Some things and differences that I remembered in recent days, thinking back on our holidays in Japan…
- An overabundance of policemen or security people. It seemed that every construction site had at least one policeman. If there was a makeshift wall around the site, there would be at least one policeman per gate. And that one time we were walking arond Tokyo station looking for some Open WLAN we saw a worker carrying something big and heavy, accompanied by a policeman who asked people to step aside while the worker kept on carrying his thing. That seems pretty inefficient to me.
- Late in the evening, between eight and ten, “salarymen” and moving like a constant trickle of people from their offices to bars and home. Some of these people are drunk. And I don’t mean tipsy. In a society where face means so much, the drunk people seem to enjoy some kind of immunity. Being barely able to talk, being helped by friends left and right, being pulled along by a sober female – all these situations would cause terrible loss of face here in Switzerland. To be drunk in public is a major faux pas in Switzerland and apparently no problem at all in Japan.
- I knew it from the mangas, but I was still surprised by the volume of it: When the Japanese eat cold soba or udon noodles, they first use their chopsticks to move the noodles into a little bowl with a soy-sauce based, cold liquid, and then they stick some noodles in their mouth, start slurping, and keep on shoving more noodles at an impressive speed. Slurp… slurp… slurp, slurp, slurp, slurp! slurp! SLURP! slurp-slurp. slurp… Whoa! Here in Switzerland slurping is considered to be a sign for a lacking education.
- Similarly, we heard it was considered to be a sign of lacking control if you blow your nose. You’re supposed to snuffle (and swallow, I guess). And that’s considered to be very gross here ins Switzerland.
- There was a constant ding-dong electric bell near public toilets. I don’t know what purpose it served; I suppose it might help blind people find their way. I didn’t see many blind people on the streets, however.
- Umbrella lockers! Some public buildings had a rack at the entrance where you could place your umbrella, lock it, and take a key with you. A sure sign of too much rain! I guess we were lucky with our weather.
Tags: Japan Holidays