We at RocketNews24 previously told you about 10 Things Japan Gets Awesomely Right. Now we want to tell you about ten more things that are equally awesome, but especially for women in Japan. It doesn’t mean that men don’t also find these things impressive, but we’re betting that some of these have never been noticed by men, because, well, they were designed with women in mind.

Every woman likes to be pampered every now and then, and in Japan it’s just too easy to get used to some of the every day niceties we enjoy! Of course the Japanese are known for being polite, which helps tremendously to get through any stressful day, but Japan goes that extra step sometimes to make things that much nicer. After all, it’s the little things in life that matter, right?

So here’s our list of 10 things that make it so darn nice to be a woman in Japan. Get ready, ’cause you’re gonna love these!

Japan is known for it’s designing prowess and careful attention to detail as we have previously noted in how they wrap items or decorate sweets. This fastidious attention to detail is also a component of Japanese arts such as tea ceremony, calligraphy and kata. But how does this attention to detail translate into every day mundane life such as going to the bank, shopping, or coming home after a long day at work? Allow us to show you!

1. Purse Shelves

purse shelf


At many of Japan’s banks, convenience stores, and train stations you’ll notice a very subtle but useful obtrusion on the customer’s side of the counter. This is the “purse shelf,” where you can rest your purse or bag, thus freeing up both your hands to get out your wallet. When you consider that you might also have shopping bags, a child or even a take-out coffee in one of those hands, this shelf becomes extra useful. Now, would they do that just for men? I doubt it. Japan knows who holds the purse strings!

2. Shopping


Flickr Yasuyuki Hirata

Going shopping in Japan is truly a delight. Not only are the salespeople polite and helpful, but the dressing rooms in clothing stores are user-friendly. Naturally, you should take off your shoes before entering the dressing room! In the U.S., I wouldn’t dare take off my shoes for fear of stepping on a straight pin or the myriad tags and other sale detritus collecting on the carpet inside. Furthermore, in the U.S., the previous person would have left behind random clothes on, off, or half-way off hangars dangling from various pegs in the dressing room. No such chaos in Japan! You’ll always have an attendant who clears out the dressing room before you go in. After you’re inside, you’ll usually find a basket in which you can place your purse and your clothes while you try on the new ones. You’ll find a disposable face cloth to put over your head for trying on shirts (or anything that goes over your head) so your make-up doesn’t rub off onto the beautiful new clothes you’re trying on but haven’t yet purchased. If you come to the store wearing flats and you want to know what that dress or pair of pants will look like when you’re wearing heels, no worries! Many stores have a few sets of heels sitting near the dressing room so you can slip them on to check the length of dresses and pants. But my favorite part of shopping in Japan is that some boutiques have a sewing machine on the premises and will make alterations to your newly purchased item right there on the spot!

3. Public Restrooms

make-up mirrors

We often hear about Japan’s high-tech toilets but their public restrooms are also of high quality. The country has made a concerted effort to upgrade these public facilities in the past 20 years and most are now equipped with washlets. And luckily, along with Western toilets came toilet seat sanitizer! Isn’t that just so civilized? It’s not uncommon to have other amenities available too such as a make-up room, a toilet stall reserved as a dressing room (to change into those new clothes you just bought!) and children’s size toilets and sinks to assist mothers with toddlers.

▼Make-up rooms with mirrors are pretty standard at public washrooms near shopping centers. This one even dims the lights at night!

make-up mirror

▼A little boys’ urinal makes it easier for Mom.

child's urinal

▼Little girls haven’t been forgotten either! (Surely you noticed the “purse shelf” in the back–another standard toilet amenity).

child's toilet seat

▼For privacy reasons, we appreciate that the walls of the toilet stalls go all the way to the floor–isn’t that soooo logical?


 ▼Inside the stall, you’ll often find sanitizer for the toilet seat. Thank you very much!

toilet seat sanitizer

▼I found this “changing board” in a convenience store unisex restroom the other day. It allows you to change clothes without having to step on the dirty floor. Brilliant!

changing board


4. Hairdressers

beauty shop front

Flickr (Halfrain)

I can get my hair done for the same price here as I do in the U.S. but there’s one major difference: I get tons of extra services from my hairdresser in Japan. From when I walk into the salon, my hairdresser immediately meets me at the door, takes my purse and stows it in a safe place, and serves me hot coffee or tea (freshly brewed in real porcelain cups as opposed to the self-serve coffee dispensed in a styrofoam cup at my salon in the U.S.). Once seated at her hydrolic chair, there is a small dish with a folded handkerchief in it–the place to put my earrings (after all, this is precious jewelry and should be treated so!). After she takes me to the basin to wash my hair, she puts a small towel over my face so I can appropriately zone out in darkness and without getting splashes of water on my face while she gently washes my hair and massages my head. She’s not too chatty and let’s me just enjoy my time at the beauty parlor. Then, and I love this, after she has finished cutting and blow drying my hair, she massages my neck and shoulders for five minutes! They must be stiff after sitting all that time, she says. Of course they are–Of course they are!

5. Taxi doors that open automatically


Flickr (damon jah)

We’ve mentioned before how much we love the taxis in Japan, piloted by white-gloved drivers who open the door for you, but we just have to mention it again because it’s just so awesome! All it takes is either the push of a button or the pull of a handle from the driver (like in a bus) and the back taxi door swings open and awaits you to get inside. The driver then closes the door in the same manner.  Yes, we women frequently have a child, shopping bags, or groceries in our arms (or maybe we’re just talking on the phone!) so yes, indeed, please open the door for us!

6. Hotel Room Amenities


Flicker (David McKelvey)

While all hotel rooms in Japan stock complimentary shampoo, conditioner and body soap in the bathrooms, they go the extra step by offering toothbrushes, cottons for removing make-up, ear buds and disposable razors. But the best amenity in the hotel room is surely the yukata, a Japanese style cotton kimono with a belt that is made for lounging around and even sleeping in! So you can literally rock up to any accommodation completely unprepared and stay overnight without having to worry that you didn’t bring anything. And isn’t it nice to not have to carry your pajamas with you every time you go on a business trip?

7. Ladies’ discounts


Flickr (Shino)

If you like Japan’s rooftop beer gardens, such as those found atop the big department stores, you’re in luck because women get discounts! Beer gardens are mostly patronized by groups of co-workers who go for after-work all-you-can-eat buffets and all-you-can-drink beer. There’s a set charge, but it can vary depending on if you’re male or female. Women save about 1,000 yen (US$9) off the price the men are paying for the same thing. Japanese women don’t usually eat or drink as much as men (notice how few Japanese ladies have pot bellies compared to men) and restaurant management accounts for this. While we here at RocketNews24 love beer and I’m sure some of us women could drink our male co-workers under the table, however, decorum (and high intellect) usually controls this urge. As if cheap drinking and eating isn’t enough, movie theaters sometimes designate a Ladies Day where we get discounts on seeing flicks. I suspect the reason so many discounts are given to women, in general, is that women are known to talk among their friends and recommend products much more so than men. Thus marketers are keen to get women to use their products or visit their stores hoping to get that valuable word of mouth advertising.

8. Bathing Culture


Flickr (Charles Chan)

Beauty magazines and health articles are constantly reminding us women about the importance of relaxation. Beauty experts advise us to take some time out of every day to treat ourselves to body maintenance such as a facial scrub or a hot bath. Heck, in Japan that’s the norm! The hot springs culture and the art of soaking in a hot bath is one of those ancient Japanese rituals that we’re not about to pass up. All Japanese homes have a bath for the purpose of a nice slow soak every night before going to bed. Thus, you most likely already have your very own home spa set up stocked with packets of bath salts, facial masks and scrubs, pumice stones, etc. The problem in Japan is not finding time to take a bath, but finding time to get out of it! Some Japanese people take bathing to an extreme and plan entire vacations at onsen hot springs resorts. And of course, that’s the way it should be! These resorts not only insist that you relax repeatedly in different pools of water, but they allow you to test beauty products for free (in hopes that you’ll buy them at the souvenir store, of course).

9. Japanese Gardens, tea houses and cafes

lilly pond

Flickr (Yoshikazu Takada)

If you need a bit of a time-out before you get home to that hot bath, Japan offers a plethora of controlled spaces in which to decompress. Even in the noisy cities you’re never far from a Japanese garden where it will be quiet, peaceful and beautiful. The healing power of plants, flowers, ponds and bonsai is well-known and will soothe the soul. Even those who don’t just love to garden will surely appreciate the special atmosphere of the Japanese garden which is so intimate, it seems to whisper to you. If all else fails and you can’t make it to a Japanese garden, there’s always a tea room or even a state of the art cafe where you can sit back and have a cuppa with a cat (or an owl or a goat) while devouring a gorgeous dessert.

10. Safety

train car

This is probably true for men too, but I have yet to meet a woman who isn’t thankful that she doesn’t have to worry about citizens running around with guns shooting up schools and whatever else takes their fancy. Japan has its share of violent outbursts, but at least those afflicted don’t have access to guns. Organized crime–sure, they have guns. Nothing is going to stop them. But since regular citizens don’t, this makes a big difference.

Since women are especially vulnerable to crimes such as physical assault and robbery, for us to be able to walk city streets alone at night without having to worry is, well, Heaven!

While Japan is famous for its low crime rate, I’m always surprised that no one ever mentions why the crime rate is so low. Most people overseas presume that Japan’s social structure stifles people’s violent nature. But I assure you this isn’t true. Japan has just as many crazy people as anywhere else. The difference is that Japan is much better at preventing crime than most other countries. Things such as women-only train carriages are a good example. It’s an easy solution to the groping problems on crowded trains. The simple installation of parking lot attendants means criminals won’t break into cars and women won’t get preyed upon when returning to their cars alone at night. The fact that ATM’s are always located inside banks or shopping malls discourages robberies (and makes police having to patrol ATMs redundant). Criminals will always go for easy targets, so the fewer the better. Small police stations called koban are scattered throughout neighborhoods. Feel like you’re being followed? Slip into a koban and ask for an escort.

Japan takes crime seriously. It is seen in the extra effort banks go to by employing part-timers to help customers in the bank lobby. These uniformed staff (usually retired men or women) help customers fill out banking forms and use the myriad functions of the ATMs. But they are also watching who comes in and out of the bank and are able to alert supervisors to suspicious activity.

All these precautions, while perhaps costing a little bit more money, promote Japan’s quality of life. That makes it a win-win situation for everybody.

I don’t know about you, but as a woman, I love Japan. And these are just ten reasons why.

Don’t miss our other article in the Women in Japan Series: 5 Powerful Reasons to be a Woman in Japan.

Feature Image: Flickr (Jesslee Cuizon)
All photos © Amy Chavez/RocketNews24 unless otherwise noted