I can't claim to speak as an expert on Japan, but I thought that some might be interested in reading my thoughts on things Japan could improve. This is staggered with the publishing of my list of 8 unmistakable pleasures of Japan.
Oh, Japan, Japan, Japan, for being such a closed country, you have a strange love of foreign things. I see in your hallowed streets hamburger joints, clam chowder signs, coffee shops, surfing stores, skateboard shops, and Italian restraints. Make no mistake, some of these things you do so wonderfully, your understanding of Italian ingredients sometimes surpasses the Italians themselves, and I'm sure the Lords of Dogtown had no clue that one day their taped-together kamikaze (see what I did there) inventions would be crafted by descendants of master swordsmiths, with all the detail and care given to those hallowed and ancient blades.
But there is one thing you cannot seem to get right, no matter how you try. It is a strange thing, you have great milk, and your beef is famous across the world, so why has Japan never managed to produce, or indeed, hardly import, so much as a wheel of cheese with a plastic content of less than %50?
Do you really like this? Is this just some strange conspiracy to avoid saturated fats? No! We must not have anything like the French paradox in our country! Our Sake drinking is a sign of red-nosed capitalism, not that puny and strange wine sipping communistic health! Let us fill our cheeses with processed fats, make them as unappetizing as possible, and then eat them anyway, that will teach those lousy French! Seriously, forget the French paradox, health nuts, take a look at the Japanese paradox. Longest life expectancy in the world, and somehow they don't drop dead from half a block of the pre-sliced cheese product they call cheese.
And do they eat it? Oh, yes they do. As a matter of fact, stop the presses, and punch a proud purist in the nose, for I have seen, in a sushi restaraunt, in Japan, in Nagano, where there was narry a white tourist face around the block (save mine) much less in the sushi place itself, that served a sashimi with rice, fish, and cheese, and yes, there were a number of Japanese people in the place. Now choke down that California Roll, truly traditional or not, it's nowhere near this abomination of a national cuisine and one of the greatest inventions mankind has ever stumbled upon. The first cheese ever invented must have been some horrible or small stuff, otherwise, we'd never have heard of it, as whoever discovered it would have died of a heart attack gorging himself on the pure creamy bliss before he had the chance to tell anyone how he made it. And they tell me the Japanese people have national pride.
It really deserves its own gripefest, but the bread is also unmentionably horrible - all white wonderbread, and square, in little packages of eight pieces of bread, pre-sliced.