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Japan with Kids: What’s Great

We’re often asked by family if we miss America / England?  The honest answer is no.   We love living in Japan with our two kids.   There is so much about their childhood that their cousins back home can’t have or do.
 
#1. Freedom: 
 
Children in Japan have freedom to go out on their own without a guardian.   From the age of 6, children walk to and from school by themselves.   After school and on weekends, they play in the park / at the school with their friends: no parents needed.    From 9, they are allowed (officially by the school) to ride their bike where they want.    They CAN and DO go to the pool, the movies, the park……without parents.   
 
Children are FREE to go where they want, when they want.   Such independence is amazing. 
 
I contrast this with America where, depending on the state, children are not allowed to be unsupervised until their teenage years.    And in most places (because of distances to friends’ houses) need to be driven everywhere until 16.
 
# 2. Safety:
 
Of course, #1 wouldn’t work without #2.   I don’t worry too much about the kids when they are out.   I know they are relatively safe.    Safe to play in the park.    Safe to ride their bike to soccer practice 30 minutes away.    Safe to take the train to games an hour away with teammates.    Safe to meet their friends at the pool.    
 
# 3. FREE healthcare: 
 
Depending on where you live, children are either free or pay a nominal fee for doctor and dentist visits until the age 18.   In our city, it is all free.    Surgery, fillings, routine checks… Students also have yearly check ups at school checking basic health, teeth and eyes.   If there is a problem, parents are obligated to visit the doctor / dentist.    These check ups help keep the whole population healthy and spot any small problems before they become big.    There’s a reason why Japanese people have live so long. It starts with universal, affordable health care.
 
There are MANY other things we love about living here—we’ll cover them in subsequent blogs.
 
What about you?  What do you love about life in Japan?

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