Just so you know, most of this article will be about toilets and train stations.
1. Machines that pour beers for you like this, so younever have to wait for a beer at a bar.
2. Katsu sandwiches that look like this.
That’s right. Chicken or pork katsu. In sandwiches. Bury me now. I am done.
3. Shirts and pants from 7-Eleven stores, so you never have to experience the look of the “walk of shame”.
Wearing a new shirt after a night out means that you can go home feeling like death while looking so elegant.
4. Thousands and thousands of 7-Eleven stores that have ATMs and even T-O-I-L-E-T-S inside.
There are more than 18,000 7-Eleven stores in Japan, which is more than twice the number in the United States. Yes, really.
And the fact that many of them contain toilets means that you never have to go to a coffee shop and pretend that you actually want a coffee when you don’t want a coffee, you just want a piss. It is wonderful.
5. Hot towels (oshibori) that are given out at the start of every single meal, just so you can wipe your hands.
In other countries you’re normally given them at the start of your flight if you’re flying in business class. In Japan it feels like you’re in business class at all times.
6. Vending machines that serve hot and cold drinks.
There are more than 5 million of these machines in Japan, which is insane. And there aren’t separate cold and hot vending machines – they come from the same machine.
7. Vending machines that come with a defibrillator or emergency equipment inside as standard.
They aren’t in every machine, but what a neat idea.
8. Bikes racks that ANY bike can lock into.
No need to hire out a potentially expensive city bike to get from A to B. Just lock in your own. And these bike locks are free to use too.
9. Underground gates that close only if you don’t tap your card on the reader first.
In cities like London, the gates open only after you have tapped on the reader and remain closed the rest of the time.
Why is this boring fact important? Well, think about it. The doors constantly closing and opening at the entrance and exit of the underground can lead to so many delays waiting at the gate, even if everyone queuing in front of you is paying with the correct fare. The fact that they stay open means that you’re barely delayed at all.
10. Rail payment cards you can use in McDonald’s.
And not just McDonald’s – you can use your transport card in many shops and restaurants. You can even use it in different cities. Even though each city in Japan has a rail card system, the cards all work in one another’s systems.
11. McDonald’s deliveries to your work and home.
It’s not *everywhere* in Japan, but in some cities you can just download the app, choose your lunch…and boom – hangover cure to your door.
12. Hundreds of TV shows consisting of people making dinner and comments by people watching these people making dinner.
Sometimes every channel seems to be airing a show that consists of this format. The people commenting are usually back in a studio or are shown in a box in the corner of the screen while a chef talks and eats food in a kitchen. It’s wonderful.
For British readers, I can describe this only as 24-hour foodie Gogglebox.
13. Queues for trains and ATMs that look like this.
YES, THIS MIGHT LOOK BORING, but it means that nobody is looking over your shoulder and people can get on and off public transportation without that painful pushing and shoving because nobody knows who is first.
Every single train station also has its own jingle – for when the train is about to arrive or depart.
14. Seats on trains that can switch direction if you prefer to sit, or not sit, with your mates.
It doesn’t work, of course, if the people behind you are sitting on the seat, mind.
15. Lockers of all shapes and sizes at every station.
Especially useful for travellers, you can store whatever you want for about 500 yen (£2.60/$4) every 24 hours. Many other countries don’t have the nerve to do this.
By the way, you can’t store corpses in them :/
Or explosives. Please make a note of that.
16. Toilets that can do this when you enter the room.
Not necessarily what is depicted in The Simpsons, but they can open to say hello. This can feel weirdly intimidating at first, but you get used to it.
There’s even a button on the wall that can lower the seat – so you never have to do it by hand.
17. Toilets that play sound effects like running water to disguise the sound of you on the toilet.
The first time you experience a Japanese toilet, you end up playing with all of the buttons, which include bidets and fans that immediately dry your bottom. Even public toilets have them installed, so you see buttons like this quite often.
18. And a train that is covered in cartoon dogs and features a carriage with a ball pit and a library.
It’s called the Aso Boy! and it runs between Kumamoto and Miyaji (Aso).
The ball pit and the library are for children, by the way.
THE LIBRARY AND BALL PIT ARE FOR THE CHILDREN. AND NOT ADULTS.