Would you rather live in Japan or China?
Would you rather live in Japan or China?
Terry Newman, Ten years living and doing business in China.
I have lived four years in Japan and now almost ten in China. I do business in both, but am based in a regional city a couple of hours from Shanghai.
About the same. Japan is universally safe, but some areas of China have a higher crime rate than others. However I have never felt threatened in either. Certainly both are much safer than most Western countries. No guns to speak of and very little violent crime.
Japan every time. I have driven a lot in both, with over 300,000km in China. 700 people a day perish on Chinese roads and millions are involved in less serious accidents. It is carnage! e-bikes, which appear to operate in a separate rule-free dimension oblivious to other traffic, are a menace. Having said that I do not feel in as much danger as you may think. You must drive defensively and be very alert. If you do that you will be fine. Believe it or not I enjoy driving in China. It is a test of both skill and mental discipline.
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Japan, but have to give China points for improvement in the last ten years. Major facilities like airports are not too bad. Streets are getting better too, but largely due to an army of cleaners that picks up after a thoughtless, littering public.
No spitting in Japan, certainly not in cities, but still an issue in China. Have seen them spit on the floor in restaurants.
Public urinating still happens in China, but improving.
Do I need to answer this? In Japan pm2.5 readings hover around 20–40. In my area it averages about 120, if you believe the official numbers. Visibility is always poor. Japan generally has clear blue skies, depending on the season.
Nuclear pollution in Japan is a current problem (edit suggested by another Quoran - thank you) but unless one lives in the immediate area the effects are limited. In China nuclear plants are going to be a bigger part of the energy mix in the future, so it is not free of risk. When and if accidents happen the rapid and truthful dissemination of information is going to be vital.
Japanese grammar is more difficult for Westerners to master, but pronunciation is pretty easy. Chinese grammar is not a big problem, but listening comprehension and correct pronunciation are more difficult because the language is tonal. Chinese requires more characters to be able to read and write.
If you only speak English, Japan is better, but sometimes communication is facilitated by writing it down. They are much more competent at written than spoken English. Chinese young, educated people speak English well, but they are thin on the ground if you venture outside the developed parts of the big cities.
Japan is more friendly and open. I think in China it depends where you are and on the generation. Certainly in daily interactions with strangers the Japanese are very polite and cordial and go out of their way to be helpful and avoid giving offence. In China if you ask directions some people will be helpful, but many will give you short shrift. Buy a train ticket in China and the transaction will be perfunctory and the tickets and your change will be thrown at you without comment or eye contact.
I think deeper friendships are equally possible in both places, but it takes time.
A matter of preference. Both have good food. Ten years ago in China I couldn’t get a salad, or good coffee, but now common. Chinese food is being influenced by international travel and the internet.
Life in urban Japan is super-convenient with fantastic public transport, great shopping, wonderful service and high-quality everything. Daily life in China is an endless, tiring series of inconveniences. Things break, traffic is horrible, service is bad.
Cost of Living
Overall the cost of living in Japan is higher than China, however if you live in Beijing or Shanghai and want to own property you need to be wealthy. In the regions China is quite cheap, but then so is Japan. China is cheaper for daily necessities and basic services. In Japan the quality of everything is good, but in China it is very patchy. Prices reflect this fact. In China you get what you pay for, usually.
ing it illegal to go through an orange light - and then retracted when it is realised that it was a stupid idea. Corruption still occurs in China but it is less common than a decade ago and more sophisticated.
Doing business should be a separate post, or a book, but both have their challenges. China is much more difficult and frustrating, but also has more vitality and still more opportunity to make money for committed and capable foreigners.
Which is Better?
Perhaps the above comments will help you to decide your likely preference, but for me both are fascinating for different reasons. If I had (when I have) a steady retirement income I would choose Japan as my second home - my first being Australia. While doing business it has to be China. For all its frustrating aspects, China is the more exciting at the moment. It is going through tremendous change at breakneck speed. It is a mass of contradictions, it is dynamic, it is full of vitality, drama, even terrible injustice, but it is totally, absolutely and sometimes, exhaustingly, engaging. Japan is a developed country with developed-country issues. It is no utopia if you dig beneath the surface, but if you have modest wealth you can live a safe, healthy, civilised, gentle and convenient life. The culture is unique and fascinating and there is no excuse to be bored if you are interested in the world around you.
George Mizzell, works at Supermagnetman
Terry Newman wrote a very good answer but it kind of differs from my experiences but my experience in Tokyo was only for 10 days in December. I did not get the same feel of friendliness in Japan that I do in China. I have been to China about 10 times on work. I am usually working with power plants way out in the middle of nowhere and eat in a lot of the areas where most people have not seen anyone from America. One thing I noticed quickly was that Japan, or at least Tokyo, was virtually free of English language signage whereas almost everywhere in China - even in the middle of nowhere - street signs and a lot of store signs are in English. In my experience the Chinese people love to smile and make you feel welcome. I have probably spent more time in Xi’an and Huxian (about 35 miles away) than any other city but I have spent about 3 weeks in Beijing as well.
I love the Chinese parks and always feel quite at ease to go running or walking or just sit down and check email. On the subway and the trains in Tokyo - no one and I mean no one makes a sound. Our host quickly pointed out that Japanese consider it rude to make any sounds in public. Coming from the Southern USA that is really weird.
At first thought, Japan is a developed, clean , modern, people polite etc. Seems good. But to stay there for long term, I feel the country is not very outward looking, people are moulded in the same way and they have many rules and daily etiquette that must be followed. Design , concepts …all are very pretty and nice, but its all the same. Public transport is also very expensive and food is also all done in a Japanese way be it western, chinese etc. i was thinking it could be a nice place to retire but then again …its not perhaps cosmopolitan enough like big cities in Australia. Well, maybe Japan, if you really like Japanese food like sashimi and sushi - cause perhaps i still wouldn’t really order too much raw food in China. But to be honest , all food is mostly warm and cooked in china even breakfast. unless its cold side dishes before a main meal like pickles, veg and stuff.
China on the other hand is massive. Yes they are not a developed nation yet but catching up real fast. You want modern high life, you can visit shanghai, you want to experience nature, you can go yunnan, you want to experience a more “Siberian ” feel, you can go to the north, more desert feel, go to the west. its just very fascinating. its where things are happening now especially with the upcoming millennial generation in the work force and of course the internet and digital age. and the people, they are actually friendly and helpful in general. of course some are rude and have no manners, or just break out in a sudden quarrel on the streets but hey that’s China for you. I cant really comment on doing business but its such a big country i think the skies the limit. Pollution : due to industrialisation, yes the air isn’t the best but you don’t choke on the air or anything, some days are so clear and blue , some days are grey and foggy -
but having said that Japan is all blue skies but is it really safe? i am not sure - judging by the amount of consumer waste produced (“every sweet have a wrapper” - wrappers, bags, layers of packaging for everything )
Daily life - food is quite amazing in China - very affordable and so much variety. and i am not talking about road side stalls. they have beautiful modern casual restaurants and they are not expensive at all. 10 yrs ago maybe you can’t find a decent coffee or bread shop or gym around, but just massive changes in the 1st and 2nd tier cities these past few years. Driving there could be dangerous if you are not a local but public transport is so affordable (taxi, coaches, subway) and the high speed rail is now linking up china - no issues about travelling. If you are willing to come out of your comfort zone, i feel you will gain more knowledge and exposure while in China - after all they have 5,000 years of civilisation and culture.