This is Japan in a nutshell. Forget all the crazy stuff with the weird tv programs and the cosplaying—that’s just the outer shell that gets attention because it’s unusual. This, this is the beauty of the country. I’ve had little grandmothers chase me down because I dropped my shinkansen tickets. In amusement parks, the attendants do their upmost to get lost items (usually cardigans or kids’ shoes) back to the owners—before the owners even realize they’d lost said item(s). I’ve had complete strangers not only give my thorough directions but have offered to drive me to the place I needed to go.
It is so, so, so hard to go back to the States after you get the J-treatment. I mean, Japan has its downside (“What is this madness you call pizza???”), but the general attitudes of everyone—even the so-called hardcore yankees (two of whom who, on a blazing summer day, helped me find one of my schools when I was heinously lost in the labyrinth that is the neighborhood in which said school is located)—is the epitome of the mindset that I wish everyone would adopt. Because yelling at people gets you nowhere. And being able to empathize with people kinda helps make this country a really nice place to live in.
Okay, I don’t usually add on to posts, but let me tell you a story.
Back in 2008 I traveled to Japan with my high school, and because it was the 20 year anniversary of our “sister city” partnership, the mayor of our sister city paid for our entire group to go to Tokyo Disney Sea. We were all elated, got in when the park opened, rushed to do everything we could.
Well, there’s a little ride near the front of their Tomorrowland where you ride around on a little rollercoaster-style pod. Kind of like bumper cars meets the disney tea cup ride but it’s also in water. It’s wicked fun and even though it was November, my friends and I were all willing to go on. One of my friends was wearing a scarf her host family had knitted for her, and on one of the turns of the ride, it flew off her neck and we watched in horror as it drifted across the water and got sucked under another pod carrying people.
We get to the end of the ride and explain to the attendants what happened, and as soon as she lets slip it’s from family, they all but rocket into action. They shut down the whole ride, and not only did they get the scarf out of the machinery, they blow-dried it for us so she could wear it again. It was freaking remarkable.
People in Japan are hella nice, yo. It meant a lot then, and even 5 years later, it still means a lot now.