It has been a hectic few weeks with few updates, and I am truly sorry about that. I have had numerous ideas for posts, but lack of time has stopped me.
Now I am overseas on a business trip, it is the first time in two years that I am back in my “homeland” of Europe, and it has made me reflect on my situtation as a foreigner in Japan.
There are surely a lot of things about Japan that I absolutely despise and cannot understand; but there are so many more things that are so great they should not be underestimated. Just a simple thing as shopping on weekends. I know it differs from country to country in Europe, but I think Sweden is sort average when it comes to business hours. How on earth are you supposed to enjoy shopping on weekends (the only real time you have time, if you have a full time job) if stores open at noon and close at 4 PM? Further, I estimate 75% of all shops are fully closed on Sundays, and the ones that are open are open as short (or shorter) as on Saturdays.
This is never a problem in Japan, where most shops are always open from 10-11 AM to 8-9 PM everyday including weekends. Sure, stores are occasionally closed – but what is most common is that many department stores are closed on a regular weekday instead; and not necessarily once a week, but once a month or less. Fabulous. Truly fabulous.
Speaking of shopping. (Sounds like I love shopping… I don’t, but hey, sometimes you gotta do it, and it’s better to do it in a fun, relaxed way isn’t it) The amount and variety of products available in Japan is purely amazing. Speaking in European terms, I doubt there is a city in Europe, maybe except London, that has a greater market for consumer products. And I am not only talking about luxury goods or electronics (where Tokyo undoubtedly is #1), but also cheap shopping is fantastic. Where else are the cities filled with “100-yen stores” (where everything costs exactly 100 yen, or close to; i.e. roughly $.90) that has everything from napkins, cutlery, cups, frying pans, rakes, handbags, chips, noodles, sodas, etc. etc. etc. There is one big myth about Japan and that is that everything is expensive. It is utterly false. The living expenses as in rent etc. may be high, but otherwise you can live dirt cheap here. And it’s fabulous.