Here are some other helpful cultural hints and facts about Japan!
1- For a city that is as jam-packed as Tokyo is, you’d think that it would be a noisy, loud city. Au contraire, friend. The only loud and obnoxious people you’ll really find in Japan are foreigners. Trains are a great example of this. I’ve been packed like a sardine, unable to move, in a train, able only to hear the whispering of two girls together. People generally do not talk on the trains or in the stations, unless they happen to be travelling together. The Japanese tend to be a shy people and very respectful of those around them, never wishing to disturb.
Imagine this– in silence– for your whole commute.
Now, if you’re lucky enough to dive into a recently vacated seat on one of these things, you’ll be able to sleep your way in peace to work/school/wherever. However, with much practice and an early enough commute, you’ll soon develop the skill of sleeping on your feet. Sometimes the crowding helps in this case, you don’t have to worry about falling over– it’s not possible!
Just don’t miss your stop.
2- One popular form of advertising in Japan is the passing out of tissue packets to passerbys. In two years of living in Japan, I never once had to buy tissue– I got mine on the streets.
Ironically though, it is considered rude to blow your nose in public. Disgusting, actually. Constant sniffling is preferred. Should you really need to blow your nose, you need to excuse yourself and go do that in private.
I once was sitting on a somewhat empty train (it was the afternoon), and there were some European foreigners sitting across and a bit down from me. One girl blatantly blew her nose and I’ve never quite seen the equal of expression on the face of the Japanese woman across from her.
The girl clearly had no idea what she had done or why she was getting faces made at her.
I knew though.
3- So this seems to be a train-themed update. One huge issue in Japan is the suicide rate, which averages about 30,000 per year. Actually, 2012 was the first year in 15 that it has dipped below 30,000. I just read today that suicide accounts for 47% of the deaths of people in their 20s. That is alarming. Even children, due to pressure, disappointment, bullying, etc., have committed suicide.
One of the most common forms of suicide is train jumping. As the train is pulling into the station, the person jumps in front of the train. While being sad and gruesome, it is also a huge problem for commuters. Employees at the train stations can be seen passing out excuse notes for those late to work.
This is such a common thing that the train stations, in order to prevent this, have started charging the family of the deceased fines up to $12,000 or more the delays caused.
4- Moving on from that depressing subject to another not so awesome one. Japan has a serious declining birth rate. In June, Japan News reported that the decline in Japan’s population set another record in 2012 with the number of deaths exceeding births for the sixth year in a row.
What are the reasons for the declining birth rate? Not enough space, not enough money, couples getting married later in life, and the disenchantment with the family relationship that is typical (the father working all the time, no relationship with the kids, lack of intimacy in marriage (many couples sleep in separate bedrooms))…
Japan needs an example of a Godly marriage and what following God’s principles will do!
5- So, this is a bit long. Let’s end it on a funky note.
You don’t see people eating and walking in Japan. You just don’t. People sit and eat.
You also don’t see trash cans in Japan.
And you have to divide your trash.
But those are subjects for another day. 🙂