Japan and Home - Lands of Contrast I

As you might imagine, Japan is quite different from my home in Minnesota. On this program, we're going to explore a few of the differences between them.

Stay tuned for...

Lands of Contrast!

Today, I'm going to talk about a few of the things I missed while I was in Japan.
(Edit: These aren't in any particular order. Just felt like numbering them.)

#1: Non-stick cooking spray

I simply cannot imagine a reason for not having this, a common item back in the US. It's incredibly useful when you're cooking eggs, grilled cheese, or anything else involving pans. Imagine my surprise when I was in Tokyo in 2009, and the supermarket employee looked at me like I was from the moon when I asked him where I could find it. To be fair, my Japanese was really awful back then. When I went back in 2011, I still couldn't find it! I guess when the non-stick coating on your pan starts to wear out, it's time to get a new pan? Oh well.
If this exists in Japan, I could never find it.

#2: Bagels

Oh man. Bagels. With cream cheese, peanut butter, or [insert your favorite topping here], they make the best breakfast/lunch/dinner/midnight snacks. For some reason, they just haven't really caught on in Japan, which is really unfortunate. You can find bagels in certain places, but they're few and far between. If memory serves, they're also quite expensive. And you're pretty much out of luck if you want an onion, blueberry, parmesan, or cinammon bagel. The only ones I've ever seen in Japan are plain.
Surprisingly, you can actually find cream cheese in Japan! And not just any cream cheese, but Philadelphia cream cheese, a major brand in the US. Considering the lack of bagels, I was amazed to find it in grocery stores. You can find it in larger grocery stores throughout Japan, as far as I know. Even in Hokkaido!

#3: The open countryside

Yep, this is Minnesota! Source: MINNpics

Corny, I know. In Tokyo, all you can see are buildings, people, cars, and the occasional park. Good luck finding any places with a good, open view. After a while, it just makes you feel... enclosed. Minnesota has big cities, but you never have to drive far to see more open areas. Many of the suburbs are quite open-feeling as well.
In Hokkaido, it wasn't so bad. You can find a few places in Niikappu with good views of the countryside and the ocean. Unfortunately, Niikappu lies in a valley, vastly reducing the view. I still felt enclosed. (Should've gotten a car!)

#4: Fast food takeout

While it's becoming more common in Japan, it's nowhere near as common as in the US. Most major fast food chains in the US have drive-throughs or the ability to takeout. Subway, McDonald's, Wendy's, Arby's, Culver's... the list goes on. Guess what? In Japan, it's mainly the foreign fast food chains that allow takeout. There are a few Japanese chains that allow it as well, but they can be hard to find, especially in a more rural area. I think at one point it may have been considered disrespectful to take food home. Maybe that explains the relative lack of takeout. It's nice to see that it's catching on, though!
Some places do give you carry-out boxes if you have leftover food. I've found that these are usually offered when you're eating with a large group, and order lots of food.

That ends our program today! Maybe next time I'll talk about something that's not food. (But to be fair, food is vastly different there!)

Tune in another time for another thrilling episode of...

Lands of Contrast!