Overseas otaku says he learned some things while traveling in Japan, but many say they shouldn’t have been surprises.

Melonpan (@MeidocafeR on Twitter) is easily Switzerland’s, and quite possibly the Western World’s, most famous unabashed pervert otaku. Over the past few years, he’s regularly shared his unbridled passion for non-center-of-the-bell-curve anime-related titillation, and just over a year ago said he was seriously considering moving to Japan.

However, Melonpan recently sent out a tweet that shows he’s soured on the idea of becoming a resident of the Land of the Rising Sun.

“Things I learned while traveling in Japan:

I don’t want to live in Japan.
The working environment is terrible.
It’s noisy (especially in the cities)
Homes are small with poor insulation.
There are too many tourists (primarily Chinese) in tourist destinations like Kyoto, Tokyo, and Osaka.
A lot of places are run-down.

Japan, what happened to you?”

While some commenters nodded their heads in agreement, more than a few chimed in to say that Melonpan’s complaints aren’t necessarily new developments. If by the working environment being terrible he means that Japanese workers work longer shifts than their counterparts in Western nations, often to the detriment of their health, that’s something that’s been going on for generations.

Likewise, Japanese homes being small, by international standards, is something that foreign visitors and residents have been talking about for decades. Japanese homes’ poor insulation is something that does indeed get less attention, though, with guidebooks often waving the issue aside by saying Japanese homes are cold in the winter because they’re designed to be cool in the summer (though as anyone who’s spent a summer in a Japanese home can tell you, there’s no way you’re making it comfortably through July and August without turning on the air conditioner).

As for city centers being noisy, that’s something you can say about urban areas in just about any country (no one goes to New York’s Times Square for the peace and quiet, after all). One thing that can be startling about cities in Japan, however, is how many stores have speakers and/or sales staff calling out to passersby, inviting them to come in and look at their wares. This does get easier to tune out the better your Japanese language skills become (since that proficiency changes the sounds from “noise” to “words”) and the longer you spend in Japan, but it can definitely feel like a nuisance early on, and one that may never entirely fade, depending on your comfort levels with environmental noise.

And yes, Japan is receiving more international travelers than ever before, and while the numbers are up from a lot of countries, Chinese groups are often the most noticeable. The increased tourist traffic is especially easy to see in Kyoto, but here’s a little secret about that. Those images of Kyoto’s premiere temples and shrines that you see in brochures and on official websites, devoid of other people and filled with the calm of reverent isolation? They’ve always been crowded, unless you got there first thing in the morning, and often on an off-season weekday to boot. Kyoto has been one of Japan’s most popular travel destinations for a long time, with both domestic and foreign tourists, and even before the recent Japan travel boom you weren’t going to have the place all to yourself.

▼ Melonpan doesn’t specify what places in Japan he thinks are “run-down,” but maybe he was expecting everything in Japan to look like a pristine ryokan inn or high-tech skyscraper?

All of this isn’t to say that Melonpan’s conclusion that he doesn’t want to live in Japan is wrong, or that such a conclusion in any way invalidates the enjoyment he, or anyone else, has felt while staying in Japan temporarily as a tourist. Just because you love Japan in small doses doesn’t mean you would, or have to, enjoy spending every day here.

Japan is a country, not an amusement park or universal paradise, and like any other country, there are pros and cons to living here. Being a happy resident of Japan generally does require you to be OK living in compact quarters, putting up with the hustle, bustle, and crowds when you go into one of its densely developed downtown areas or must-see destinations. And yeah, you’ll also want both a strong work ethic and the mental toughness to be able to dig in your heels when your boss or society in general is pulling you out of out of a reasonable work/life balance. How willing you are to deal with that long-term is one of the most important questions to ask yourself in figuring out whether living in Japan is a decision you’d be happy with.

Source: Twitter/@MeidocafeR via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2, 3)
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