I’m not saying that any city or society is perfect, but from my short time here, I believe some things are just better in Japan. Here’s a list of what’s impressed me:
1. A sense of playfulness and joy in many people that really jars with the West’s idea of Japanese being shy and repressed. I have heard more laughter on this trip than I have ever heard in a city.
2. Astonishingly good service in shops, hotels, restaurants – always with a smile (photo top). If we could manage half their level of service in Ireland, we’d be doing very well.
3. City so safe that bicycles are left unlocked, keys left in scooters, purses left on outside tables when people go in to order food. At no time have I felt even vaguely threatened.
4. Best food presentation I have ever seen, and wonderful ceremony surrounding food. Obviously there is fast food as well, but a proper meal is cooked with love, served with care, includes a range of tastes and sensations, and is eaten with gratitude. It’s consistently uplifting. No wonder the place is awash in Michelin stars.
5. Best looking shops I have ever seen and lots of interesting things to buy. I’m not a huge shopper, but if you are (and can afford it), come here!
6. Heated seats on the subway in winter, heated toilet seats with built in bidets in the hotels, and a clear square that magically appears on the fogged up mirror after a shower.
7. People so well dressed Parisians almost look shabby in comparison.
8. City so clean that in parts of town even the sidewalks look freshly polished. What’s really strange about this is all the rubbish bins were removed after the poison gas attack in the subway, and yet it is a shock if you even see a cigarette butt on the street.
9. Smoking rooms that keep the air clean (even inside the smoking room) and separate smoking areas in outdoor public spaces.
10. Pet lovers never had it so good. There’s:
a. Pet drinking fountains.
b. Dogfood dispensing stations.
c. Cat cafes.
d. Pet buggies, stylish pet clothing, pet everything. The man in the photo had just about every pet gadget you can buy…