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Japan, the country of "Convenience", but at which price...

Japan is known for its excellent services. In every shops, or restaurant, staffs are polite, usually they are doing their job conscientiously, and everything is thought to make life easier for the customer.

Here are some examples of few things I wasn't used to when I arrived in Japan.

First of all, the Conbini:

Open 24hours, you could do almost everything there. When you buy a bentou, they will provide you the fingers towels, chopsticks, plastic spoon or plastic fork if you might need it, and they ask you if you want them to warm your bentou (or whatever) through their micro wave (because yes, another point, japanese people don't have any problem with putting plastic food contenant directly in the micro-wave..).

Then, they will automatically put your hot bentou in a plastic bag, and use a second plastic bag to separate with the other things you might have bougt (beverage, sandwich...).

They don't seems do see plastic bags as something bad. It is convenient, and it seems to be the most things!

They will give plastic bags to every clients, and if you don't want plastic bag, tell them! Do not think it is rude or something else.. yes sometimes they are surprised, and even if you are going everyday to the same convenient store, it is possible they try to give you everyday their bags, put keep going, tell them you don't need it. Maybe it might make them start to think about it, and mentality might change slowly...

Same in supermarkets. Once again, Japan is going far in the "convenience". In supermarkets, you will of course receive plastic bags to carry your goods. But after you've passed the cash register, usually there is a space dedicated for the customer, where them put their things from the cart to the plastic bags. In this space, you will probably find distributors of thinner plastic bags. Many people use it to separate their purchase. So they put the cookies pack (each cookie already have is own packaging inside the box) into a plastic bag that they will put in another plastic bag. I could understand that everyone do not have the same concern, but as a European, it makes crazy to see people doing that...

We will stay in supermarkets and speak about fruits, once again packed in their separate package. Japan is a country where many people are living alone, by their own, so individual portion is a big deal here. I get used to see apples in their kind if cute plastic protection, but seeing strawberries packed individually, it is difficult to get it.

Let's leave convenient stores and speak about restaurants now. Something I couldn't understand is why you get disposable chopsticks in some restaurants. Do we use disposable cutlery in occident when we are eating out? So yes, eating out is something more than common in the japanese culture, and yes it will probably make them gain time to do not wash it but throw it. But please... isn't it a little bit shocking?

Another thing you might have seen if you came in Japan in winter or during the rainy season, is the plastic pocket for your umbrella. On rainy days, when you enter in shops, malls, conbinis and so on, you might see those plastic pocket. So people here are putting their umbrella inside those kind of bags, so your umbrella's water doesn't finish on the slippery floor but inside this pocket. Everytime people leave the building, they trow it to the garbage prepared for, and when they are going to the next building, they take a new pocket...

When I first came to Japan, all those things that are part of the Japanese services pushed to the extreme surprised me, but more as a funny thing. Now, living with it everyday, it is something I couldn't accept anymore.I In many countries, I have the feeling that societies are taking decisions and start to move, which make us changing our way of thinking and living. So yes, sometimes it is less convenient than in the past, but I do think it is a necessity, so we need to calm down with superfluous.

When I am back to Japan after traveling to Europe, I have the worst feeling I am also traveling back in the past.

Change mentality always takes time in Japan, but I sincerely hope it won't take too much, and for that I think it is important to speak about it with japanese people.


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