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…
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.
The Japanese have a firm adherence to a system of rules that form order in their society – the concept of honor…
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.
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.
It is considered disrespectful because it implies that you do not trust them – don’t be an asshole if you can’t help it.
Standing to the left on escalators so that other people who are in a hurry can get past you.
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.
And began to realize something that I’ll touch on later in this series…
The metaphors of garbage and the notions of personal space.
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…
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.
Next up… Part II
Wanderings in the Temples.
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