Saturday, March 11, 2006

Enjoyable Things About Japan

Some things are irritating sometimes, some things could be better. But many things are quite nice.

  • Quiet. In general, it is much quieter here than city life in the states. Yes, there are still noisy people---Japanese or others---but rarely do you have to listen to someone's stereo blasting through your walls. Neighborhoods are quiet, you don't hear people screaming and shouting all over. Strangely, once in a forest this quietness evaporates because like most city people, Tokyoites don't know what to do in the woods.
  • Although there are few big parks, there are a lot of small garden-like areas near building complexes in Tokyo. These have a lot of well-thought out plants and trees. It is always nice to be walking in a big city an catching a whiff of spring flowers from one of these areas. Some are even on rooftops, for example, one is on the to of Takashimaya department store in Futakotamagawa.
  • Overall, people in Tokyo are well-mannered. Yes, these are good manners in the Japanese frame of things, but most of the time, they would be considered good manners nearly anyway. This is not to bring out the old saw that the Japanese are the most polite people in the world or any of that nonsense.
  • Delicious, high-quality restaurant meals are easy to find. It isn't cheap though if you go to a restaurant to eat it. Still, you can find an enjoyable meal even at a low price. The service in the good restaurants is usually quite good. In others it may be so-so, but still beat anything by the local punks at McDonald's in the States. (The local punks often seem to find employment at Moss Burger in Japan.)
  • As a French guy I met on a train in Tokyo about six years ago said: The Japanese have class. Now that is a general statement which I tend to be leary about because it smacks of "The Japanese are the most_______in the world" that one always hears from the Japanese or their foreign apologists. However, in this case, I tend to agree. When you are dealing with a Japanese person---as opposed to interacting with a large anonymous group---they do have class. It is hard to define that I suppose, but they tend to have a reserve and self control and a decent way of treating and showing respect to others. Even under a lot of stress this tends to hold true. Rarely do you run into the type of crass, uncouth behavior that you can find in some places in the US and Canada (perhaps others too) when you are personally interacting with someone, be it a business transaction or otherwise. You do run into crass, uncouth, rude, obnoxious people here too, but it seems to be less common.
  • Most people in Tokyo have a decent sense of style. They own clothing other than blue jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers. Generally, people are fairly well-dressed.
  • Even if they think you are a moron and despise you, they generally won't say so or show it in any way to your face. Of course, this can be a very bad point too, but it keeps things smooth on the surface and everyone can pretend to get along. You'll have to figure out whether this is good or bad. I know what I think. It's ok if you are just passing through...

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