Japan: A Country of Convenience

Even though the regular Spring 2015 semester is officially over, the students in Machida are only mid-way through their semester abroad! We will be sharing journal excerpts written by Spring 2015 participant Rodney McGary about his experience in Machida. Stay tuned!

Rodney McGary | Machida, Japan | Spring 2015

Well, well, well, I’ve finally made it to Tokyo after so many years of wanting to come and waiting for the right time.  Before arriving, I did a fair amount of research to get a general idea of what a foreign student’s experience might be like.  However, the thing that really impressed me within my first few days of arriving was just how convenient things are here. I’m sure many of you who are itching to come here to study have heard about the ubiquitous convenient stores, or konbinis (i.e. 7-11, Family Mart) where you can: pay utility, buy concert tickets, recycle your waste, get your food heated, etc.  At the Family Mart on Obirin’s campus, you can even use copy machines and book travel tickets! How convenient is that!? Such features birth new meaning to the word “convenient”.

Collage of different food and drink vending machines.


Aside from the konbinis, I found everyday things in the house and beyond surprisingly pleasant. For example, in the house, I was introduced to the bathtub upon arrival. The bathtub has two control panels (one in the bathroom and the other in the kitchen), which allows you to automatically start the bath water (which stops on its own too). While the bath is filling itself up, that leaves you a little extra time to tend to other things.  On the control panels, one can also control the bath temperature and depth.  After taking a hot, refreshing bath wouldn’t it be nice if you could walk straight to the bathroom mirror and see yourself clearly, without all the fog?  The bathroom mirror is equipped with both a light and an anti-fog screen! These things and countless other things have made my home experience very convenient and comfortable.

As I go about my days here I’m continually amazed at so many other conveniences, such as the countless vending machines that can be found at every train station, on nearly every street, and inside of many stores. You can never go thirsty walking around Tokyo all day. The available selections are countless (juice, sodas, coffees, energy drinks, etc) and there’s no telling what you’ll find exactly in any given machine. Sometimes it almost feels like a treasure hunt, to find drinks I have never had before. Not to mention Japanese vending machines are certainly not limited to just drinks. So far, I’ve even seen machines that dispense books! What’s more, many vending machines at train stations accept payment via transit card (i.e. Suica Card) with just a simple tap on the card reader. This feature isn’t only available for vending machines, but at convenience stores too. One day I went to Chuo University to visit a friend and decided to eat lunch in the cafeteria. Little did I know that my Suica Card could be used to pay for my dish at a vending machine that’s right at the entrance, which then dispenses a ticket, then you take that ticket to the appropriate counter to pick up your order. This method greatly expedites the process, eliminating long lines and other inconveniences. Who knew paying for cafeteria food could be so quick and easy?

Thus far, I’m enjoying all the convenient little quirks this country has to offer. I certainly look forward to discovering even more cool things here during the semester.