I would like you to think about :

1) the 5 best thing that would make you want to live in Japan
2) the 5 worst thing that would make you want NOT to live in Japan
3) the 5 things that surprised you in a positive way when came to Japan (compared to your expectations)
4) the 5 things that disappointed you most when came to Japan (compared to your expectations)

Naturally, only people who have been to Japan (and lived there) can give their top 5's.

It's always good to have a balanced view of the pros and cons, and make the point between reality and expectations. This thread is meant to summarise our feelings and share them with everyone so that we can compare and discuss them. Expectations will probably give the bigger differences from individual to individual, based on their knowledge of Japan prior to come to the country, and the type of society they come from.

I'll start the dance :

N.B. : the numbers in bold represent the 5 most important points in my eyes for the pros and the cons.

Top 5 best things about living in Japan

1) The frequent sight of women in kimono, the matsuri and other traditional aspects
2) Convenience stores, huge department stores, and shopping on Sunday
3) Peaceful and orderly people
4) The general non-religiousness of the Japanese
5) Low taxes (sorry, couldn't think of anything else)

Top 5 best things that I didn't expect about Japan

1) The food, as much the quality as the low price and quick service of restaurants
2) The care of girls for their style and fashion (in big cities)
3) The cleanliness and extensive network of the metro (in Tokyo)
4) Mild and dry winters (in Tokyo)
5) The ease to move around cities by bicycle

Top 5 worst things about living in Japan

1) Japanese people's reluctance to express their opinions and their general naivete (i.e. lack of critical sense)
2) Natural disasters (esp. earthquakes, as it is a deterrent to buying a house)
3) The lack of beautiful houses (I haven't seen single house I would have fallen in love with)
4) Japanese TV
5) 5-month-long muggy summers

Top 5 worst things that I didn't expect about Japan

1) The shocking ignorance about the rest of the world (or even about Japan)
2) The attitude toward Westerners (not everybody, but enough to be disturbing)
3) The destruction and mismanagement of the historical and natural heritage
4) The lack of thermic isolation and central heating in houses
5) Concrete and electric lines everywhere, and poor urban planning

Note that what I selected in the "worst things about living in Japan" are things which I more or less expected before first going to Japan. My strongest deterrent to living in Japan are mostly things which I didn't expect at first. There are also things for which I had positive expectations, but which have become tarnished with time (e.g. the helpful and respectful character of the Japanese, as it really depends on the people when it comes to interacting with foreigners).