“It’s really hard to be considered weird here.” “I’ve noticed. I love it.”
Japan’s juxtaposition of preserved ancient tradition and futuristic technology is like no other. here, it’s not rare to find a true-to-its tradition practice that hasn’t changed in a millennium next door to a cutting edge technological advance that is will soon push the culture forward by a millennium.
i’m captivated by Tokyo’s seemingly error-less fluidity of everything. trains and subways are on time to a T, litter is nowhere to be found (even though the same is true with trash cans), and when at the end of a line that would take hours in America, you are next before you can even say “Konichiwa!” if these details aren’t indicative enough of a well run city, everyone and everything, however clustered it may seem, is in complete agreement with the other. people do their own thing, and that own thing perfectly meshes with everyone else’s own thing.
Japan is a clusterfuck of perfection.
as I’m writing, this four kids who can’t be older than five years old each walk shoulder to shoulder cracking jokes carrying backpacks — on their way to school. it is not uncommon for young children to roam the streets as adults do. Crime is seemingly non-existent and though not exactly cordial, Japanese people leave no doubt in your mind that they aren’t the kindest and most caring people on this planet.
a measly 500 yen purchase of water in 7/11 afforded us 20 seconds of bowing and thanking. dropping 200 yen afforded me the most concerning point and exclamation by a man rushing through the subway station. these people care. and not because they have to. there’s an intrinsic feeling of goodness in the air here. coming from America, this feeling feels otherworldly. this inherent, deep distinction is undoubtedly the result of their thousands of years worth of history.
I can’t help but cringe when I think back to America — where people try their hardest to appear caring and interested, when in reality (and in their head) they could not care less.* that is inherently different in Japan. though people do not go out of their way to appear friendly or genuine, they truly are that. they embody that. In Japan it’s about “we,” not “me.” people aren’t walking around with fake smiles trying to convince people of their kindness. instead, people walk around with the knowledge that if they needed to, they could count on any stranger they pass by. that’s real assurance.
[I wonder how dogs differ in Japan and America.]
*America will get past this. We are young.