2017 08 22

The Japanese people are really very considerate, polite, friendly for the most part, eager to help, very rare to come in to contact with someone who is rude.  I was recently over there and have some observations which may be completely inaccurate:

You rarely see couples.
You rarely see any of the  few couples holding hands.
You see lots of same sex friends out together (this is NOT an observation of gay).
The vast majority of the women are wearing skirts and dresses and dressy shoes.

The only ones out in what looks like pajama bottoms are American women.

They follow the WALK, DO NOT WALK signs religiously.
You can be on a dark street in a deserted area at 10:00pm with not a car in sight and the one other local is waiting for the walk signal.
In the rain.
With an umbrella.
Which are $4 to $6 each.
And everyone has the clear plastic one.
Sold in every store.
Placed in a communal umbrella stand just outside the door.
And frequently forgotten when the rain stops while they were inside.
Unless the store has a thing outside the door that has bazillion long narrow plastic bags like in a tablet of paper.  You jam your wet folded umbrella down in a bag and pull sideways taking the bag with you while the bag helps keep the floor dry
Unless they have an automated umbrella bagger machine, then you just stick your umbrella in.
All a good idea because the floors are gloss and TRETCHEROUS when wet!!!!!!
There are umbrella stores.  They ONLY sell umbrellas.
There are lots of lost umbrellas and forgotten umbrellas.

No one knows how to walk on the side of the road they drive on. (They drive RHD cars on the left.)

There is all but NO graffiti.
There is all but NO trash.
No cigarette butts.

The public toilets are unfailingly clean.
The public toilets are unfailingly free to use.  (Europeans please note.)
The public toilets are unfailingly plentiful. (Europeans please note.)
The public toilets are unfailingly well maintained.
The public toilets usually lack some means to dry your hands.
Many of the public toilets have heated seats (on the Western style toilets).
Many of the larger toilets have Western style toilets AND some European style hole in the floor toilets.

I saw a few crows in Tokyo and a few egrets in the country.  Otherwise no birds.

Unlike nearly everywhere else I have been, the subways are owned by corporations NOT the state or city.
There are multiple corporations which own the subways and railroads.
Your 600 yen all access day pass won’t work on all of the subways in Tokyo because they are owned by different companies.
The subway and trains are completely free of graffiti.
The subway and trains are completely free of cigarette butts.
The subway and trains are completely free of trash.
The subway and trains are completely free of buskers, beggars, or anyone making a nuisance.
The subway and trains are regular as clockwork.
The subway and trains are frequent.
It costs the equivalent of $500 for round trip train ticket from/to Tokyo to Kyoto.
Free wireless in all bus, train, and maybe even subway stations.

There are lit signs on every commercial external surface often covering the whole building.

If there is one BIC Photo (think Best Buy) there are three or four within a few blocks.

The young girls like to dress as harajuku.

There is a nine story anime store in Tokyo.

No matter the day, there are LOTS of people shopping.
And LOTS of stores.
And NO bargains.

And LOTS of McDonalds.
McDonalds seems to have not bastardized their menu.
And lots of KFCs.
KFC seems to have not bastardized their menu.
Wendys and Burger King, although not plentiful, seem to have bastardized their menu.
Note: Bastardized is purely a view from the originating country menu.
Seven Eleven is dominate.
There are stand alone Seven Eleven ATMs.

The people hanging around outside McDonalds are using the free internet.
The people sitting for an hour with the small soft drink inside McDonalds are using the free internet.
So you probably won’t find a seat.

There are NO bargains in Japan.
Prices in stores is easily that of in the USA and even can be higher.
Two McD Happy Meals is $20.00.
Lunch anywhere on the cheap with waitstaff is gonna be minimum $20.00.
They don’t tip
There is a guy directing foot traffic at ANY construction site and he has white gloves.

Traffic cops have white gloves.
Every subway stop on each platform is a person advising you to not step past the white line until the train is ready to board.  once the boarding is rapidly complete the person then signals the driver that the subway train may leave.  Wearing white gloves.

Outside any construction site there is at least one guy standing at the gate just in case he has to open the gate, stop foot traffic, and guide the vehicle in to or out of the construction site.
And if he has to do all of them there probably is one guy for each function.
The construction gate looks like a fortress.
Same for the perimeter fencing.
Oh and the guys at the gate, yes they have white gloves

Their utility wiring looks kind of primitive and messy.

The water is clean and tastes good.

The air is clean.

There is hardly NO horn noise.
Drivers are largely patient.
They need to be.
Nearly everyone with any sense rides public transportation.

Most of the waitstaff, sales clerks, fast food counter people are patient, helpful, and speak useable English.
Everything is more expensive than in the USA.

Everyone on the subway is on their phone.
Everyone has black hair and brown eyes.
Except the maybe 5% who die their hair dark brown.
You are taller than most.
So you can see the roots growing out on the hair that is died dark brown.
And the roots are……………………………….black.
The Japanese exist as a group.  There isn’t really much individualism.

Green seedless grapes are VERY expensive.
Grocery stores are small.
Portions are small.
Packages are small.
No 24 pack of anything.
They sell soda in nearly 12oz cans and also cans that must be only about FIVE ounces.
There are soft drink vending machines everywhere and the soda is COLD.
They sell and eat everything.
Even bugs and squid tentacles complete with suction cups.
They eat soup with chopsticks.

They have the oddest festivals and parades.
Like their parades have no bands
No floats.
Maybe some BIG drums, LOTS of BIG drums.  Fukin HUGE drums.  And they have TWO drummers a poundin on each drum.  One flailing away and one making a recognizable pattern.
With replacement drummers waiting.
They change drummers without missing a beat.
And replacement s for the replacements.
And the drummers are having FUN!
The parades may not actually parade.  They may sorta mil about
Or if they do move it might be SLOW.
The parade may be two, three, four hour long.
The viewers may be hurling water on the parade “marchers” to keep them cool and as a result, drenched.
You might get hurt just watching the marchers with the TALL lantern hangers when the lose control and fall on the crowd.

You will see young women wearing Kimonos.
Wearing weird socks with a shape to go around the strap between the big toe and the next toe for the “shoes”.
Those shoes may be made of wood.
The female Kimono is colorful and has a big tightly confined bow in the back at just above the butt.
Guys wear an identical Kimono with two obvious gender tags.
It isn’t colorful.
The bow is replaced by a tube of fabric held on by a belt of the same material.
Kimono are VERY expensive.  Hundreds of dollars equivalent.

We have pennies, nickels, dimes.  And quarter, half dollars.  And dollars.
They have yen.  Like one, five, ten, 100, 500 coins in 1 cent, five cent, 100 cent, and 500 cent values.
They have 1000 yen, 2000 yen, 5000 yen, 10,000 yen denominations in $10, $20, $50, $100 values.
So your pocket has relatively a lot of coins and your wallet fewer bills.

It rained a lot  Probably why the umbrella has a prominent place.

In Akihubara, a section of Tokyo, there are shops selling wire, shops selling capacitors, selling watches, selling umbrellas, lots of them.  Sock stores.  Stores selling just electric meters. Just florescent lights.  Selling switches and fuses because, well ya can’t make a decent living selling just switches can ya?  Other retail sections there are similar one inventory shops.
There are maybe six or eight hub commercial areas in Tokyo.  Each has a sorta focus.

There is a huge Godzilla looking out over a building.

Temples everywhere.
One looks like a Star Wars ship.

Space is at a premium so in a land with earthquakes they are building UP.

There are crosswalks at intersections that stop traffic in all directions and THOUSANDS of patiently waiting pedestrians flow across in an orderly fashion while the cars wait patiently.  Then just before the lights let the traffic go the pedestrian foot traffic magically tapers to zero.

No one seems to know which side of the sidewalk to walk on.
Some subway stations the down id on the right.
Some the down is on the left.
Same goes if the stairs also have escalators.
Down may be right or left.
They DO flow with the escalator direction.
They may or may not flow with the stair direction.
How do you know the stair direction?
It is on a small placard on the stair riser.
But you can’t see them going down unless you are already going down and look back.  Fall!
You can’t see them going up if the stairs are crowded.
So it is just a free for all.
A polite and orderly free for all.

And that kind of sums up Japan.  Polite, orderly, in some ways chaotic.

The corporations seem to own the place.
Corporate Japan.
There doesn’t seem to be much to for people to look forward to in Japan.
You are just a cog on the corporate gear.
Guys go in and work till noonish, have a lunch, go back till dinner, go out and have a liquid dinner, and go back off the clock till nineish.
And if they miss their train home, they can stay in a coffin hotel.

There are almost no children visible in Tokyo.
The wives are secondary to their husbands.
The husbands are absentee.
The marriages may not be romantic in the Western sense.

Apparently they aren’t getting any.
Apparently something like 30% of those in their 30s are virgins.
Apparently something like 60% of those in their thirties have never had a serious relationship.
The guys like video games.

The women hang out with other women.
The guys hang out with other guys.
Shopping and socializing with other women seems to be the big thing for women.

There are lot of big video game parlors with nearly identical video games.  Hundreds with nearly all guys playing nearly shoulder to shoulder smoking and in a LOUD din.  ON EACH FLOOR!!!!

There are quite a few places with those claw machines.  Pay a bit less than you could buy it for and see if you get lucky.  And again.  Again.  And again.  With fifty of the machines.  Not many women in those either.

This looks to me to be a culture headed to an intersection.  If they don’t find a way to get these people to become enthused about making babies they won’t have workers in the future and if they don’t find a way to put some romance in their lives the marriage rate may be low.  And excitement about LIFE, life other than work.  They need to figure out how to have passion.  But that causes disorder.

If we could change our culture to be a bit more like theirs, somewhere between their sense of community and our sense of individualism, we would be better off.


Published by

Billie Anne Jean

I am just having FUN!


  1. I find wherever I travel that there are some things we could learn from other countries. Japan is a magical place. Like I told a guy who had noticed we were looking at a map. asked if he could help, Googled our destination, and walked us nearly there. I tol him he should be proud of his country. He thought I was kidding. I reassured him that I was serious.
    Thanks for looking at my Blog.

  2. Hi Billie! I just logged on to your site and this story about Tokyo, Japan was my introduction. In your words, it sounds like Japan is a magical place and a wonderful place. We here in the states could take a few lessons from there it seems. Great blog!

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