Smoking in Japan

There seems to be remarkably less cigarette smoking here in Japan than I have seen in other parts of the world – and this is a good thing.

But oddly enough – Japan allows smoking in restaurants – and that really upsets me personally – and the Intrepid Traveller is not all that thrilled either.

Japan definitely does some things right. Smoking (and maybe Vaping which seems curiously absent here) is definitely not allowed on the streets, on the subways, or in museums. If you must smoke, there are barricaded areas labeled ‘smoking permitted’ rather randomly located in public areas. On the street these take the form of wired or fenced or glassed in areas where smokers can huddle to imbibe. They aren’t covered – and there are no seats – so they aren’t generally particularly welcoming, but at least they are provided.

We also haven’t seen much smoking in cars – quite a relief from the smoke filled autos of North America. It happens of course – but it’s not close to the normal thing.

But there is one major problem. Smoking is allowed in Restaurants, and I’m guessing bars as well. This has proven to be a huge problem for us, because we like to get a spot of tea in the afternoons – and every time we’ve tried to do this – we’ve been smoked out.

The worst was yesterday. We were wiped out – and just wanted to sit and relax for a few moments. We were near the wonderful Osaka Museum of Housing, which is in a very commercial part of the city – so no park land in evidence. Our choice was between MacDonalds and a ‘Coffee Shop’.

Foolishly – I picked the Coffee Shop. We sat down, ordered tea and a delicious if weird thing called a fruit parfait – and then realized that the gal seated behind us was a chain smoker – there for the long haul. During our 20 minutes or so she smoked 3 or 4 cigarettes, entertained 2 different groups of friends, and generally made our life miserable between her chain smoking and hacking cough.

Wonder if they were related.

And she wasn’t alone. In the tiny space of this 10 table coffee shop – 3 other tables hosted smokers as well. We walked out stinking of cigarette smoke, and determined to make a better choice next time.

Signing off to wash the cigarette stink off our hands – the Soup Lady and the Intrepid Traveler

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