Archive for April, 2011
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I come from (Japan) and live in (France) countries where people are rather pessimistic and often complain. While I like to consider myself as an optimist, I am also guilty of complaining about each of these countries. In trying to cleanse my sins, I thought I’d write about some of the wonderful things in these countries:
- Japan is incredibly convenient. Subways and trains networks are densely laid out throughout the country and the trains run perfectly on time. Many stores are open late into the night (if not 24 hours) and shopping on weekends is not a problem at all.
- Food in France is amazing. People really appreciate the finer distinctions in their cuisine and the time and effort it takes to reach perfection as well as the chefs who become masters.
- Food in Japan is incredible as well, partially due to the Japanese appreciation of attention to details and partially due to Japanese people’s willingness to try new cuisines and adapt them to their tastes.
- Cities in France are simply beautiful, and not just Paris either. Many cities in France kept their ancient architecture and integrated their new construction tastefully. In very few places in France do you see the mindless concrete landscapes that inhabit much of the developed world.
- Cities and public spaces in Japan are incredibly clean. Trash and cigarette butts in Tokyo is a rare sight and public spaces are cleaned so well that you could almost eat off of them.
- People in France dress very well. It took a trip outside of France to realize how well French people dressed. People in France really do spend the money on fashion and pay attention to their everyday attire. They don’t simply raid the sales rack at the cheapest wholesale stores. I often find myself out-dressed by my students.
- Japanese people are incredibly empathetic and kind. There is a word in Japanese, 思いやり, that can be loosely translated to: consideration for others. Japanese people are taught to embrace this value from a young age. Furthermore, people in a service industry are extremely attentive and polite, operating under the slogan “the customer is god.”
- French people really do know how to take and enjoy their time off. Much of France shuts down during August as people flock to the beaches to enjoy their “vacance.” Even during the weekend, if the weather is nice, you can find the French out and about or having picnics in the parks.
- Japanese people pay incredible attention to details. Mastery and dedication exist throughout Japanese society at all levels. People cooking $5-bowls of ramen and cleaning the city hall (see above) exhibit just as much dedication people serving exquisite Japanese dinners and creating $5000 kimono dresses. Good enough is incredibly good in Japan.
- France has incredible healthcare. While I prefer not to know or experience this, I have found healthcare in France to be very reasonably priced and accessible. People in France really do believe that the state should look after the most basic needs of people.
Now if only the French and Japanese could appreciate what they have and accomplished…
After the recent tragedy in Japan, I honestly have not felt like blogging much. There is a word in Japanese called jishuku (自粛) which can be loosely translated into “self restraint” that people practice after major tragedies such as this. The restraint is normally focused on anything that may seem celebratory or cheerful (except in regards to the few positive news that came out of the tragedy). TV commercials were halted for the first few days after the earthquake and even when they returned, most were public service announcements as many companies refrained from advertising. Many companies are postponing new product announcements and releases for some time and corporate parties or even graduations are being canceled throughout the country. As a Japanese person, one can feel a slight sense of guilt or hesitation when trying to do something public or new in the time of crisis.
You can imagine that something like this would have a significant effect on the economy, and now that the earthquake is almost over one month past, politicians and people are starting to call for “restraint on self restraint” to return to normalcy, at least for those in minimally affected areas. While my blogging activities have nothing to do with the Japanese economy, I worry that if I don’t do it for long, it would become harder and harder to get back into it. I actually have a backlog of fully and partially written posts that I haven’t uploaded yet, which I plan to publish slowly as well as write new content when I’m inspired.
In the meantime the crisis in Japan still continues and they could use any form of assistance possible. While I have not done extensive research on where the best place to donate is, people tell me Google is “solid” (note: this is donating through Google, not donating to Google).
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