This is pretty broad again, but has to be mentioned among the reasons as to why Japan is so great – The people. I won’t go on about the Japanese stoicism and other clichés, but will try and explain a bit about my experience with Japanese people and what makes them so damn nice.
This is sort of linked with Liam’s ‘Are you being served?’ blog post and his comments about first class service from regular staff in a regular shop. Just about wherever you go in Japan and with whatever profession you encounter, Japanese people will always be doing their job proud, delivering first class service whether you are in a back street noodle joint, convenience store or a Michelin star restaurant. You will be treated as the customer should and with due respect, even if you are a foreigner….it might take them a bit of time to pluck up the courage to speak to you, but you will be treated well. Surely this idea of first class service in a shop/restaurant etc should be practised all over the world, but alas it is not which is perhaps why it is so obvious in Japan.
Many westerners will often believe that Japanese are very reserved and introverted people, keeping themselves to themselves. However in general, given the chance, this is the opposite to my experience. Salarymen after a few drinks have been the source of some of my most interesting and funny moments in Japan. People, especially in the rural areas where few foreigners get to, will also go out of their way on occasion to greet you, or even perhaps give you a nice gift completely out of the blue. It is always great to hear customers come back from Japan and talk about the time that they were slightly lost in Kyoto for example and a non-English speaking stranger, helped them back on to a train in the other direction, got off the train with them, walked out of the station to a particular hotel/restaurant/shop, smile and say, “bye bye”, bow and walk off to continue what they were doing! They didn’t want any money or to mug them. They just wanted to help and make sure that they enjoyed their time in Japan. I have heard many stories like this, but each one unique and no less heart-warming to hear.
I am aware that I am generalising about the people of Japan, but I am sure that if you visit, your experiences with people will be largely positive, providing you with many delightful travelling tales to tell on your return….That’s if anyone will bother listening to you! The people are definitely one of the reasons as to why Japan is so great.