While making the decision on whether on not to move to Japan, I spent a lot of energy researching the lifestyle, country and culture. Through LinkedIn I reached out to my Asian colleagues and teed up a number of phone calls with friends of friends to discuss their expat assignments in Japan and of course, I read.
One theme that kept coming up about Japan is how safe it is. I had one executive relate how he would ride the subway in the morning and find it so odd to see a 4 year old by themselves on the way to school, Hello Kitty backpack and all. Another explained how when she landed back in North America she would sit her kids down and say “Now remember, we are not in Japan anymore. Stay close, don’t talk to strangers and don’t leave anything on a chair because you won’t get it back or someone will snatch it”, whereas in Japan if you leave your laptop on the subway there is an almost 100% probability that you will get it back from lost and found. Good luck getting anything back on a Toronto subway.
Consider these stats, remember that the US has 330M people, Japan has 128M, UK has 60M and Canada has 32M people. Very eye opening.
This is just one of the many element of culture that interested/surprised me as I read about our new home. In another conversation, I spoke with an executive who had lived in London and in Tokyo, as we had and in a laughing voice he stated “Japan will ruin you forever with regard to customer service. There is nothing like Japan. Remember how it was in the UK – take the exact opposite and that is Japan – the repairman doesn’t give you an 8 hour window to arrive and show up two days late, they give you a 30 minute window and arrive at that time, and the trains all run on time without fail”.
Thanks to the information age, expat/culture websites abound and the number of books on the topic are only limited to how much time you have. Personally, the thing that I loved the most about the UK is the nuances and differences. The time to experience the Japanese nuances approaches. Camera ready.