Are These Things Surprising for You?

Every country has unique cultural aspects, which probably seem unusual or strange to foreigners. We shouldn’t expect the same things outside of our homeland. On the internet, there are some discussions amongst non-Japanese tourists about the things, which they felt were strange when they visited Japan. I picked up some of them. What do you think?

In Japan, taxi drivers always wear a white shirt and a tie. Imagine, you get into a clean, shiny black taxi without opening the door yourself. (It’s automatic.) Drivers are so polite; they treat you as if you are a lord. (Remember, you are a customer-sama.)

If you go to a big department store at opening time, you’ll see staff in line and bowing to you saying “Irasshaimase“. Likewise, staff bow and welcome you in a restaurant, bank, shop, office, and hotel.

In hotels, toiletries (soap, shower gel, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, razor, shower cap) are provided in each room. In a Ryokan (Japanese inn), staff come to your room to prepare your bedding while you’re having dinner in a different room. After dinner, you come back to your room to find the bed ready.

Cities are clean. You barely ever see dust or trash. My German friend was so surprised to see a red-light district in Japan, because it was tidy and there were no drunken people lying on the ground.

It’s safe. It’s normal to leave a bag to keep seats in a cafe while ordering at the counter. People don’t try to steal your belongings; I have a friend who lost her wallet somewhere. 1 week after she got a small package with her wallet inside, nothing was stolen. Somebody found the wallet and sent it back to her.

Many people observe the traffic lights very rigidly.

There are lots of stop buttons in buses. (Some people say it’s because the Japanese are too shy to ask others to press a button.)

Vending machines are everywhere, maybe one every 100 meters. Even cigarette and alcohol are sold in machines.

Trains are hardly ever late. Some marks are printed on platforms, which show where train doors arrive. If you stand on the marks, the train doors will be open in front of you.

Most people don’t care about religions. They hold their wedding ceremonies in a Christian church; they celebrate Christmas day (but not Easter), visit Shinto shrines on New Year’s Day, and ask Buddhist temples for a funeral.

Talking about Japanese personality traits, it’s said that they work really hard, are polite, abide by rules, and respect the harmony of the group and society over the individual. (Because of this, Japanese are regarded as the best tourists in the world by many hotel owners in Europe!).

Are these things surprising for you? How is it different in your country?

[日本語]

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