Japan is my favorite country to date. It’s on another level, zero exaggeration. These are the kindest, honorable, hard-working, forward-thinking and technologically advanced people I’ve ever encountered. I’m in awe of their grace. This is a country of 127 million people and generally speaking, you’d be hard-pressed to find a trash can. Even more impressive, you be harder pressed to find any trash on the streets. It’s understood people simply take their trash home and recycle it. It’s also one of the top-ten safest countries in the world. The number of recorded crimes fell to 915,042 last year, the lowest level in the postwar era. That came as the nation’s economy had its longest run of sustained growth in almost 30 years, which drove the unemployment rate down to 2.8 percent. Atop of that they have not-for-profit healthcare (!); extremely efficient, punctual transportation including bullet trains which can take you cross-country in a few hours; public lost-and-found boards with personal property forwarding; public restrooms; toilets with heated seats, bidets, and non-touch systems everywhere; cheap alcohol (which can be consumed in public) and killer food available almost everywhere; taxis have driver-operated passenger doors; discreet and respectful server/call buttons in restaurants; a general no-talking-on-your-phone in public understanding; they wear masks not only for health reasons but they respect the idea of a clean workforce, and they’re the kindest, warmest people I’ve ever met. Oh, and they have some of the most advanced cityscapes in the world. It’s like walking into the future and the past at the same time. Pure harmony. Imagine Shogun and Minority Report in agreement.
The only thing I can see they haven’t figured out is change. It’s an unusual currency system with lots of change. Like, everywhere has a tray to pay because they know there is some serious change coming. Not sure why they keep this up. All things considered, that’s pretty damn impressive and their social agreement is rock solid. Most could learn from this level of respect.
Our last full day summed up my entire Japanese experience. We went out for the 2018 National Cherry Blossom Festival. Everyone out on blankets, telling stories, drinking, laughing and celebrating Earth as they know it. The smell of savory and sweet foods in concert, children playing, music and arts. Spring is in the air and everyone is happy to be alive. We hear the sound of a children’s musical rehearsing in the park, we follow it. We then see swan-shaped paddle boats on the lake, we go for a picture. Then I see a swarm of sparrows eating out of a lovely Malaysian woman’s hand. Then a woman, seemingly drunk in love, Facetiming the deepest soliloquy one could muster of love and longing. Loudly. All, to the soundtrack of Disney on Ice.
Japan, I respect you, and I’m thankful you’re so welcoming to foreigners. Please know, the pleasure was all mine.
Arigatōgozaimashita. Mata au made, Japan