Friday, March 28, 2008

Observations on Japan

Now that we're living in China, you can see the difference between some of the countries that we have travelled to, and Japan is no different. Let me explain the differences that we found while travelling in and around Tokyo for the past 5 days.

Japan: No smoking outside unless there is a designated area. There are signs on the sidewalk telling everyone that you cannot smoke.

China: Smoking is as natural as breathing here. We don't see women smoke as we do the men but they will smoke just about anywhere.

Japan: They actually form a line in the designator area, one behind each other. You even see this when you cross the streets. They stand behind each other patiently waiting for the light to turn green.

China: Line, what line? If there's space between the door and another person, it just makes sense to cut in front of them. Why wouldn't you?

Japan: No garbage cans, ironically there is also no garbage anywhere either. We figure they must pack up their belongings and bring them home to discard their garbage.

China: Why wouldn't I throw my kleenex on the ground? There is someone to sweep the garbage.

Japan: The use of cell phones is one of discretion. They ask that you be discreet, as not to bother the person next to you.

China: I want everyone to hear my conversation. They answer the phones anywhere, anytime. In bathrooms, in movie theatres, in meetings, at dinner, when you get a massage, it really doesn't matter. The phone rings and they will answer it and if not, the phone keeps ringing until they do.

Japan: Everyone is professionally dressed for work. The men are all in dark suits and ties, and the women will dress conservatively in suits or dresses. One would think you are going to a funeral.

China: Pretty much anything goes and there are times one wonders where the women get their fashion sense. In many cases, they will wear the same work clothes most of the week.

Japan: They can speak English, and many times are able to write English to converse, however many Japanese choose not to speak English. Having spoken to a few expats, if you try, they will speak to you, if not, they will continue speaking Japanese.

China: The Chinese are more than happy to try and attempt their knowledge of the English language on an unsuspecting Caucasian.

Japan: The people are more reserved and keep to themselves.

China: If there is a baby within 10 feet, you will have strangers cooing over them as if they were long lost relatives. The Chinese are very friendly and will strike up a conversation with you regardless if you know the language or not.

Essentially Japan is, from what we observed for the past few days, the opposite of what China is and though Tokyo was very clean and efficient, we have become use to the flexibility of China. Hey, I like knowing that if I cut in front of anyone, there are no hard feelings.

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