10 things one Japanese expat is always sure to stock up on when returning to Japan

Any expat, exchange student, or anybody who has otherwise spent a long period of time abroad will tell you that, while the local food is exciting and fun and delicious for a while, eventually you’ll start to experience intense urges for the comfort foods and products of your native land. For some, these urges may be occasional, mild pangs, but for many, the urges are so strong they can’t resist stocking up on boxes and boxes full of their favorite items from home every time they head back.

Recently, a Japanese female expat who has been living in America for years introduced our sister site to the top 10 items that she likes to stock up on when she visits Japan:

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Super Mega Important Debate: Do you shower before work or before bed? 【Poll closed】

In Japan, the majority of people bathe at night before going to bed. Even if they don’t stick to the traditional routine of rinsing off before soaking in a hot bath, most Japanese find the idea of climbing into bed without having at least hopped in the shower first supremely icky – almost as icky as walking around your home while wearing your outdoor shoes.

In the west, however, many of us prefer to shower before leaving the house in the morning. No matter how well you slept the night before, the thought of not washing prior to putting on work clothes and heading out for the day seems pretty gross to most of us.

So for this week’s Super Mega Important Debate, we’re asking you to answer this one simple question: Do you bathe before bed or before work each morning?

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Survey asks Japanese people where they’d most like to “live” after death

Whenever people ask me what I want to happen after I die, I always tell them I want a Super Mario-themed funeral where, at the end of the ceremony, the Mario death music plays and my casket is launched a few feet up in the air, then allowed fall down into the earth. I’ve always thought that would be a pretty cool way for friends and family to send me off, but the actual location of the funeral – or even really what happened to my body afterwards – has never been all that important to me.

Westerners have surprisingly little ritual when it comes to death. There’s usually a wake or a funeral, and then, if you’re lucky, every couple of years Solid Snake comes by to stand in front of your grave, look grim and deliver a two-hour monologue about the horrors of war. The Japanese, on the other hand, make a point to visit and pay respects to the dead every year through somewhat ritualized ohakamairi, so the location of your grave is an important thing to consider.

So important, apparently, that specialty online grave retailer Ohakamagokorokakaku (“ohakamago”) is considering offering a service to move the graves of loved ones, and recently conducted a survey among Japanese people asking: “Where would you most like to ‘live’ after death?”

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“Common habits of Japan’s low earners”: What this survey tells us, and what it doesn’t

A survey out this week asked 200 salarymen – office workers in Japan – about their work and lifestyle habits. The findings have been reported in the Japanese media under headlines such as “The bad habits of low earners” and “People on a low income pee in the bath – but why?!”

But this kind of survey tells us more about the survey creator’s attitude towards low-income citizens, than it does about the employees who answered it.

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Gogatsu-byou: The “sickness” that strikes Japan each and every May

As well as being the start of the new business and academic year, April in Japan also marks the time when new graduates make their first forays into the world of full-time employment and many companies rotate their staff both to keep them on their toes and help them acquire new skills. It’s a fun, frenetic time of year, and everyone from kids in their new school uniforms to fresh-faced employees wearing crisp, black suits looks tremendously smart and presentable as they hurry to their place of education or employment, eager to make the most of their day.

In May, however, it all comes crashing down. Reality sets in and people start to realise that everything is just as awful as it was before, albeit with a few quirks and a shiny new name badge or lunchbox. The fire in kids’ bellies goes out, the twinkle disappears from new employees’ eyes, and they start to approach their work with all the enthusiasm of a pot-smoking snail going through a serious emo phase.

This, dear reader, is gogatsu-byou; the phenomenon that occurs every May and affects millions of Japanese to some degree or other.

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Survey reveals that secretaries in Japan say ‘no’ to these types of husband

Rakuten Research has released the results of an online poll about the kinds of men women in Japan do not want to marry, and as a result the heads of lonely trolls are exploding all over Japan.

Collating results from 100 female secretaries between the ages of 30 and 49, the survey had three possible answers for each prompt: “I’d be OK with marrying him,” “I’d be hesitant to marry him,” and “I absolutely would not marry him.” Only the 10 list of undesirable traits in potential husbands were published, and only three qualify as being so bad that the respondents said there’s no way they’d marry them.

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You know you’ve been in Japan too long when…

So you’ve been living, lounging, working, or studying in Japan for a while now. The feelings of homesickness you first experienced are but a distant memory, and whenever you Skype with your family, you unconsciously use the word “home” to refer to your place in Japan rather than your home country. Not only that, you can finally navigate the Tokyo Metro without getting flustered, barely even notice when a girl dressed in kimono passes you in the street, and you think nothing of visiting a convenience store two or three times a day, sometimes just to flick through the magazines.

But what about all of the things you do unconsciously or that seem so normal to you now but would make you stop and stare back home? Today, we bring you a list of 10 moments that, if and when they happen to you, you can safely say, “Wow, I’ve been in Japan too long.”

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Japanese women share 10 reasons why they take so (so, so) long in the bathroom

It’s a question that has tormented men for generations. As we wait outside the bathroom dying for a pee or needing to shower, shave, or brush our teeth; as we sit alone in restaurants busying ourselves with our mobile phones, worried that people will think our dates have simply given up on us and gone home; as we stand around shopping malls holding shopping bags while our wives, girlfriends, or female friends “run to the restroom for a second” and are nowhere to be seen for what seems like aeons, the question on our minds is always the same: What, in the name of sweet baby Jesus and his shepherd pals, are women doing in the bathroom that could possibly take so, so long?

Finally, we have some answers in the form of a series of 10 surprisingly frank quotes direct from the women of Japan, as gathered by popular Japanese website Naver Matome. If you’ve ever wondered why girls spend so long in the bathroom, this may prove to be enlightening reading.

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One for the guys: 3 gross habits to shake before moving in with someone

Relationships are something that have to be worked at rather than simply hoping will go well and complaining about when they’re not everything we dreamed. That honeymoon period where you’re first getting to know your partner and learning one another’s little quirks is fun and exciting alright, but it eventually ends and before you know it you’re having to think about things like whose turn it is to hang out the laundry or clean the sink.

One thing that really puts relationships to the test is whether two people can stomach one another’s little habits and quirks. Sharing your home means letting your partner see you at your most natural, rather than just freshly showered, shaved and looking good for dates. Farting in your sleep, trimming your toenails, popping off to the bathroom for a number two; these things all have to be done and there’s no way of hiding them forever. But there are certain behaviours that we all really ought to get in check before signing a lease on an apartment or agreeing to cohabit, as exhibited by the following three tales from gentlemen (and we use the term loosely) in Japan…

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Survey reveals that Japan’s kids would rather bake cakes and score goals than cure illnesses

Kids’ hopes and dreams for the future can change from one minute to the next and very often depend on the TV shows they watch and whatever their friends are talking about on any given week. But a recent survey conducted by human resource consulting company Adecco has revealed some interesting information about the future aspirations of children from Japan compared to those of kids from other eight other Asian countries.

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“Extreme going to work” looks to change the way business is done in Japan

Ever consider going having a meal with friends or watching a movie on your way to work? While many of us can’t help reaching for the snooze button in the morning, there is a growing number of people who are waking up hours earlier and having a social life before they go to work.

The movement is called Extreme Shussha (extreme going to work) and as of this summer it has been getting increasingly popular in Japan. The rules are simple: Don’t be late for work; don’t bother anyone; and don’t fall asleep when you get there. Beyond that you can do whatever your heart desires.

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Pop quiz, fellas! You’re standing on the street and a very attractive woman is walking across a subway grate when, wouldn’t you know it, a gust of wind blows her skirt up revealing her underwear. Would you consider this an especially good day?

If you answered “yes” then guess what? You’re old!

At least that’s what a survey conducted by a Japanese erotic game company is suggesting, and I’m inclined to trust them since their livelihoods depend on this kind of info.

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10 things Japan gets horribly wrong

It should come as no surprise to our readers to hear that we’re big fans of Japan. Pretty much everything here works as it should, the food is amazing, the culture rich, and people are on the whole likeable and friendly. But there are times when Westerners, and Japanese who have spent any amount of time abroad for that matter, realise that Japan gets some things not just wrong but horribly wrong.

So join us after the jump as we redress the balance no doubt offset by our constant admiration of Japan by discussing the 10 little things that drive us nuts in this otherwise great country.

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Uphill both ways: Japanese kids weigh in on the difficulties of the past, adults just laugh

“Well, when I was a kid…” is often one of the worst things to hear someone begin a sentence with at a family gathering, isn’t it? Inevitably what follows is half-remembered, half-exaggerated grouching about how easy kids have it these days with their Cell Boys and Game Phones. Unless you’re starting to get old, like us, and then you’re the one grousing!

But either way, it’s been long-established that kids these days have it far too easy–so easy in fact that they can’t help feeling bad for their counterparts of days gone by. Curious as to what the current crop of children thought must have been worst about being a kid a long time ago, someone decided to conduct a survey! We’re sure it’s probably not scientifically accurate, but the results were almost as entertaining as the response on Twitter!

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Japanese customers are raving about a bath mat made from soil

This bath mat is so popular that it’s sold out on many of its retail websites. The reason for its popularity? It’s said to feel so good and absorb moisture so well that it surpasses anything that’s come before it. Oh, and it’s made entirely from soil.

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Not your average game of hide-and-seek: Japanese kids go high-tech!

Although some kids’ games will always be more popular in certain parts of the world than others – rock, paper, scissors is probably played more times in a single day in Japan than in the U.S. each year, for example – there are a handful of classics that kids all across the globe enjoy equally, one of them being hide-and-seek.

According to chatter between Japanese Twitter users, however, the classic game of hide-and-seek is evolving in the digital age, and where once the game was all about speed, stealth and cleverly planted decoys, mobile technology now has a role.

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5 ways for foreign girls to attract Japanese guys

Wandering around Tokyo it’s not at all unusual to see foreign men with Japanese girlfriends, but it’s much rarer to see foreign women with Japanese men. Some people think that foreign girls simply aren’t into Japanese guys, but when Japanese site Madame Riri checked out some English-language websites and forums, they found that there were plenty of girls out there who were interested in Japanese men, they just didn’t know how to go about bagging one.

On the forums of a Japanese culture site aimed at foreigners there were plenty of threads with titles such as “Are Japanese guys not interested in white girls?” and “How can I get a Japanese boyfriend?” These girls were all wanting to discuss how to make themselves appealing to Japanese men, and thankfully they were treated to a handful of great tips for how to do just that from one especially worldly-wise love expert.

Read on for five ways to get a Japanese guy.

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Swank is key! Most young Japanese part-timers wish they worked at Starbucks

Japan has a few really helpful resources for those in search of jobs. Besides their useful Hello Work program, they have a very popular website and magazine called an, publicized by pop idol Kyary Pamyu Pamyu herself. The site lets you search want ads and find places that are hiring in your area and field of expertise. In particular, a lot of college students and people new to the workforce turn to an for help finding employment.

an recently conducted a survey of first-time part-timers to try to find out what places are happenin’ in the modern world of fresh-faced young workers. The results were interesting, to say the least. Who knew how many people longed to become a Starbucks barista??

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“Smoking Café” last oasis for increasingly ostracized Tokyo smokers

Japan has a long way to go when it comes to eliminating the public health hazards associated with smoking, but recent public policy efforts have caused a serious change in attitude toward smokers.

Smoking sections in restaurants and cafes are becoming smaller and increasingly more isolated, while fleets of bike-mounted enforcers hand out humiliating fines to those caught smoking on designated no smoking streets.

Finally, however, smokers can indulge in their pastime in peace at the Koshigaya Laketown shopping mall in Saitama Prefecture. A new specialized café, Smoking Café Briquet, caters specifically to tobacco connoisseurs with a variety of smoking merchandise and cigar and cigarette selections, with every seat in the house safe to light up in. It’s almost like being a character in Kaze Tachinu

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Five things that keep Japanese people chained to their jobs

Japanese workers are famous for their seemingly inexhaustible dedication to their companies and ability to work long, long hours. Japanese even has a specific word for death from overwork: karōshi (過労死). But is this work ethic something that Westerners ought to admire, or is Japan in need of a holiday?

Japan Today asked foreigners “Why do you think Japanese work such long hours?” and received a huge amount of comments from people who had experienced life in a Japanese company. The responses were overwhelmingly negative about the Japanese work ethos, and many believe a shift in attitudes towards work right across society is necessary. Five points in particular stood out as particularly problematic.

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