I’ve been imaging what visiting Japan would be like for over a decade.
I’d imagine Tokyo to be somewhat of a more futuristic and over-stimulated Times Square. While the futuristic part holds true, the over-stimulated part does not.
The thing about Japan is that everyone is so respectful of other people’s personal space. The Japanese culture is centred around being very modest and polite and to put everyone’s needs before their own. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, especially in America. In most western cultures people do what’s best for their individual identity, where as in Japan they do what’s best for the group. Because of this, it’s not overwhelming to be in even in the most densely populated of areas in Tokyo and the rest of Japan. No one is pushing, yelling, rushing by, everyone is very orderly and keeps calm.
Even thinking about Japan months later, all I can think about is surreal of a trip it was. Getting to visit Tokyo, Mt Fuji, Hakone, Kyoto, and Nara in a span of nine days made me fall in love with the Japanese culture.
Things that are frowned upon in the Japanese culture that westerns may not be aware of are; blowing your nose in public, drinking or eating on the subways, it’s okay to show off some leg, but no one should show off their chest (any top that shows below the line of the armpit is considered too short), walking across the street when the light is anything but green.
Some other facts; you greet everyone by bowing, even just by bowing of the head, they don’t have many trash cans in public as fear of getting bombed like they did back in 1995, their public restrooms usually don’t have hand towels, and they think it’s rude to tip people. Also in Japan, kitchens often stop serving 30-60 minutes before closing time.
As I spent a better part of my time in Tokyo, that’s the city that fully has my heart in the palm of its hand. In a city that’s far from what people imagine tranquil to represent, Tokyo is very much that. The mixture of calmness even in the busiest of areas along with the bright neon city lights and pastel coloured buildings makes it feel very cinematic.
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Words by HQ