Cell Phones and Japan
Perhaps the biggest thing that surprised me when I first arrived in Japan was all the cell phones. I think the US has caught up some since, but when I came to Japan in 2001 very few people I knew had cell phones. In Japan everyone had a cell phone. And not just that, but it was amazing what these cell phones could do. Surf the internet, send e-mail, take pictures, play video games, do calculations, store schedules, etc. Again, I think the US has caught up since then, but in 2001 this was very surprising to me. I thought the US, as the world's super power, had the best of everything, and I didn't expect some of Japan's electronics would be more advanced. And then I wondered, "If they have all these advanced electronics, why are the toilets and the houses so primative?"
Being a bit of a hypochondriac, I was very cautious about getting a cell phone at first because of the health risks. But when you are the only one who doesn't have a cell phone, you really get left out of the loop. Plus cell phone use was so prominent in Japan, I figured the health risks couldn't be that bad. I mean if cell phone's cause brain cancer, the whole island of Japan is pretty much doomed.
And then once and a while you read articles like this which make you cautious again. This is an article from the Japan times (Which, ironically enough, I first read while surfing the net on my cell-phone).