Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Japan, Post Eleven

Impressions of Japan

I think what I carried away with me from Japan were the impressions of friendliness, cleanliness, honor, and beauty. Everywhere we went, people were friendly and helpful. For example, I ventured alone into a huge shopping mall in Yokohama. I had a map of the mall, but ran into a "you can't get there from here" situation in which I could not figure out which elevator or escalator would take me to a shop I wanted to visit.

I began asking people if they spoke English, and very quickly a young man said, "My wife." He then led me to where his wife was shopping while pushing their baby in a stroller. Her English was good, yet she could not describe the complicated route from where we were to the store I wanted to go to.

So, the couple dropped what they were doing and took me up an escalator and across a bridge to an elevator that took us to a section where three stores were in a cluster disconnected from the rest of the mall except by that circuitous route. That kind of courtesy and helpfulness is typical of what I experienced everywhere in Japan.

Cleanliness is inherent to the Japanese character. You simply don't see clutter, litter, or trash anywhere. As foreigners, we tried hard not to violate Japanese custom, taking our shoes off before entering homes or temples (in one temple I was actually given a little paper cap to go over the bottom of my cane), and being careful not to litter or clutter.

Japan is also a very safe country. Not only do you feel safe wandering alone, but your property is not only safe from theft, it is even safe from your own carelessness. In our tour group were a couple traveling with their teenage son. The night we arrived, jetlagged, the boy left the family's iPhone on the sink in the airport men's room. At the introductory meeting at the hotel, the parents were very much upset with their son for losing it.

But the next day the phone was restored to them at the hotel. Someone found it and turned it in. Someone else managed to find identification on it, and somehow they found the address of the hotel where we were staying. In virtually any other country, that family would never have seen the phone again. In Japan, obviously more than one person put time into tracing the owners and restoring it to them.

Finally, I carry with me how beautiful everything is in Japan, from food to gardens to architecture. Clearly it is a country of people who appreciate beauty, and make the effort to surround themselves with it.

Here are some photos that didn't fit into my blog posts. Enjoy!

Next week: a guest post from Geezer-Chick, with photos of the most beautiful carousel I've ever seen.


Learn to Speak Japanese

How to import a car from Japan. Click here.

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

This series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

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