When asked about the differences between Japan and Europe, I really don’t know where to start from. There are so many particularities in every aspect, which create a feeling of being in another planet!
My first impressions from this time’s visit were as soon as I landed. Tokyo Haneda airport: thousands of people, huge spaces, all quiet and clean! Same conditions at the streets: traffic, many pedestrians, but still, almost no sound of it at all! Feels like watching a movie on mute mode!
All is calm, stress-free, at peace, slow. Which brings me to another peculiarity that I noticed: slow traffic, but, very fast cars. The fastest on the market, actually! It was confusing, to see the streets’ impeccable conditions – no holes, no bumps, good visibility, signs everywhere – and to see all these fast cars driving so slowly! I can understand that the speed limit in the city is low, but I was dazzled to discover that the speed limit on highways is just 80 Klm/h!!
What runs superfast is the Internet! Most people are using their smartphones or tablets, when they were commuting, eating, and even when they are walking. Internet reception works fine in the Metro, which can be 40 meters underground.
Tokyo is so far the cleanest place I have ever been. All public spaces are regularly cleaned, even if they are already spotless! Trash bins don’t exist at the streets and smoking is allowed only in designated areas, indoors or outdoors. It is not allowed to smoke out on the street, but there are smoking areas in several places, also permitted in some restaurants.
Design and care for detail is everywhere! In how people dress, how food is ornamented, how shops take care of their windows.
What touched me the most in Japan, is the character of humbleness and the sense of respect. When a person is talking, even if you don’t agree in the full, you stay quiet and listen carefully – there is always a possibility to learn something new, and the urge to prove that you know everything is just useless!
Respect between colleagues, in the family, towards a guest or a customer, but most of all, respect for Sensei – the Teacher. The literal translation of Sensei is “person born before another”, making absolute sense in this way, to esteem someone who is older than yourself, obviously being more experienced, probably possessing more knowledge and information! How is this so indisputable in Japan and so hard to find in most of Europe in our times? A Professor, a Conductor, a Lecturer or a Soloist is a Sensei and the authority that this person has is simply undeniable.
All of my Japanese experience was for me a Sensei, teaching me new things and reminding me of old important values, for which I am truly grateful!