Photo: URAIWONS/Shutterstock

12 American Habits I Lost in Tokyo

by C-M "Spike" Daeley May 12, 2015

My fear of getting lost.

My first visit to Tokyo was a sensory overload unlike any I’d ever experienced. The sheer bombardment of sights, sounds and smells coupled with the labyrinthine train system are enough to give even an expert gamer synesthesia. I honestly never thought I was going to be able to get around a monstro-megalopolis like this.

It took me a few months (and a ton of mistakes) to get some semblance of my bearings, but I eventually realized that even if I did get horribly lost, I could usually find another train stop, a bus, or a helpful local to get me back on a track. Nowadays, getting lost is just another part of the experience, and almost always leads to an interesting story.


Tokyo’s train system might as well be considered one of the man-made wonders of the world. Imagine over a hundred lines all operating in relative harmony, transporting an estimated 20 million people daily. AND they’re almost always ON TIME! Honestly, who needs a car?

Being picky.

There’s just too much good food in this city. Cold noodles? GIMME. Grilled chicken livers? YUM. Raw sea urchin? MORE PLEASE. Chocolate takoyaki (battered octopus with chocolate)? GET IN MY MOUTH!

Customizing orders.

At a restaurant in America, I’d usually politely send an order back if it wasn’t to my specification. In Tokyo, the thought of customizing my meal never really occurs to me. That said, I will sometimes check ingredients for friends who are allergic or have religious dietary restrictions.

Casual work clothes.

On the plus side, I now have a use for all those ties I get at Christmas.

Personal space.

The population of the Greater Tokyo area is ALMOST DOUBLE that of my home state of Washington. That means crowds. Everywhere. ALL THE TIME. During yesterday’s commute, I could feel the heartbeat of the guy next to me…because my elbow was jammed halfway into his left ventricle.


If I can’t cook it on one burner (two if I’m lucky), I’ll just have to do without. Leopalaces ain’t got space for no damn oven.

Being loud.

With all the noise and stimuli surrounding me at any given moment, my personal response has been to be a bit more reflective and to focus more on my immediate surroundings. It definitely helps me process things without feeling so drained.

Watching TV.

When I’m in America, the tv is usually on as white noise. Here, all I want when I come home is quiet or maybe a little music.

Collecting things.

Everything I own here fits into two suitcases, with extra space if needed. Now I spend money on experiences instead of things.

Drinking soda.

Without ready access to root beer or my trusty Reed’s ginger ale, I’ve had to settle for good old green tea. Can’t say I’m complaining, the tea here is tops.

Sleeping in a bed.

Most beds are bigger than my apartment. I’m now a proud futon-lover and my back has never felt better.

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