Differences between America and Japan

Vending Machines

One of the most interesting differences between Japan and America was in the difference in food and drink selection, epitomized in the vending machines. In American vending machines, the selection is usually around 90% soda with the rest being energy drinks, water, lemonade, etc. On the other hand, most Japanese vending machines didn’t include any soda at all, opting instead for green tea, coffee, electrolyte drinks, and water. It was such a stark difference. I believe that this selection is one of the reasons why Japanese are so much healthier than Americans.


Driving in Japan is nowhere near as prevalent as it is in America. For example, most Japanese roads had no parking on the sides; and parking lots could usually only fit a handful of cars. Most Japanese cars were about half the size of American cars and looked cubic. Also, many Japanese roads were narrow with no sidewalks. Finally, drive-through fast food restaurants were non-existent.


A big part of Japanese culture is maintaining proper manners and customs. Japanese society is founded on a lot of unwritten rules. If you break some of these rules, it is hard to tell outside of some disapproving looks. For example, you are not supposed to eat or drink on buses and trains; and there is generally an expectation of quietness on these vehicles. Another unwritten rule is that you give a brief bow if passing in front of someone too closely as a way of excusing your blocking their path.

In America, it’s perfectly acceptable to talk to shopkeepers and other strangers with small talk (“how are you?” is a common example of this). In Japan, this type of conversation is very rare since most Japanese value their privacy and social distinctions. On that note, there is a more strict social hierarchy in Japan as there are special words, phrases, and manners of speech that you must follow when speaking to superiors and vice versa. In America, there are some similar rules, but to a much lesser extent.