US vs. Japan Life

to usa sign

I just hung up the phone on my family.

I am so homesick.

As much as I love living here, I do miss my family and friends. I wish everyone would come and live with me here in Hokkaido.

I was just reflecting on some of the ways life is different in the US and Japan.

Last June, I went back to the US for a visit. My nephew was graduating high school and it was one of those milestones that the whole family celebrated.

It was a short visit but I couldn’t help but feel how different life was in the US versus life was in Japan. Traveling all over New Jersey and Connecticut, I would have reacted differently to the same situation had I been in Japan. Granted, I was on vacation so I wasn’t really thinking clearly.

panorama shot new york
A view of New York City from across the bridge

One of the things I noticed was the over-reliance on driving. Since I live in Japan, I walk everywhere and have to rely on public transportation. Or during the weekdays when hubby takes the car to work. We share the car on the weekends.

When I don’t have the car, this means that anything that I bought, I alone had to carry home. I also had to be aware of the tight spaces if the trains get crowded. Trust me, if your backpack is bulging and you have a shopping bag of full of stuff in a crowded Japanese train, you feel like the biggest loser in the world. If the weather was nice, I could use my bike, but the rack on the bike is quite small. I’ve learned to cut down on a lot of purchases because I don’t always want to lug a heavy load home all the time.

In the US, because we lived in the suburbs, we needed a car to go everywhere. I noticed myself buying a lot more than I needed. I easily made a purchase–or maybe several purchases–and threw the bags onto the back seat. So much space back there! I didn’t need to think about how I was going to carry it home. Why bother thinking about my heavy load when there was a car?

freedom towers
The Freedom Towers, Ground Zero

Also, eating out was very expensive. Every time I made plans to meet up with friends and family, the first thing everyone suggested was going to a restaurant. We didn’t go to very expensive restaurants, but we did order more food than we should have. Between the appetizers, the entrees, the desserts, and the drinks, we easily spent 50 bucks per person. That doesn’t even count the tip!

I don’t usually eat out in Japan. Even if I did, the food portions are small and just enough to feed my appetite. Most restaurants also have a deal where you can get a combination of soup and salad with the entrée. Sometimes they’ll even throw in dessert with these combos. And the best part is that there is no tipping in Japanese restaurants–all for about ¥1000 or less than 10 USD.

sensoji temple
Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo

In addition to all of that, I forgot how most people in the US pay for their purchases with credit cards. In Japan, I usually pay for everything in cash–which I prefer, honestly. I like dealing with the paper bills and the coins. It makes the whole thing more “real” and I am aware of the money that leaves my wallet. However, in the US, every purchase I made was with a credit card and I didn’t even blink when my total came up to $200.

ryoanji temple
Ryouanji Temple, Kyoto

In Japan, I’m always paying in cash. You’ll notice that some stores in Hokkaido still only take cash and have to say no to credit cards. It’s slowly changing, though.

Yes, I was on vacation for a few days and probably indulged a little too much. Being out of Japan meant that I didn’t need to be as strict with myself as I should have been.

nagoya castle
Nagoya Castle

I don’t know, though.

Of course, this could all be in my head, too.

To make everything more certain, I would love to do another comparison when I get the chance.

Hmm. Maybe I should book another trip back to the US? 🙂



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