I spent last week in Tokyo! It was an interesting (in a good way) experience as an American Foodie!
Out of curiosity, I decided to eat my first breakfast in country at the McDonald’s that was a few blocks from my hostel in Asakusa, Taito-ku. I wondered how, if at all, the experience differed from eating breakfast at McDonald’s here in the States; I’ll admit I ate at McDonald’s for breakfast on my way to work more than I really should admit.
The Sausage McMuffin itself was basically what you’d expect in the states: an (thankfully seemingly real) egg, sausage patty, and cheese (of some sort) on an English muffin. I did notice the hashbrown being not as disgustingly greasy as hashbrowns in the States. The paper sleeve it came in was actually quite dry whereas I’m used to seeing it a bit damp.
The biggest difference is the coffee. As in the US, the size of the coffee that comes with combo meals is the medium size. The difference is that medium in Japan is the same size as the small in the US. Just as importantly, the cashier gives you a cup of creamer and a stick of sugar; you can’t self-serve and thus take as much as you want as you can in the States.
While overweight people do exist in Japan, as they do anywhere else in the world, it’s clear that the average waistline is a lot shorter than that in the United States. I don’t know if that’s saying anything at all since the US very much is the fattest country in the world.
To be fair, Tokyo is a city full of chainsmokers, where many restaurants either have sizable sections where you are allowed to smoke or even provide ashtrays at every table. I’m not about to commend Japanese people on being super health-conscious. I will say though that they do seem to have a better concept of what is good for them and thus allow certain things to be regulated as such.
A controversy that erupted a few years ago in New York was when then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg attempted to pass a law capping the size of soda people are allowed to buy. As we all know, soda is about as bad for your health as beverages go. People of course got upset. Why? As red-blooded Americans, they felt it was their right to self-induce diabetes, just as it is their right to own guns (which are illegal for most people to own in most other countries). Ironically, they are probably the ones who also opposed Obamacare, though they are probably the ones who would benefit from it if they continued in their lifestyle.
I don’t really want to make a judgement call, but if the average life expectancy (according to the World Health Organization in 2012) in Japan is 5 years longer than that in the US, then they must be doing something right.
Of course, being in Japan, with a very heavily service-oriented culture, the staff was a lot more helpful than that in the McD’s of Sharon, Massachusetts; I’d swear the task of putting together my order tests the upper limits of the latter’s staff’s cognitive ability.