A Gift From Tokyo

Recently, I was in Tokyo for a business trip, and had a few spare hours per day to enjoy the city, culture, and people. It is considered one of the most densely populated cities, and yet there is such organized chaos.

I was reading up on Japanese culture as well as “do’s & don’ts” which were so interesting. Simply, there are things that I observed in Tokyo that I have not seen in the U.S. And quite frankly, there’s an envy and appreciation of their lifestyle that resonates with me.

Although the duration of my stay was short, I noticed a few admirable qualities that I want to incorporate more into my life.

Attention to Detail: I was impressed with everything that I interacted with from the moment of my arrival.  At the airport, the jetway & the floors were immaculate.  The lighting had a positive energy, and even the immigration officers has a good disposition, even to the point that my passport stamp was in alignment square with the edges of my passport.  At the hotel, the cleanliness of the room made me feel like I was the first guest staying in the room – everyday.  The sushi chef served each piece of with minimal sauce that was the appropriate size and portion. 

Courtesy:  There are a bunch of “don’ts” that I read about, but what resonated was that they were not negative, but embodies the priority on courtesy.  Don’t stick your chopstick vertically into your rice as it resembles a funeral ritual.  Don’t wear your shoes inside the home. They should be removed once you are through the door as the “outdoor” shoes are considered unclean.  Don’t skip the line when waiting for a train or anywhere you have to wait as there is typically a single file line. 

Mindfulness: There seems to be a focus on the task at hand.  They do not eat on the run.  There are allocated tables and seats near food stands or kiosks.  I never saw anyone walking and eating a sandwich or burger or even drinking.  No one was eating or drinking on public transportation.  This is probably why the public stations, buses, and subways are so clean.  No one was on their phone while walking on the street or in the busy train stations.  They would step aside, stop to answer the phone, and politely tell the caller that they would call them when arrived at their destination.  It led to such a focused intention of arriving to their destination. What a complete contrast to the “L” & buses I’ve ridden on in Chicago!

I experienced such sense of pride in their actions and behaviors.  I am not joking when I say that everyone, yes, everyone exceeded my expectations. Regardless of their minimal English, their responsibility to me, or their role, I felt everyone did their best with the utmost politeness.

While these qualities are somewhat incorporated into my life, I definitely want to practice building on them to be a more robust person.  Upon my return, I have been steadily slowing down, allowing more time for tasks, being more deliberate in my work, and most importantly,  appreciating being more mindful.