What's it like to live in Japan? Well, for starters, I've experienced excellent customer service parallel to that of the high-end brands in the U.S. such as Nordstrom or even Zappos.
1. SUPERB CUSTOMER SERVICE
Thus far, I haven't had poor customer service. Granted, it's only been a full week or so in Kyoto / Uji area. Even so, all of my experiences thus far have been outstanding from the exceptional internet service provider at my dorm that sent a brand new modem to me within a few days to the Subway employee, who hand-drew directions to our next destination for my mom and I!
One time, I got off at the wrong station near my dorm. When I asked an elderly gentleman how to return to my dorm, he actually walked with me for about ~7 minutes back towards where I needed to go. Another time, my mom and I asked for directions near Obaku station, and the young woman who was on her way to an interview, offered to walk with us to the station. Incredible!
Right now, it feels as if every store has superb customer service parallel to that of Zappos and Nordstrom back in the U.S.
2. EVERYTHING IS TINY ... AND I MEAN TINY!
Streets, shoes, clothes, cars, and even people are tinier. Every time I come to Japan, I'm amazed by the tiny streets, literally a quarter the size of an average San Francisco street. Cars swerve around corners, while people sidestep them within a few second of being hit. Plus, the average person also has to avoid bikes, as it is 100% okay for a bike to push you out of the way. Pedestrians have to stand up for themselves and walk defensively. Or else!
But good things come in small packages, so at the end of the day, I appreciate the differences that make Japan such a unique and revered culture.
3. TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES ... EVEN IN FITTING ROOMS
When I was asked politely to take off my shoes in the fitting room, I was flabbergasted. Maybe I've never tried on anything at a store in Japan, or maybe I just don't remember, but this request startled me! Although initially taken aback, I happily took off my shoes.
It's common to remove your shoes when entering the house, and wear slippers for walking inside the house. But what may surprise some foreigners, are the special slippers just for the bathroom.
Japanese people strongly believe in keeping a clean house by not wearing external shoes inside the house. As such, they grow up wearing slippers within the house, and even when entering large community centers and facilities. Throughout school, they also purchase and wear special slipper-type of shoes for walking around inside the school building. When they go outside, they wear their normal shoes.
4. YOU DON'T HAVE TO TIP @ Restaurants!
And yet another major difference is the fact that you never have to tip. With no tax or tip, restaurant food is significantly less expensive.
When my mom and I were touring Kyoto together, we stopped at least four places for food, matcha breaks, etc., but we would have spent at least an extra $20 more had we been in America. What a nice treat!
Even when you ask someone at a store whether or not they have a product, they will generally run to go find it for you. It's amazing! Excellent customer service is expected. As such, employees receive extensive training to be able to offer exceptional service to valued customers.