Japan. It’s the coolest country in the world and foreigners everywhere aren’t ashamed to admit it. Don’t believe us? Ask Anthony Bourdain, chef, journalist, enthusiast and all around Japanese admirer. Or maybe tweet Pharrell Williams, a CFDA fashion icon, musician and Tokyo fanatic. To these men, Japan is the place to be… simply because it’s inevitable to keep coming back and sometimes, stay for good.
Sure, the distinguished Japanese sushi and saki lovers may never understand the essence of a greasy Philly cheesesteak or a melt-in-your-mouth Chicago deep dish, but, this modern and innovative country certainly has a few things that the U.S. doesn’t. And ironically, it’s the small things that seem to make life a little bit better. From the food, to the mind-boggling technology and an aggressive hustle and bustle, Japan has Hollywood’s finest and travelers across the globe completely addicted. America, it’s time to take notes.
The Toto Toilet
Alright, alright. We know what you’re thinking. “A toilet? What’s so awesome about a toilet?” Well, ladies and gentlemen, this isn’t just any old toilet. This is the Toto Toilet. And yes, it’s everything your traditional American brain would imagine it to be: cool, electronic and extremely Japanese.
“Basically, we’re the Apple Computers of toilets,” a Toto spokesperson told San Francisco Gate. Over the past thirty-five years, this state-of-the-art washlet corporation has managed to reach an outstanding 70% of all Japanese households. Its startling and enticing features include heated seats, a motion-sensitive lid and most imperatively, a soft splash of warm water after a relieving bowel movement. Toto is a major part of the Japanese culture but why isn’t this trending in the states yet?
Living in a big city like Tokyo can be both thrilling and entertaining. There’s lots of lights, lots of people, lots of action and a whole lot of germs. Yes, germs. Since the breakout of the flu in the early 1900s, Japan has become a very health conscious country, using disposable face masks – renamed “J-masks” by the younger generation – to protect and conceal unwanted germs.
For the Japanese, the J-mask is the best form medicine – and of course a respectful gesture to coworkers, pedestrians, family members and train passengers. Taking a sick day is rare in Japan and working professionals who commute from small towns outside of Tokyo can spend nearly four hours on a crammed train each day. That’s more than enough time to exchange bacteria.
So, will a J-mask help you dodge your bi-yearly cold?
Delicious food is one of the best aspects of Japan. It is succulent, flavorful and arguably the best in the world. But for traditional Americans, it isn’t the 5-star restaurants and exclusive cuisines that makes Japanese food so damn good. Sometimes, it’s just cooking it ourselves.
Small restaurants called yakiniku, or “grilled meat,” stand alone on nearly every corner, welcoming guests to barbecue a variety of Japan’s fresh produce, favorite fish and tender steak over the table’s built-in charcoal grill. But before being seated, they shop the in the restaurant’s refrigerated section for limitless options of onions, shrimp, peppers, pineapple, steak, broccoli and much, much more. Sounds amazing, right? As the flames heat up the entire room and groups of 3 or even 10 chat about their long week in the office, the restaurant style “homemade Japanese dinner” comes to life.
Handy Dandy Handles
There’s nothing quite like holding onto a random stranger every morning on the express train to work. It’s awkward, uncomfortable, unsanitary and completely unnecessary. But, we’ve all been there before – especially if you have the luxury of living in the United States.
In Japan, the train rides are much more pleasurable. Although the high speeds can be nauseating for most foreigners, a short reach for the small handles hanging from the ceiling is the perfect amount of support for a daily commute. Unlike a train ride from Brooklyn to Manhattan, one is Japan is steady and balanced. Each handle is about foot apart from the other, with just enough space for a less awkward travel experience.
Can we get these built into our cars too?