After all the shots of objects from Japan I thought I would do a post on the people themselves. Although the aesthetic elements of Japan were overwhelmingly pleasing, the people and the culture are what had the most profound impact on my stay there. Let me preface this by saying that any of these observations are obviously subjective as they are based on my limited exposure to one city during a 6 day period. I tried to see as many parts of Tokyo as I could and we usually traveled with local friends to insure we didn’t just see the tourist perspective.
I was amazed by how polite and hard working the people there seemed to be. The city itself borders on some sort of quasi-utopian vision of how good things could be in some alternate universe. It had it’s dark side as any city does, but by in large it’s just an incredibly clean and efficient place. Everyone we came into contact with was friendly and would go out of their way to help with anything you need. The service industry was something otherworldly, I have never experienced such courteous and attentive service anywhere else. The craziest part was they WILL NOT accept tips. We spent the first 2 days trying to tip cab drivers and waiters to no avail. Each time we left a tip on the table after a meal we were literally chased down outside the restaurant and informed that we had left money. No amount of explaining would convince them to keep the money. There is a significant language barrier but the courteous nature of the people we encountered usually overcame that obstacle through sheer diligence. There were workers everywhere doing all manner of tasks at any given time. Three people would be employed just to wave cars out of a parking garage and there were police and security guards posted everywhere in the city. They must be approaching 100% employment from the looks of things. I counted about 5 homeless people the entire time I was there.
Again these observations are all extremely subjective, my stay was limited to a short time frame and a small geographic area. But the same could be said for any of my stays in various American cities and none of them managed to appear so close to perfection as Tokyo. I can wholeheartedly recommend visiting Tokyo, you’ll find a great dose of culture and excitement. Make sure to save up though, that place is expensive. $12 beers anyone? I guess you get what you pay for though.
I am still rounding up and processing all the shots from the Tsuiki Fish Market, I’ll be posting those soon along with a lot of good ones from Bangkok, a visually stunning experience to be certain.