I’m going to be completely off topic here, but I hope you won’t mind My French Heaven becoming Japanese for a few posts…
My birthday present this year was a two week vacation in Japan to visit my niece and her husband who live in Tokyo. What a trip that was. I chose to go at the end of November as I wanted to witness the leaves turning colors. What a good call that was! A photographer’s heaven…
There are so many things about that trip that I want to share with you, that I have decided to write 4 posts about it:
- Part 1: Tokyo and my impressions of Japan and the Japanese people
- Part 2: The countryside and a few travel tips
- Part 3: The gardens and temples of Kyoto
- Part 4: Sushi heaven and the Tsukiji fish market, style and craftsmanship
My Japanese Heaven – Part 1/4 – Tokyo and first impressions
Japan is such an iconic country and its culture so well known and admired around the world, that one cannot help landing there with tons of preconceived ideas about the place. I must say that did find everything I expected to find there from the temples to the old ladies in kimonos and great sushi. But I got so much more from this incredible journey. I knew the Japanese people to be very disciplined and serious for instance, but what I didn’t expect was for them to be so kind and friendly. So welcoming and delightful and every way. I also expected everyone to bow and smile and giggle. I was actually shocked to realize that all this actually came from the heart… Not one once of passive aggressive behavior here. What you see is truly what you get! What a noble people the Japanese are!
Here are a few things about the Japanese culture that I found most remarkable:
- Traditions are very important. People show great respect at all times, especially for their elders. Young people and old people still wear kimonos. Especially on weekends.
- Everyone is extremely polite and disciplined. Lines form everywhere, even to cross the street.
- Most people seem very serious (like VERY serious) and quite formal, but they are just focused on the task at hand and will smile at you as soon as you address them. To me, one word says it all about Japanese people: KINDNESS
- They always think of the other person first. For instance, a lot of people wear surgical masks. I thought at first that they wanted to protect themselves from pollution, but they wear them mostly when they have a cold because they don’t want to infect other people.
- Bow + give a genuine smile + say hello. Then ask your question. Remember, politeness and genuine care first!
- You eat the best sushi in restaurants that ONLY serve sushi. The chef, usually the owner, will only serve the very best. This means that any ingredient that isn’t up to par that day will not be used. This depends on what is or isn’t available at the market that day. You will eat 10 to 15 pieces and they will be served one by one. But more about my sushi experience in part 4.
- Japan is extremely safe. No crime whatsoever it seems. I’m told that the mafia takes care of petty thieves. The police seems to focus mostly on traffic. Over the course of my 2 week stay, I drove more than 2000 Km and only saw 1 police car on the highway. Not one cop in sight in the city except for a few traffic attendants here and there.
- If cleanliness is next to godliness, they’re all so close to God they can touch the guy’s beard!
- Japanese people LOVE their dogs and truly consider them as their children. They are the best groomed pets I have ever seen!
- A lot of people seem very shy. They never say no. They’ll find a way to make you understand that they don’t agree with something, but always through subtle body language. It’s your job to read between the lines.
OK, enough bla bla. Here is the first batch of photos: