Now that I’ve finally recounted my not so recent trips to Japan, I want to talk about some differences I noticed between Japan and Korea. Disclaimer: On the off chance there’s someone reading this blog that I’m not related to, I’m not saying one country is better than the other, or that I know all there is to know about either country. I genuinely like both countries. I’m simply making observations. Please don’t send me hate mail.
Now that that’s over with, here goes:
1. We were really surprised by how little English we came across in Japan. In Korea, it’s everywhere. You can get along pretty easily with knowing little to no Korean. But in Japan, we found ourselves struggling a couple of times.
2. The Japanese respect the queue much more than Koreans. And personal space in general. It’s one of my pet peeves in Korea, but I have to go with it because I know I’m just a visitor in their country. But it makes me NUTS. It was nice not to have any ajummas mowing me down or standing so close to me in line that I can feel their breath on the back of my neck.
3. The subway system in Korea is much more user friendly than in Japan (and cheaper!). The subway lines in Korea are all owned by one company and you can get from one side of the city to the other quite easily and painlessly. But in Japan, there are several subway lines that have different owners and transferring can be a bit tricky. It can be very confusing because certain lines only take certain tickets/cards. And the name or color of the lines doesn’t always match up with the name or color on the subway map. This caused us trouble on more than one occasion.
4. We really enjoyed the diverse architecture in Japan. In Korea, many buildings (and even cities) look really similar. Giant grey buildings looming all around. Apartment blocks everywhere, but seldom an actual house. Most of the buildings are fairly modern. In Japan, it was really refreshing to see an array of buildings in many different styles and from many different time periods.
5. In Japan taxis are stupid expensive and in Korea they are stupid cheap. Although we noticed a lot of the taxi drivers in Japan spoke English decently and tended to be more friendly than Korean taxi drivers.
6. In Korea, make-up shops abound. Every major street will have not one, but likely 4-5 different make-up chains. I could probably name 10 different chains off the top of my head. The make-up is usually pretty inexpensive, good quality and has adorable packaging. The best part is, they always give you free samples. And the more you buy, the more free samples you get. It’s one of my favorite things about Korea. So I was really excited to visit Japan to see what they had to offer in that department. To my disappointment, Japan does not have the same make-up culture as Korea. I didn’t see any independent make-up shops and purchased no make-up. *sobs*
I am sure there are many more differences than these six, but what I’ve mentioned is what The Brit and I noticed in our short time visiting Japan. I was inspired to write this post by a video posted on Eat Your Kimchi (my favorite Korea based vloggers). They did a joint vlog with a girl named Rachel who lives in Japan but has visited Korea several times. It was interesting to hear their different perspectives. If you’re interested in checking out what they have to say, here is Eat Your Kimchi’s vlog about it, and here is Rachel & Jun’s vlog.