Life in Japan Travel Diaries

5 Things I Miss About Japan (And 5 Things I Love About America)

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My stateside holidays are coming to an end, but it’s been a great way to detox my mind. This is my third visit to my home state of South Carolina since the birth of my little Kaiju. I’ve encountered a few challenges, which made me realize 5 things I miss about Japan (and 5 things I love about America)

5 Things I Miss About Japan

5. Bakeries & Patisseries  

Sure there’s Panera, Subway, and the bakery section at supermarkets, but it just isn’t enough. I miss everything from chain bakeries in train stations to the neighborhood bakery. I miss the temptation of pastel macaroons, delicately designed sweets, and pricey pastries covered in seasonal fruits.

Especially with my visit coinciding with Christmas, I really missed the variety of Christmas cakes. The mini cupcakes with sprinkles were cute but I think it’s time for me to admit that shortening-based frosting is not healthy. (See number 3!)

4. Smaller Portions


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Teni Wada | Baby Kaiju Blogさん(@wadateni)がシェアした投稿

This time around, I’ve been really put off by the portions. I’ve only gone out to eat once, and that was for a McDonald’s Happy Meal that I split with little Kaiju. I didn’t even bother with the drink because I always get Sokenbicha (a type of caffeine free tea) when I go to McDonald’s in Japan.

The only positive thing that I can say about the sizes here that you certainly get your money’s worth. I’ve been living off a one pound box of baby leaf salad mix for the past few weeks.

3. Kid-Friendly Foods


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Teni Wada | Baby Kaiju Blogさん(@wadateni)がシェアした投稿

My nephew often comes to visit grandma, and I was just horrified at all the super sweet and salty stuff that he has in my mom’s pantry. But the truth is, it’s all stuff that I ate and drink as a kid! Cereals, juice boxes, cookies… none of that stuff is appropriate for a growing child!

Good thing I packed plenty of little Kaiju’s favorites in preparation of our extended stay- instant rice and miso soup, furikake, seaweed chips, senbei. Still, I gave her a few festive mini cupcakes with green frosting — and it literally turned her poop green!

2. Baby-Friendly Places


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Teni Wada | Baby Kaiju Blogさん(@wadateni)がシェアした投稿

I miss the baby rooms in shopping malls and department stores that have comfortable changing beds, tables, and vending machines. Even the public restrooms in Japanese parks and train stations have appropriate (and clean!) toilets with baby changing tables and even mini-toilets and urinals.

READ: 10 Fun Things To Do In Tokyo With A Toddler

1. Reliable Public Transportation


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Teni Wada | Baby Kaiju Blogさん(@wadateni)がシェアした投稿

Despite having a Japanese driver’s license, I haven’t been able to get one over here, thanks to South Carolina’s strict ID requirements. Without a license, I’m stuck relying on my mother and sister to take me and little Kaiju around town.

I remember the freedom that I felt when I landed at Narita 14 years ago. I was amazed that I could just hop on a train and go anywhere in Japan. Getting around with a baby/toddler in a big city like Tokyo is certainly tough, but going out to cool down really helps me when I’m stressed.

READ: Navigating Tokyo While Pregnant Or With A Baby

5 Things I Love About America

5. 24-Hour Services

I’d say there’s still a bit of a stigma attached to working “at night” in Japan. But, not everyone who works at night is serving drinks or chatting up salarymen in Kabukicho.

First responders, doctors, nurses, wait staff, train station staff, etc all work irregular hours. Residents of Japan’s largest cities could definitely benefit from the extended hours, and think of all the jobs it would create.

4. Buy Online, In-Store Pickup


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Teni Wada | Baby Kaiju Blogさん(@wadateni)がシェアした投稿

I think this is a awesome concept that could really work in Japan. People tend to commute longer distances and may not be home in time to receive packages/reschedule delivery in a timely manner.  Plus, Japan Post has been talking about reducing mail delivery from 6 to 5 days a week, and delivery services like Sagawa and Kuroneko are also raising the prices of their services, too.

It’s a great service that also works as a bit of a safety precaution too: you’re living alone but don’t want to make yourself a target.

3. Incredible Variety of Products


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The sizes (and weird colors) aside, I appreciate the amazing array of food products in “big box” stores like Target and Wal-Mart. Those places truly are one-stop shopping destinations. No wonder they’re so popular, especially Target. I love getting lost in the health and beauty aisles there!

READ: Where To Buy Makeup In Japan 

2. Countless  TV Shows and Movie Channels


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These few weeks have been a wonderful opportunity to focus on the blog, my writing, Instagram, and plan new and exciting opportunities for 2019! I will admit that I’ve been also catching up on American pop culture, too.

My guilt-free pleasures are Botched (a reality show about two plastic surgeons who do corrective surgery) and Catfish (a reality show where people in online relationships find out if their partner is the real deal).

I’ve only been to the cinema once since little Kaiju was born. I rely on my FireStick and Netflix (and the occasional longhaul flight) to watch movies. When I’m not writing, I’m up late at night watching new and classic movies!

1. Selection Of Organic, Non-GMO Foods


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Teni Wada | Baby Kaiju Blogさん(@wadateni)がシェアした投稿

Going back to number three on my “5 Things That I Miss About Japan” section, one thing that I really like is the clear labeling of its organic, non-GMO products. (I guess if it’s not labeled then it’s NOT organic and likely contains GMOs?) I don’t even have to go to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. Instead, I can go to nearly any supermarket to find healthy foods. 

I get lots of my food stuffs from Oisix, an Japanese online grocery that specializes in organic, pesticide/additive free, domestically grown food. It would be great if my local supermarket had a bigger selection of these items. I’d also love it if there were more holistic and natural baby/toddler cough syrups and fever medication.

How do you deal with culture shock or homesickness?

5 Things I Miss About Japan (And 5 Things I Love About America)

READ:  Renrakucho: Communicating With Your Child’s Teachers in Japan


Tokyo-based beautyholic and content creator. Mom to a monster and a furbaby. Driven by intense wanderlust and powered by limited edition snacks and drinks from Japan.

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