5 Things I Miss About Japan

  1. Moist towelettes, steaming hot or deliciously cool, given to you by your server at any restaurant (from high-end more-French-than-French restaurant to humble ramen joint) to wash your face and hands before eating.
  2. Common cleanliness. Barely a stray piece of paper litters the Tokyo Underground, even with all public trashcans removed after the Aum ricin attacks. People are expected to keep their trash and dispose of it in private. You get the distinct impression that even the thought of littering will be met by psychic flogging by thousands of passers-by.
  3. Common courtesy. Sadly, from an American perspective, the Japanese are uncommonly courteous. The bowing might seem to us as somehow forced or strange, but I would bet that 80-90% of the time, when Japanese bow it is earnest. And even if it isn't completely so, it is impossible to execute the movement without feeling some form of humility. I would argue that this is of considerable social value in that it generally elevates the level of discourse. By contrast, here in America, we cling to our guns and bow to no one.
  4. Pushbutton toilets, a sure sign of advanced civilization.
  5. Perfection of Craft, in all things. Something as mundane as wrapping a simple purchase at the grocery store with careful, neat folds of some elegant tissue, speaks to an appreciation for the ephemeral quality of beauty (for which I am sure there is a word in Japanese).

No comments: