I lived in Japan for a total of 10 years and left the country for good at the end of 2006. There are many things which I still miss about Japan and just seeing images on television or on the internet makes me sometimes want to go back.
Not everything was great though, living in Japan, so here is a list of the things which I miss and don't miss about living in the country.
The things I miss:
Transportation: The public transportation of Japan would have to be the one of the world's best. (If there is a better country please let me know). It is safe, clean, punctual and plentiful. You can travel to almost any corner of the country by train. The only downside is that the trains finish running too early (around midnight) but then again this could be a good thing to keep people from staying out too late so they can still make it to work the next day.
Convenience: Japan has thousands of convenience stores all over the country. At convenience stores you can buy alcohol, movie tickets, book accommodation, post parcels, withdraw money. Prices are also fairly competitive. Shops are open late almost every night of the week. There are places to eat, drink and sing karaoke literally everywhere.
Service: Japanese believe strong that the 'customer is king'and the'customer is always right'. Japanese however rarely complain in public. I remember once when I took a coin jar to the bank, and they didn't even flinch when I asked them to deposit it into my account. The bank teller even asked if I wanted my empty coffee jar bank and gave me back a few foreign coins that had slipped into the jar.
Internet speed: Japan, along with South Korea has the fastest internet speeds in the world. Even in expensive Japan, prices are pretty reasonable.
Safety: Japan has to be one of the safest countries in the world. Of course heinous crimes are reported every so often in the news, they are an exception. It is not uncommon to see elementary aged school kids traveling on the train themselves.
Honesty: Japan is still a very wealthy country, so it is rare that you will ever be "ripped off" as you might in other countries. I cannot ever remember being short changed and once even a taxi driver apologized for taking a long route and gave me a discount on the fare.
Things I don't miss:
ATMs: ATMSs are slowly moving to 24-hour modes of operation, the operating hours vary too much between each machine to make them reliable. Some will close at 5 pm for example on Saturdays and Sundays. Most ATMs also don't accept foreign debit or credit cards.
Some things are just ridiculously expensive: Not everything is expensive in Japan and Tokyo may even be cheaper to live than London or New York, but some things defy exception. The move in cost for an apartment is approximately 6 months which you have to pay in advance, only a fraction of which will then be returned when you leave the apartment.
Also, most leases are for two years and if you wish to extend your contract, you need to pay a full month's rent for the privilege. Outside of Tokyo however, things get a little cheaper, but unless you want to teach English, Tokyo is the place to find the best jobs in Japan.
People and crowds: Tokyo is one of the most populated and busiest cities in the world. Japan has some of the greatest firework shows in the world, but trying to get home from them can be ridiculous.
Everyone in Japan tends to take holidays around the same time, Obon, Golden Week and New Years. It is often almost impossible to get plane or train tickets around that time. If you can get tickets, they can be three or four times the usual price.
Working hours: People in Japan work extremely long hours. They stay at their office even if they don't have much work to do. Work and the company is often more important to Japanese people than their friends and family.
Japan is a great country and Japanese people are some the most honest and friendly people you will ever meet. I had a great time in the 10 years I spent there, but the longer I spent in the country the more stressed I felt with work and the crowds of people. I hope to go back some day, even just for a short holiday.