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10 Crazy Differences Between McDonald’s In America & Japan (Besides The Food)

To a certain point, McDonald’s is McDonald’s, no matter where you are in the world. It’s a fast-food restaurant with cheap meals that aren’t the healthiest, even if they are delicious. But at the same time, every country offers a unique twist to their McDonald’s experience.

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In Japan, the menu can be quite different from the way it is in the United States. And that’s far from the only difference! There also tends to be a different culture around visiting McDonald’s and a different price point for most menu items. To find out about the other differences between McDonald’s in the United States and Japan, keep reading!

10 Japan: McDonald’s Is A Cool Place To Hang Out

In the United States, you don’t tend to go to McDonald’s to hang out. Instead, it’s a place where you can get cheap food, and maybe a snack on the way back from a night out with friends. But in Japan, McDonald’s is almost known as a cool place to hang out.

According to Delishably, people like going to McDonald’s in Japan to pass the time, even if their aim isn’t to eat fast food. Because of this, the entire vibe is different. It’s just like any other cool place to hang out in Japan!

9 America: Breakfast Is Much Busier

Breakfast at McDonald’s in America is definitely a pastime. Now that they have all-day breakfast, the breakfast period isn’t as rushed. But a lot of people love McDonald’s simply because they love having their pancakes, hash browns, and egg McMuffins. That’s not exactly the case in Japan.

Many travelers have noticed that breakfast at McDonald’s in Japan tends to be much less busy. Japanese culture doesn’t really include typical McDonald’s breakfast items, which may explain why! In most restaurants in Japan, all-day breakfast also isn’t a thing.

8 Japan: The Portion Sizes Are Different

It should come as no surprise that the actual menu items at McDonald’s are different in the United States from what they are in Japan. But another thing that’s different about the menu itself is that many of the portion sizes are majorly different.

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In the United States, everything tends to be bigger. Even the smallest size of drink or fries is larger than the smallest size available in Japan. On the whole, Japanese people are just used to eating smaller portions than Americans, and their menu reflects this.

7 America: Free Refills For Everyone

In America, you can get free refills at McDonald’s. But in Japan, this luxury isn’t available. You’re given the drink that you’re given, and if you want more, you have to pay for it. Again, this seems to stem back to the fact that Japanese people aren’t used to consuming as much food or drink as Americans.

In the United States, the McDonald’s staff usually wouldn’t think much of you asking for more ketchup. But in Japan, this could stress the staff members out, since they’re not used to getting people more of anything than what usually comes with the order.

6 Japan: The Employees Tend To Be Friendlier

America is known for its strong customer service culture. But at McDonald’s, the employees tend to be less friendly than they are elsewhere. This doesn’t apply to all McDonald’s, by the way. It’s just a generalization! But according to Facing the Rising Sun, Japanese customer service at McDonald’s is superior.

In some cases, the drive through employees will even bow to you as you drive away! But most of the time they are extremely welcoming and friendly. Diners have reported how they’re accommodating and can never go to too much trouble.

5 America: It’s Cheaper

McDonald’s is fast food, which is cheap compared to other forms of food. This is the case no matter what country you’re in. But in Japan, McDonald’s does tend to be that little bit more expensive. Even though many of the menu items are the same (though some are different), you end up paying a little bit more for the same in Japan.

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These shifting prices won’t be obvious because you’ll obviously be paying with Japanese Yen as opposed to American Dollars. But if you add it up, it does tend to be more expensive in Japan. Only marginally, but still!

4 Japan: There Are Fewer Mistakes

Nobody is perfect, and you’ll find that the employees can make mistakes at any McDonald’s, no matter which country you happen to be in. But if the Reddit customer reviews are anything to go by, then there appear to be fewer mistakes made in Japan than in America.

One Reddit user, who works as a manager at McDonald’s, explained that there are rules that every restaurant must abide by. In Japan, he noticed that they were all followed carefully, while in America, the overall job was done a little more carelessly.

3 America: Order Customization Is Easier

Order customization is no big deal in America. If you want to add or remove something from your burger or upgrade part of your order, or you don't want a certain toy that comes with the meal, it doesn’t tend to stress the staff out. Although mistakes can happen, which is completely normal!

But in Japan, it’s much harder to customize your order. Most Japanese people just order what is on the menu and don’t ask for the order to be changed. So workers can be thrown for a spin when you go in and ask for a change to your order. That’s not to say that they won’t do it for you. They just might be a bit confused.

2 Japan: You Can Point To Your Order

Ordering your food at McDonald’s in Japan can be a little tricky if you don’t speak Japanese. Though you will find English-speakers in some parts of Japan, there are also other parts where very few people speak the language. But luckily, you can order by pointing at the pictures at the cash registers.

According to reviews on TripAdvisor, the staff are friendly, even if you don’t speak Japanese. They will look at what you’re pointing at and know what you want to order. But again, the language barrier may make it even harder to customize your order.

1 America: Advertisements Are Less Questionable

McDonald’s has a certain reputation to uphold, which is why you’ll never see certain advertisements for the chain in the United States. As a family friendly restaurant, they mostly want to avoid offending anyone or showing advertisements that are inappropriate. But in Japan, the advertisements tend to be different.

There have been multiple advertisements in Japan that are questionable, to say the least. These advertisements have offended people, caused a bit of a scandal, and then have to be taken down. We guess the marketing team in Japan are trained differently from how they are in the US.

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