One of the questions that those who live here in Japan get asked the most is: “What is especial about Japan?” I’ve always been very reluctant to answer this question with a clear cut answer.
Today I’m going to attempt to answer it by observing details that make my life easier and more confortable than in other places. These might all seem very simple and even irrelevant but I believe all these details together liberate my life from many daily “stresses”.
1) Preinstalled easy to connect lamp jacks – 埋込ローゼット（耳付）ひっかけシーリング Hikkake shiringu mimitsuke
Last week my friend Rodrigo reminded me of Hikkake shiringu mimitsuke 埋込ローゼット（耳付）, something I have taken for granted after being living here for so long. The first time I found myself without a lamp in a newly rented place in Japan I freaked out. “Oh, no! Now I need a drill and learn how to hang a lamp…” I thought… but it turn out to be so easy.
There is a standard in Japan for lamp jacks that is installed in all homes. And all lamps are ready to be plugged in these (without drills, and even without a screwdriver).
These are “plug and play”… you just stick the lamp in the “埋込ローゼット（耳付）ひっかけシーリング Hikkake shiringu mimitsuke” , you rotate it and you are ready to go!
I wish this would be a standard everywhere in the world. This as a picture of a 埋込ローゼット（耳付）ひっかけシーリング Hikkake shiringu mimitsuke in my current home in Tokyo.
This is a well known Japan only thing (Maybe not anymore, since washlets are starting be exported to other places in the world). Washlets have many features that you might like/dislike, for me the most important feature of the washlet is its “ability” to keep itself clean in a much easier way than a “traditional” toilet. Also, when you use it in winter, the cover is warm! I’m reminded of this every time I go back to Spain in winter…
3) Mosquito nets in all windows
This is another one that I started taking for granted. Mosquito nets are considered a must in almost all windows in Japan. In other places in Asia these are also widely used but I have found that for example in Europe most of the times the only option is to keep our windows closed.
Most houses in Japan are designed in a way that there is not a single whole by which bugs can enter even if you open the windows (And keep the extra net window closed).
4) Vending machines
There are 2,4 million beverage vending machines in Japan (With a population of 125 million people). Source: http://www.j-sda.or.jp/sp/qa_view.php?id=5&cat=7
It is a great relieve to know that almost anywhere in you go in Japan there will be vending machines with drinks. The density and variety of vending machines is almost unbelievable.
5) Delivery mailboxes for Amazon/E-commerce boxes
What happens if I’m at home in Spain and I order something online? I have to be at home when the delivery arrives and if I’m not I will have to call and arrange a different delivery time etc. In most of Japanese apartment buildings there are numbered mailboxes at the entrance with enough space to store boxes. You don’t need to be at home when the delivery person arrives with your package.
When you go back home you can open the mailbox that has been assigned to your delivery (with a number) and extract your online shopping from it.
6) Underfloor heating – Yukadan 床暖
Underfloor heating is becoming a standard of any decent home in Japanese cities. Since central heating is almost not-existent in Japan and home insulation is generally really bad, the best alternative is the installation of yukadan (underfloor heating).
Compared with other heating solutions yukadan is definitely my favorite. The air in the room generally feels better to breath than when you are using central heating or air conditioner. I also love the sensations in my feet and sitting down on the floor to read books feeling the warmth in my body.
7) Convenience Stores walking distance almost everywhere (In Cities)
Having convenience stores at walking distance is a little thing that can be life-changing. It has shifted my mindset in terms of having things at home, since I can go any time to the convenience store (I have one at one minute from my home) I don’t have many things in my kitchen. If I need anything I can just go and buy it. Another thing is that convenience stores in Japan offer all kinds of services such as remote printing (With an app in your smartphone), this allows me to not have a printer at home, one less possession/object/thing to worry about.