Wanderings in the Land of the Rising Sun – Part I

When I was growing up in the late 1980’s – early 1990’s Hip-Hop was the soundtrack of my life.

One of my unofficial theme songs from that period happens to be a seminal work
from Eric B. and Rakim – the track “Move the Crowd“.

During my time in Japan I learned to move with the crowd while being inhabited with a sense of pensive cool…

A younger version of me in a state of pensive cool.

 


 

I bring this up because one of the most important things that I learned as I traveled in Japan – was that one must move with the crowd lest he/she is moved by it.

You can’t stop, people have places to go… Move with the crowd!

The Japanese have a firm adherence to a system of rules that form order in their society – the concept of honor…

Is cool.

Using a money tray is an example of that.

Instead of handing money to the cashier directly, you place it in a money tray.

Because doing otherwise is bad manners and it also helps them in giving you back change.

Yen not Dollars

I exchanged in American Dollars for the Yen in the airport.

Pay attention when the cashier is counting back your money, they will show you your change and then count it back to you.

Do not count your money back in front of them.

Why?

It is considered disrespectful because it implies that you do not trust them – don’t be an asshole if you can’t help it.


And…

Standing to the left on escalators so that other people who are in a hurry can get past you.

Me in the mirror on the escalator, standing to my left…

The energy was different from anywhere else in the States, as I bore witness to the populace moving with concerted purpose – and I found myself enthralled by the perpetual sense of motion.

The energy was noticeably different – with the absence of tension being so palpable I felt my stress levels began to dissipate.

Finding Zen on a Bullet Train.

And began to realize something that I’ll touch on later in this series…

The metaphors of garbage and the notions of personal space.


I spied… No garbage in the alleys.

Cars and people coexisted on the streets

I walked to my right on the streets.

There were no garbage receptacles on the streets, because it is expected that one will take their garbage with them – imagine that happening in the States?

The lack of trash shook me to the core – and I felt a tinge of sadness envelope me because I became aware of my tacit acceptance it being a standard part of the landscape in the United States.

I saw police with guns but without the militaristic energy of the police in the States and people walking the street without the reservations of fear – at night.

And it dawned on me…

That we live in a police state in the USA.

We can’t police ourselves, so the “state” has to do it for us…

I found myself asking… Do we lack the honor needed to do so in the US of A?

Is that great?

It certainly didn’t feel like it…

I didn’t feel a sense of trepidation in Japan 

People engaging with the sincerity of eye contact coupled with a bow.

In a restaurant on the grounds of one of the temples.

I slurped my soup from the bowl without shame – because slurping is taken by the chef as a compliment of the highest order, when I paid my bill the server and I exchanged bows.

At that moment it felt good – being so far away from home.

Buckwheat noodles with green onions and fried Tofu skin.

Next up… Part II

Wanderings in the Temples.

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About Shun P. Writes

Author, Amateur Genealogist, Writer, Poet, possessor of 2 cents, blogger and eternal student of life, who harbors a firm belief in his Grandmother's mantra that: "People need to get off of their rump and do something". All while keeping in mind that a cheering section will often get in the way.