This is the second time in the last ten years that I have had the opportunity to return to Japan. People frequently think of Japan when they travel there, with spring being the colorful Cherry Blossom Festival, autumn being filled with red and yellow leaves, and winter being the snow-capped Mount Fuji. I visited Japan in mid-September when the weather was hot and the maple leaves were still green. Although the trip was just 4 days and 4 nights long, it was quite stunning in terms of witnessing firsthand Japanese culture and people at the places as well as listening to valuable sharing from the tour guides that still remained in my mind.
- Japan with an aging population
The first thing you notice when you arrive at the airport is a large number of older folks doing various jobs. Even the waiters at restaurants are over 50 years old. Despite their advanced age, they move with grace and agility. This impression makes me feel that Japan has an older population, but they never stop working and are always respected at work. Something to be admired and difficult to find in other countries.
- Japanese people are really enthusiastic about supporting others
Many visitors to Japan are intimidated by the language barrier because the majority of Japanese people do not speak English. But don't be concerned.
One of the customs of Japanese people is to always carry a notebook and pen with them in case they need to explain something to someone who does not speak their language.
Japanese are willing to stop for a lengthy time if you don't know the way or need to ask for directions. When you don't know where you are or need directions, they are willing to stop for a long time to look at a map and show you the way or lead you, which takes a long time but is still very patient, happy, and friendly.
- Tokyo by night
When the quiet streets fall into darkness, the crossroad in Tokyo is always crowded with passengers. There are many high-end fashion stores, karaoke, restaurants... The streets here are always crowded, "congested" with a large number of people walking. At night, the streets are decorated with bright, sparkling lights.
Going there, I saw firsthand the dynamic lifestyle of young people who desire to break out of the standards and restrictions that people often think about Japanese.
Young individuals in this city dye their hair three or four different colors on their heads. Men and women wore anime-style clothing with numerous contrasting colors, their steps hurriedly following the flow of people.
In the eyes of many people, Tokyo is always bustling and rushing. But I believe that every person who comes to Tokyo can find a peaceful corner in their own soul. And that is also what creates the attractiveness and appeal of Japan to all visitors, especially to me.
- The hurried night train
When they board the last train of the day, many Japanese say they want to know what life is like outside of "office life" in Japan. Everyone was fatigued; some had taken a nap before arriving at the stop, while others were engrossed in their iPhones, reading news or surfing Line, Twitter, etc... They seldom spoke to the folks around them. Life in Japan seems hard and stressful to me. The signs of fatigue are obvious on the faces of officers after a long working day.
These are only a few of my observations and sentiments from this journey. By this trip, Japan reminds a foreigner like myself of a distinct feature, a full contrast to other cultures.
Despite the fact that the schedule was only four days in Tokyo, there are many notable places in Japan that I have yet to visit. That, however, is a positive thing because it will encourage me to come back again.
***Last but not least, thank you to IVC - my beloved company - for giving me a fantastic and memorable trip full of new experiences. It made me feel more inspired to work hard and contribute to the Company's growth.
Japan, see you soon!
(*The blog is based on the personal perspective and experience of one of the training trip participants in Japan.)