Thoughts on Returning to Australia

It’s been just over a year since I left Japan.  It had been six years since I had lived in Japan.  Since it’s Australia Day, I thought it was a good opportunity to list some of the differences I’ve noticed in returning to Australia.

Things That Have Changed in Australia:

  • Things are a lot more expensive. (Yes, I know that’s how inflation works).  For example, the apartment I’m renting in Melbourne is smaller and a lot more expensive than the the one I was renting in Osaka.
  • Melbourne seems to have  a preponderance of shops dedicated solely to ugg boots.  I can’t remember encountering any ugg boot only stores last time I was here.
  • Half the population seems to be gluten intolerant now.  (I hadn’t come across anyone who was gluten intolerant pre-2004).
  • My local supermarket now has self-service checkout lanes.  They’re a pain to use.  You have to scan things yourself and the machines attempt to judge the accuracy by weighing the bags.  Almost every time, I’ve had to get an assistant to reset the machine because something has gone wrong.
  • Internet speeds and download limits are a lot better than before.  (Still more than 5 years behind Japan, but a big improvement on last time I was in Australia).

Things That Haven’t Changed in Australia (But I notice because I have changed):

  • Melbourne’s public transport sucks.
  • There are still a lot of racists in Australia.  (Given Australia’s history, it’s particularly galling to hear Australians complain about boat people.)
  • A lot of people talk on their mobile phones on their trains.  (After being in Japan, I now found this particularly annoying).

Things I Miss About Japan: (Other than my friends in Japan):

  • All of the cool places: the shrines, temples, ninja towns, monkey hot springs.
  • The daily encounters with strange things.
  • Lots of food: 551 Horai Shumai, Chibo Okonomiyaki, Izakayas (Melbourne has some izakayas that are all right).

Things In Melbourne That Remind Me of Japan:

  • Within a 15-minute walk of my apartment in Melbourne there are 4 or 5 sushi restaurants and another half dozen or so Japanese restaurants.
  • The communal laundry in my apartment has a sign up reading: “Someone has stolen my underwear again!  Beware of the pervert.”
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