Despite Japan’s reputation for being technologically modern, they do still have things that seem outdated (but not always unnecessary). Here are some examples:

It’s always odd to see someone using a pay phone here.

Public Pay Phones
They’re not as numerous as they might have been before mobile phones, but they’re common enough that you can’t miss them. While most people won’t ever need them, it’s good to know they exist in case your phone breaks or the battery dies.

Bank Passbooks
I mentioned these before, and am still baffled that they exist. You use them at ATMs in place of a PIN, and the machine prints on them. I haven’t owned a passbook since I was a child with my first savings account.

Smoking Sections
This is more of a recent anachronism, but it’s still strange to see people smoking in restaurants here.

Cash Only
It never fails to surprise me at how few places take credit cards here (e.g. convenience stores, furniture stores, fast food chains). Fewer still accept debit cards, making the latter all but useless here.

While the usage of fax machines in America is on a steady decline, Japan still faxes like it’s 1999.

Phone Lanyards
I get the idea that when mobile phones first hit Japan, people would wear them on a lanyard around their necks. It doesn’t really work with smart phones, and I’ve only really seen it practiced by old people and kids. This seems like more of an anachronism for here than anything, since I’ve never seen anyone in the West wear their phones like that.


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