In February, I was lucky to have the opportunity to spend 10 days in Japan. Although that isn’t a very long time, it was enough for me to notice the following things about the country:
1. Japan’s Aging Population
Low fertility rates and high life expectancy have contributed to the fact that about a third of Japan’s population is over the age of 60. That’s a startling statistic, and although I have heard about Japan’s aging population problem before, I was surprised at how apparent it is – the number of old men and women I encountered on the streets of Japan was noticeable. Interestingly, the old men and especially women in Japan are very short! I noticed that because at 5’1, I am quite short myself, and it was strange to see so many people who were a full head shorter than me. They are adorable, but my heart breaks for them, because many of them were out shopping and taking care of errands alone. I wonder if they live alone or if they have family to take care of them at home.
2. Streets (and cars) are Narrow
The boxy-van type of car (sorry I’m no car expert so I can’t be more specific) is pretty popular here. You can see an example in the black car on the right. It’s like a van, but very boxy-shaped, which makes it more narrow than a normal van. Muchly needed because the streets here are very narrow compared to American roads! Another interesting tidbit is that people back into parking spaces, so that the front of the car faces the road, as shown above. In fact, when I moved to America, I was surprised that people did the opposite.
3. Wearing Face Masks
Couldn’t find a picture, but imagine those masks that your dentist wears. It is very common for people here to wear face masks out in public. When someone has a cold, they will wear a face mask in public to reduce the spread of germs. I think it’s great, you don’t have people sneezing and wheezing everywhere. Japanese people are so mindful of others! (As I am writing this, I have been living in China for over 2 months, and I can say that despite the awful polluted air, nobody here wears face masks. Odd.)
4. No Trash Bins in Public Spaces
Japanese streets are clean and spotless. Which is why I find it odd that there are no trash bins on the streets. The Japanese expect people to take their trash home to dispose/recycle it themselves. This way, every member of society is forced to be mindful of and responsible for the amount of waste they produce.
5. Vending Machines for coffee!
There are so many types of vending machines here, but the one I’d like to mention in this post is coffee! You can choose what kind of coffee you want, and whether you want milk or sugar. You can get a cheap cup of coffee quickly without having to talk to people, which is a huge draw for me. Lol.