One thing the ignorant traveller in me can not let pass uncommented.
There are many things that can be said about Japanese culture, I am sure, and I am the wrong guy to write about it.
But observing everyday Japanese work is eye opening no matter what. A few examples that impressed me:
- Several bus drivers who greet and say good-bye to every passenger.
- The train conductor who enters the railway car, stops, bows, moves on to the opposite door, turns around, bows, and only then opens the door to the next car. And nobody traveling in the car takes notice.
- The road worker who guides clueless stupid tourists with a smile.
- The gardener who painstakingly picks up every piece of litter in the gardens and greenery.
The point is: each and every one of these people seems to take deep pride in what they do, as simple or basic one might think the task at hand is. They are not grumpy. They are rather filled with a deep certainty that what they do is important and that it is done with respect and care.
Yes, there are grumpy Japanese for sure. But the examples I mention above are random and across different places and jobs, which tells me that the general behavior is probably like that (and yes: maybe it’s skewed towards more touristic areas).
I am not saying by any means everything is better in Japan (hell, no!).
But this is an observation worth noting and reflecting on.