Having stayed in Japan for the past week and a half, a continuous thought has amazed my mind: Everyone is just so nice. At first this was a simple pleasure to marvel upon, to enjoy the wide smiles, constant bowing and an evidently genuine eagerness to be of aid to one another. But soon it dawned on me that the very fact such behaviour amazed me likewise points to the unfortunate detriment of my own society. At what point did a cashier not only have to don their uniform but also a frown?
Before stepping into such waters I’d like to make it clear I’ve worked in retail before, I understand the woes of the aggravating customer and the boredom of long hours behind a counter. The Japanese I have met likely do too. Yet when anyone appears, they are extremely welcoming and helpful. My mother’s first experience of a Japanese chemists was filled with mayhem and bustling bodies, and rather than idly watch her struggle an attendant decided to make a path through for such a poor tourist to make her escape! I’d like to attribute this only to a particularly helpful worker, to perhaps save our own culture some credit for its comparative general lack of such kindness. But I simply cannot, for wherever I have gone I’ve been met with similar smiles and an insistence to help. Of the few Japanese words I’ve picked up, Arigato, or ‘Thank you’, has by far been my most used, and rightly so. Continue reading