This week’s post was delayed because I have been in Japan for two weeks visiting my oldest son. I have some takeaways and lessons that I have learned while being there that I would like to share today. (There are more to follow next week.)
It is crowded in the cities! Our daughter-in-law had us take the subway car during rush hour down to the busiest part of Tokyo. There is NO personal space and all you can hope for is that you arrive at your destination quickly and safely. If you can imagine a train car that is so packed that they have attendants whose job is to push people into the subway cars. I am thankful that I am tall because no one was in my face. The top two pictures that are below are Shibuya crossing close to where my son works. This intersection is the busiest in the world and is known as the Scramble Crossing. During rush hour, this pedestrian crossing could fill a football stadium with all of the people that cross. The Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo has as many as 2,500 pedestrians crossing every time the signal changes. Lesson learned: I will not complain about things being too crowded here anymore!
Don’t pollute! I have told my sons for years, “The world is not your trash can.” The Japanse people believe that. There are very few public trash cans out on the streets. You carry your garbage with you and throw it away at a convenience store where there are designated recycling bins or take it home! People do not litter as a rule and the streets are clean and swept daily by those who live in the neighborhoods. Lesson learned: Even if I didn’t make the mess I will stop and pick up the trash I see.
People are helpful and polite. I don’t know about you, but I rarely stop and ask someone if they need help. When we arrived in Tokyo we had to navigate the subway and also the bullet train (picture below). I know we looked like deer in the headlights as we gaped at the Japanese names of cities and tried to figure out where we needed to go. No less than four men at different times helped us while we were there. One gentleman even walked us to a different part of the building and delivered us right to the place we needed. Lesson learned: Help others when you can. Kindness and politeness go a long way!
Create beauty. Living in a large city such as Tokyo doesn’t afford for you to have a yard so people put pots of plants out near their apartment buildings and houses. I love pansies and this is one of the most common plants I saw while we were there. Lesson learned: Making things pretty not only brings enjoyment to those who live there, but also to others. I am going to plant pansies every year to remind me of my time in Tokyo and my family living there.
Kit Kats are a favorite candy with over 200 varieties to choose from throughout the year! Since we were there in the spring, matcha is a popular flavor right now along with strawberry. Our daughter-in-law took us to a candy store that was 6 floors! It had other snacks, but candy was the main item sold in this store. さようなら approximates to “kitto katsu” – a Japanese expression meaning good luck. (Literally: “surely win.”) Lesson learned: Try different flavors of candy and enjoy the sweetness of life.
That’s it for now! Have a great week.