- What Do They Have in Japan but You Hardly See at All in Australia? - Part 1
The clear umbrellas they sell at convenience stores
In Japan, whenever it rains you can easily buy a plastic umbrella at a convenience store at a reasonable price. Clear plastic umbrellas don’t block your view, so they are really handy in Japan’s crowded places. But you hardly ever see a clear plastic umbrella in Australia. If they did have them, they would be the big umbrellas that in Japan you use for golf and so on. In the first place, Australians don't use their umbrellas if it’s only raining a bit. There might be more people in the city centers of Sydney and Melbourne who use an umbrella, but on the Gold Coast where I live, most people get around in a car, and you don't see many of them walking around with an umbrella. Nowadays you see folding umbrellas with lots of different fashionable patterns, but until a little while ago, they were all plain black ones or had designs like the older style Japanese ones. There are no umbrella stands at shop entrances and no plastic bags at department stores for putting your umbrella in.
The milk that comes with your coffee (Coffee Fresh)
When you order coffee in Japan, you get a portion of coffee creamer together with the sugar, but you don’t get that in Australia either. You decide whether you want milk in your coffee or not when you order, so for starters, you don’t get a coffee creamer portion you can take home. I've seen coffee creamer portions with flavors like vanilla and hazelnut in a supermarket, even so, that was just one brand and they were displayed in an inconspicuous spot at the edge of the coffee section, which made it feel as though they’re being left by the wayside a bit. I think there might be very few people who know that they are actually available.
In Japan, mechanical pencils are commonplace. I think probably more people use a mechanical pencil than an ordinary pencil, but in Australia it’s the opposite. People here use either a ballpoint pen or an ordinary pencil. Very few people use a mechanical pencil. You have to go to a place like Officeworks, a major stationery chain, or a specialist stationery store to get one. I think retail stores only sell ordinary pencils and ballpoint pens. In fact, mechanical pencils and even refills are expensive.
There are no bellybands in Australia because they don’t have the custom here of warming your feet and stomach, as Japanese people do. In summer, they keep the air-conditioning very cold, and they even have the air-conditioning in buses on in winter, so either more people are sensitive to heat, or maybe people’s body temperatures themselves are higher than in Japanese people. If you were to tell someone you're wearing a bellyband, they might wonder why you’re warming your stomach. As well as bellybands, they don't sell five-toed socks.
City bicycles (mamachari)
In Japan, you see people riding bicycles everywhere, but in Australia, they don’t have as many bicycles as in Japan. First of all, unlike in Japan, you get a fine if you don't wear a helmet when riding a bicycle in Australia and you’re caught. Plus, the bicycles that you do see around the place aren’t the type that are easy for elderly people and women to ride, like the mamachari (classic shopping bicycle with basket) in Japan, you only see mountain bikes and beach cruisers, a type of bike with big thick tires, so you don’t have the ease of a bike for just popping out to the shops. Helmets are cumbersome, people don’t like wearing them anyway, and bicycle parking isn’t up to the standard in Japan.
Washlet (electronic bidet) toilets
In Japan, toilets everywhere, from ordinary homes to restaurants and department stores, have a Washlet, but you don’t see them in Australia. Plus, there are no heated toilet seats. When you ask Australians who have been to Japan, “How was Japan?” everyone always says, “The Washlets and the toilets where the lid opens by itself in Japan are amazing!” Sometimes at the airport you see people coming back from Japan with a Washlet. Apparently, there are importers who sell Washlets, but only a very few ordinary homes have them, and you virtually never see them in public toilets.
Hot canned drinks
First of all, there aren’t that many vending machines in Australia and most of the canned drinks are soda drinks. You can’t get hot canned drinks like canned coffee or tea, so Australians who go to Japan may be surprised by the hot canned coffee or corn soup.
Smelling the scent of anti-mosquito incense reminds me of summer in Japan. I think in the past, homes everywhere in Japan had anti-mosquito incense in the shape of a coil. Anti-mosquito incense is not very common in Australia. You see a lot of mosquito repellent sprays that you spray onto your skin, and there are candle-type ones and stick shaped ones like incense for outdoor use. I think Westerners just don’t get bitten by mosquitos as much as Japanese people. I don't see many plump, swollen bite marks, and if Westerners and Japanese are in a place where mosquitoes come out, it’s usually the Japanese person who gets bitten by a mosquito.
I've listed a few things here that I could think of, but I will probably think of quite a few more, so I’m going to try writing a second part. On the other hand, there are some things in Australia that you hardly ever see in Japan, so I'll write about them too another time.