them at Costco Japan!




2. Kind people

Without an escalator, going down into New York’s subways with a baby and a stroller is a difficult task for a mother or father. But when Americans see this difficult situation, they immediately lend a hand and help to carry the stroller down the stairs. This situation isn’t even limited to New York, but the west coast as well. People are just so kind! On the other hand, if I had to guess, I’d say most people in Japan would simply pretend to not see the struggling mother or father and choose not to help.

In addition, while I was in Downtown San Diego, I happened to walk by a park where I saw two homeless men arguing with each other. Immediately, the people around them stepped in to try to calm the situation. This would never happen in Japan. There are people in Japan who would call the police, but I doubt there’s anyone who would try to mediate between two homeless people. I think Japan should learn from this aspect of American culture.

3. Starbucks campaigns

If you’re ever at an American Starbucks, be sure to look at the receipt. If you purchase a drink before 2:00pm, you’ll see a little note at the bottom that gives you the option of purchasing a grande size cold drink for only $2 if you bring the receipt back after 2:00pm! Isn’t that such a great service!?  In Japan, you can pay 100 yen (US$1) to get unlimited refills on hot or ice coffee. Clearly one of these services is superior.


4. Restaurant takeout 

Even if you’re dining at a really fancy restaurant, in the US, you are able to take your leftovers home. What’s more, the staff will ask you if you’d like your food wrapped up if they see you have leftovers on your plate; it’s just a normal part of dining culture in the US. Sadly, in Japan, this custom doesn’t exist and you’re going to get a lot of surprised looks if you ask your waiter to save your leftovers at an expensive restaurant. This is a convenient and much-appreciated aspect of American dining for many people from Japan who are used to eating smaller portions.

5. Free refills!

At American fast food chains, a wide variety of drinks are all-you-can-drink. I usually drink one cup while eating at the restaurant and then right before I leave I get another cupful for the ride home. It’s such a great service! Free refills are given in family restaurants in Japan, but it’s definitely not as common as it is in the US and you certainly can’t get free refills at fast food chains in Japan, even McDonald’s.

6. Use your credit card anywhere

It’s so convenient to be able to use your credit card anywhere you go. It’s always a hassle to have to carry around a bunch of coins and bills because it makes your wallet so bulky. While it’s not impossible to use a credit card in Japan, far fewer stores and restaurants accept them, and many places hesitate to allow you to charge a purchase under 1,000 yen ($10).

However, in the US, I always paid using my credit card when taking a taxi. All taxis have a credit card machine in the back of the cab, and all you have to do as a passenger is slide your card through and you’re done; it’s so easy! But in Japan, if the taxi does accept credit cards, you have to hand your card to the driver, wait for it to process, and then sign the receipt. But your work isn’t done there, you have to wait an additional few seconds for the driver to print and hand you your own copy of the receipt. It’s a simple thing, but all that extra time can make a guy a little irritated.

7. Pools!

Even really cheap apartments have a pool in the US; I felt like they were everywhere. To be honest, I don’t even like pools, but it seems like it would be a godsend for busy parents looking for a place for their kids to play on hot summer days. That many pools is unheard of in a country like Japan where open land is very scarce. But don’t think all of Japan can’t swim – elementary and junior high schools hold swim lessons for every student.

8. Inexpensive clothing?

This is kind of personal, but I’m a short guy at just 166 cm (5’5″). That said, small sized T-shirts in the US are too big, so I’m always buying a child’s size XL. So before I left the US, I went into abercrombie kids (the children’s version of Abercrombie & Fitch) and bought a bunch of shirts and shorts. Children’s clothes are a lot cheaper than ones for adults; it was the best! Japanese people generally have a smaller build, so I hear there’s a lot of people who visit from Japan and buy kids’ sizes…

9. Paper towels

Any restroom you go into in the US has paper towels; it’s so nice to dry off your hands after washing them. What’s more, they have these machines that automatically dispense the paper so you don’t even have to use your hands. Of course we also have paper towels in Japan, but most restrooms only have hand dryers (or nothing at all). From an environmental standpoint, using hand dryers is a good idea, but often they aren’t clean so you have to consider how hygienic they actually are.

To finish off my list, I thought it might be interesting to ask my friend who lives in San Diego to add something to my list of things the US does better than Japan. This is what he had to say:  “Beach manners are better here. In Japan, people are always playing music and drinking, making a lot of noise. Here people have good manners. Of course, you can’t drink alcohol on the beach in the US, so there’s that…”

Report: Yoshio
Photos: RocketNews24