Last thoughts on Japan

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The culture has taken some getting used to. I have noticed the sexist points from that advert (which caused a stir on the internet) regarding putting make up on in the train, to constant make up adverts on the trains to notices such as this one on the ‘baby holder’.

Bowing obviously is a massive part of the culture and at times it appears polite and graceful. At other times it is too much and appears robotic, mechanical. I have noticed societal enforcement of rules and cultural ways. Everywhere I looked there were rules upon rules from the pedantic to the polite. It feels as though there is very little room for free expression or rebellion.

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(One of the ‘rules’ that made little sense to me)

I understand that Japan is an incredibly safe place with very low crime rates and perhaps the social conformity and rules is the reason behind this but… are people too introvert and self conscious? Does it leave little room for being different?

People felt unapproachable in Japan. Not simply because many people I found spoke very little or no English. It felt very different to the warmth and openness I felt in Bali where a wave on the street from locals was a regular occurrence. In Japan it felt like locals found it difficult to make eye contact or to look at another person.

Suicide is apparently a common occurrence in Japan. A forest near Mt Fuji is known as the suicide forest. With the cities so intense, gambling so rife and a big part of the culture not to mention the social conformity and constraints on individuals I’m beginning to see why suicides could be high in Japan. When we arrived in our first station stop at the Japanese alps the station announced that a train would be late as someone has been struck by a train. A week later in Tokyo a train was delayed due to passenger injury. Of course without knowing the circumstances one cannot be sure either of these were suicide attempts.. either way, it was a shock to the system.

I am not suggesting that one culture is ‘better’ than another or that the culture in Japan has a negative effect on society. I can merely state what I noticed and thoughts that have come to mind in two weeks of being immersed in one part of the country. It certainly is an interesting culture and extremely different to cultures I have experienced so far.

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