Japan is a fascinating and diverse country that attracts many expats from around the world. However, living in Japan also comes with its own challenges and adjustments. There are some things that expats may miss from their home country after moving to Japan, whether it’s food, culture, or convenience. In this article, we will explore 10 of these things and why they are important to expats.
1. Common kitchen appliances such as oven, dishwasher and garbage disposal
One of the first things that expats may notice when they move to Japan is the lack of common kitchen appliances that they are used to. Ovens, dishwashers, and garbage disposals are not standard in most Japanese homes, as they take up space and consume energy.
Expats who enjoy cooking, baking, or cleaning may miss having these appliances in their kitchen, and may have to adapt to using alternatives such as toaster ovens, rice cookers, or hand-washing dishes.
2. Food, Candy and snacks
One of the things that expats may miss from their home country is cereal, candy and snacks. Japan has its own variety of candy and snacks, which are often colorful, cute, and unique.
However, expats may not like or be used to the flavors, textures, or ingredients of these products. Expats may also miss the nostalgia and comfort of their favorite candy and snacks from their home country, such as chocolate bars, chips, cookies, or popcorn.
Some of the candy and snacks that are hard to find or not sold in Japan are:
Cheerios: These oat-based cereal rings are a classic breakfast staple in the US, but not in Japan, where they are banned if they contain BHT, a controversial food preservative.
Licorice: This chewy candy is mainly popular in England and Australia, but not in Japan, where many people find the taste too ‘medicine like’.
Root beer: This carbonated drink is often associated with American culture, but not in Japan, where it is considered to have a medicinal or antiseptic flavor.
Pop-Tarts: These toaster pastries are a convenient and sweet snack in the US, but not in Japan, where they are hard to find in stores.
Spices and spice mixes: These seasonings are essential for making Tex-Mex, Mexican, or other ethnic dishes, but not in Japan, where most cooking is done with salt, sugar, rice wine, soy sauce, and vinegar.
Egg whites in a carton: These liquid egg whites are a staple of bodybuilding diets and baking, but not in Japan, where they are not available at all due to pasteurization and sanitation requirements.
3. Going for a long leisurely drive
Another thing that expats may miss from their home country is the freedom and pleasure of going for a long leisurely drive to get their mind off things. Driving in Japan can be stressful, expensive, and complicated, as there are many rules, regulations, and fees involved.
Expats may also have to deal with traffic jams, narrow roads, and parking issues. Expats who love driving may miss the feeling of hitting the open road, listening to music, and enjoying the scenery.
4. Strike up random conversations with strangers at bars
One of the joys of traveling or living abroad is meeting new people and making friends. However, expats may find it hard to strike up random conversations with strangers at bars in Japan, as the culture is more reserved and formal.
Expats may also face language barriers, cultural differences, and social norms that make it difficult to connect with locals. Expats who are outgoing and sociable may miss the ease and fun of chatting with strangers at bars in their home country.
5. Good cheap Mexican food from food trucks or even Chipotle
Food is one of the most important aspects of any culture, and expats may have different tastes and preferences than the locals. One of the cuisines that expats may miss from their home country is good cheap Mexican food from food trucks or even Chipotle.
Mexican food is not very common or popular in Japan, and the options that are available may be expensive, limited, or not authentic. Expats who crave tacos, burritos, nachos, or guacamole may miss having access to good cheap Mexican food from their home country.
6. Over the counter medicine such as Nyquil
When expats get sick or have a headache, they may want to reach for their familiar and trusted over the counter medicine such as Nyquil. However, expats may not be able to find these products in Japan, as the regulations and availability of drugs are different.
Expats may have to rely on prescription medicine, herbal remedies, or local brands that may not work as well or have side effects. Expats who are used to self-medicating may miss having over the counter medicine such as Nyquil from their home country.
7. Sarcasm (humor lost in translation)
Humor is another important aspect of any culture, and expats may have different styles and preferences than the locals. One of the types of humor that expats may miss from their home country is sarcasm, which is often lost in translation in Japan.
Sarcasm is a form of irony or exaggeration that is used to mock or tease someone or something. However, sarcasm may not be well understood or appreciated in Japan, as the culture is more literal and sincere. Expats who are sarcastic may miss being able to joke around with their friends and colleagues in their home country.
8. Dental floss
Dental floss may not seem like a big deal, but expats may miss it from their home country after moving to Japan. Dental floss is not widely used or available in Japan, as most people rely on toothbrushes, toothpicks, or interdental brushes to clean their teeth. Expats who are used to flossing may find it hard to find good quality dental floss in Japan, and may have to order it online or bring it from their home country.
9. Diversity of Cheese
Cheese is another food item that expats may miss from their home country after moving to Japan. Cheese is expensive and rare in Japan, especially the types that expats are used to. Most cheese sold in Japan is processed and bland, and imported cheese can cost a fortune. Expats who love cheese may have to settle for occasional splurges or make their own cheese at home.
10. The flexibility of working hours
Japan has a very hard-working and diligent culture, but it can also be very demanding and stressful. Expats who value work-life balance may miss the flexibility and autonomy of working hours they had in their home countries, such as flexible schedules, remote work, part-time work, etc. They may also miss the benefits and perks they had in their home countries, such as paid leave, bonuses, incentives, etc.