As foreigners we seem to want Japan to be this utopia where everything is perfect all the time. As I listen to others around me and even reflect on my own experiences, I wonder why is it that people in this country are held to such high and unattainable standards?
When you first get here you are struck by how orderly everything is, people lining up neatly for trains, buses, restaurants and the list goes on. Shop staff greet you with glittering smiles and fawn over you as if they live to serve you. Even the police will take time to direct you if you are lost and it is not unknown for someone you ask for directions to escort to your destination.
For visitors and when those of us who live here first land on these shores all seem bright and beautiful and you are lulled into thinking you have arrived at that magical place where all is peaceful, beautiful, wonderful and sublime – all the time.
One day the facade starts cracking in places and you learn about people having their formal faces on and reserving their true faces for other occasions. You hear the buzz of gossip flying around, you get on the train or bus or whatever and a ghost sits in the seat beside you the foreigner because everyone who sees it avoids it like the plague. In these same settings you see the fit able bodied pretending to drift off while the old person standing in front of them quake as they stand from weakness of body or a pregnant woman with the badge given to her stands there with weariness shining through her eyes and those sitting pretend to sleep and you want to intervene but then you remember to mind your business and you realize people here are just like people anywhere else.
Flawed people who have problems and failings just like people in other countries in other places – though these may be manifested in different ways.
Do I understand why people do some of the things they do? No.
Do I let it bother me? Not anymore.
Many people look for love and acceptance in many places and often times fail to realize that it doesn’t exist where you are looking. You gotta love yourself or even like yourself before you can give that gift to others. (Yes, I be preachin’)
Why do we expect perfection from Japan? I really wonder about this.
The pros for me far outweigh the cons:
I like walking home at 12:30am and not worrying too much about being attacked – though one has to look out for stalkers who may be taken with the exotic
Great customer service where people put on their formal faces and do their jobs well.
Trains that run on time and are clean.
Great Japanese friends I have met.
I ain’t fussy and I know utopia does not exist so I choose to forgive and keep pushing cause we all are fighting private battles and collecting and nurturing insults is no way to live.
Gotta keep pushing and pushing…