10 things we love about Japan…

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Temple in Ueno Park (photo courtesy of James)

 

…especially the Japanese people and culture

Chris, James and I spent just one week in Japan but from the moment we stepped off the plane we felt inspired by the incredible Japanese culture and sense of courtesy, calmness and organisation. Below are 10 things we loved about being in Japan:

  1. Respect: Japanese people have a large amount of respect for others; nobody pushes or tries to beat you to the front of the queue or onto a train and nobody scowls at you if you accidentally bump into them; people politely move out of the way in a crowd…
  2. Orderly: signs tell you which side of the path to walk on and there are bird noises at stations to inform visually impaired people were the steps and exits are.
  3. Clean: even street food outlets give you a wet wipe before you eat; public toilets are spotless; no rubbish on the streets or in the parks.
  4. Attention to detail: instructions on how to behave on bus i.e. “Please can you use your phone in ‘manner mode’…”
  5. Kind and helpful: each time we were out someone took the time to help us get the right train or find the right direction and tried to speak with us in English; in just one short week there were several occasions where people gave up their seat or table so we could be seated together.
  6. Calm and patient: people walk around in a calm manner; nobody rushes and everyone seemed stress-free.
  7. Gratitude: Japanese people seemed genuinely grateful for your custom in a cafe/bar/restaurant. They use both hands to return your credit card or cash to you  on a small tray together with a polite bow.
  8. Ingenious: while the train network is complex it is also very clever… you can insert 2 tickets together and the machine computes where you’ve been and how much you owe which you simply top up at a nearby machine; in our apartment light switches lit up at night so you can see where to switch them on in the dark. Our apartment WC had an ingenious water saving facility whereby the top of the cistern was filled using an external tap, this allows you to wash your hands at the same time as filling for the next flush.
  9. Things are properly maintained: taps dont leak… showers stay constant… items are replenished. You can always use notes or coins in the station ticket machines and always get the correct change.
  10. Minimalist: the apartment, hotel, restaurants, buildings have a functional yet clutter-free minimal feel which is something very close to Laura’s heart…

 

While we realise that many Asian countries are poor and they see tourists as being rich and often people are quite desperate which probably contributes to petty crime it was refreshing to visit Japan without feeling like we have to constantly ‘watch our back’ looking out for scams and rip-offs; watching your credit card like a hawk; tentatively use ATM’s for fear they will swallow up your card; check your change carefully; tightly grip hold of your mobile phone expecting someone to swipe it out of your hands… such things just doesn’t seem to happen in Japan. Indeed Japan is one of the safest countries in the world.

We noticed that Japanese people also seemed to take great pride in their appearance. The general public of Tokyo are smart and well groomed… you don’t see any Japanese ‘chavs’!

Many places we’ve visited during our extended round-the-world trip have been incredibly inspiring for different reasons. We have certainly been most inspired by the our experience of the people and culture of Japan as illustrated in this post and we are keen to explore more of this amazing country.

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Origami in Ueno Park (photo courtesy of James)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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