What You Need to Know about Japan

So, obviously, this list is not meant to be all-inclusive, but rather a collection of observations, facts and things YOU need to know about Japan.

1. Japan is AWESOME.  Japanese are great people– hard working, very polite, very intuitive, very helpful and respectful.  When you visit Japan, the people will often try to speak your language to welcome you and accommodate you.  I know it’s often the case in America where we expect people to speak our language and demand English in other places.  So, it’s an awesome and humbling attitude to receive from the Japanese this type of welcome!

2. You can get anywhere by train in Japan.  Seriously.  There’s pretty little need for a personal car and beside, parking can be difficult.  Most people travel by train, bike and foot.  There is a public bus service in Japan.

CONFESSION: I’m very intimidated by the bus systems and have only ridden it few times.  Most of those times, I was accompanied by a Japanese friend.

FACT: It’s illegal to ride a bike and have an open umbrella at the same time.  You’ll get a ticket!  I’m guessing you’d get a ticket for texting and biking too… although I’ve seen my fair share of that too!

3. FACT: There are no short-cuts in Japan.  Japanese cities often have many winding and confusing streets that was a defensive technique when the cities were being built centuries ago.  These streets helped keep enemies from advancing very far due to the confusion. These were smart people! Today, when tempted to try a new short-cut in Japan, tell yourself: “that street doesn’t go where I think it’s going to go.  Stick to the tried and true.”  I see a life lesson floating around in there…  See also: http://www.skwirk.com.au/p-c_s-14_u-177_t-516_c-1919/act/history/medieval-and-early-modern-societies-japan/life-in-feudal-japan/castle-towns

4.  Outward appearance is very important in Japan.  At most stores, they offer gift-wrapping for their products.  Great care must be taken care of, because the effort you put into wrapping the gift is a reflection on what’s inside. From the mouth of my Japanese friend Yuiko- if you give me a wonderful diamond but with a poor wrapping, I will not appreciate it as much.  But if you give me a mediocre gift with a careful wrapping, I will appreciate it very much!

I guess it is a reflection of what you (the giver) think of the gift as well.  The same goes for your personal appearance.  If you take care to look good, people will take you more seriously and appreciate what you have to offer.

How this relates to the Gospel: the Gospel message is awesome, therefore we need to take care with how we present it.  Is it valuable to us?  Then we need to be careful and excited and purposeful with our presentation of the Gospel.

5. Time is very important in Japan.  Everything is very timed– If your train is scheduled to leave at 7:32am (and that train will be packed), then it will leave at exactly 7:32am.  If you are scheduled to meet someone at Tully’s, you need to be there 5-10 minutes early.  No fashionably late in Japan.  You’ll frustrate and disrespect a lot of people.  Note- Japanese people are forgiven for being late to work only under the most extreme of circumstances.  See: http://thisjapaneselife.org/2011/03/09/japan-work-ethic/

More to come!  Stay tuned…

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