Thursday, 12 November 2009

The black side of living in Japan..

Is Japan an all perfect country?

No it is not. For me, it is the best country in the world, relatively. And I will tell you now about one black side of living in Japan.

Every day, at 13:35 I reach that station. Not 13:34, not 13:36, it is 13:35. Every day I exit the train from that right door of the same train carriage I am in, and with me there the man in the tux exits and heads directly to the same vending machine. With us an older woman exits and heads left. Today she is wearing all black maybe she has some kind of a special occasion.

Going up the escalator, yes, there are these 3 people ahead of me: A school girl and two school boys. I then head towards exit #1, where I will find the traffic light flashing to tell the world that it will change to red any second now. So I run, along with the school girls beside me, who are laughing. One of them sees me and mumbles some words to her friends in Japanese thinking I can’t understand, but I just reply with the usual head shake and smile.

On my left a car is ready to leave a building so I stop to give it space. The same driver, same head shake and same smile. I shake my head back, and I do my best to smile fighting the Jordanian blood in me preventing me from smiling back on streets. I walk for 5 minutes and enter that store to buy something to drink, and there she is that old lady who is shopping and looking at some items. Sometimes I find her on my left and sometimes on my right but she is there! She shakes her head to me, as we have become best friends because of our daily meetings in the store. If one day I did not find her, I should definitely hurry to attend her funeral.
You got the idea. Every day is the same and before is the same as after. Weekdays in Japan have the worst routines, to its maximum extent.

The change comes on weekends. Not because I have much free time, but only because these people I see on my way everyday to university are taking the day off, unlike myself. Yes everybody takes the weekend off except for the major portion of "Toudai" students. On weekends, on late nights and until sunrise they are there in their places working, as usual. Ofcourse after the huge effort I spend all week, the one day I take off, if existed, is usually spent in bed.

Yes, I get results.
Yes, there are achievements.
But all this is not for free you know?


Cheng said...

The similar feeling can be found in Kyushu, except that it's more relaxed and I used bicycle to go to university. Life is undoubtedly more repetitive and peaceful in Japan than my chaotic home country. I can't really decide which is better. Enjoyed reading your post by the way!

André said...

Hey, I've been reading your blog for some time now and I think it's really great!

I've never been to Japan, but I think it's my biggest dream. But yeah, I think I understand what you say in this post. That's the price to pay for living in a country like Japan I think. Wish I'd visit it soon...

Keep up the great posting!
Cheers from Portugal!

nido said...

Interesting post.
You see, I was once talking to my friends in Amman about the program khawater and then I mentioned you since they are one of the girls said: It's a great country and all, but at the same time you can't find indivisualism over there. Everybody is living the same routine and at some point people become like machines! and then she said: imagine a person who lived in Japan all his life and then moved to a less civilized country, he'll find it so difficult to adjust to the new environment, but if the oppisite happens, like you for an example, you'll succeed in Japan, and you'll get used to the system, because it's the only way to survive over there.
I think some of what she said that day made sense, and now reading this post made it even more realistic, No?!

Abdelfattah said...

I've always wanted to visit Japan, never thought I will hear a feedback from a Jordanian there:)

This is what I always thought:if things are too perfect it will become boring somehow!

That's what makes Jordan amusing :)
Donno how ur gonna come back if ur used to the smiling and the head shake thing:)

Good luck and take care

subzero said...


You are welcome anytime.

Yeah what she said is accurate. I even hear people coming from European countries like Portugal or France saying "I would never go back to an unorganized country like mine!!". Imagine?

Then you will definitely enjoy reading the rest of the blog for sure. Being too perfect has drawbacks, yeah, but the positives are too many to be counted!

Blue Rose said...

The same thing happens to me everyday!!! I have some friends whom I don't know but I'm used to see everyday. And I always know where I will be walking when the traffic light turns green.

Actually, It bothered me for a while, so I did so many things to break this fatal routine, like changing the time I go out, or changing the train's carriage I use everyday.

Now, I concluded that the routine everyone of us adjusted, is just the best routine to do, so we don't have to change it at all! like train 9:41 is always better than train 9:49, because those 8 minutes really count so I don't have to waste them just to break the routine.

aoj said...

One thing i always try to convince myself to keep as one of bad habits; The delay, i think it has many advantages in our life as Jordanians. It makes some challenge as you always come late and let someone bother you; so Communication will result. i addition, it breaks the routine life as each time you are trying to come exactly as planned but you won't be able coz you are not Japanese that make life easy. beside Stress Relief of being on time....By this, i think you will break the boring routine life.

André said...

Somehow I agree when you say that things would become boring if things were to perfect, but honestly I think perfection doesn't exist, since the human being is not perfect! But I also think that pursuing the perfection is not a worthless thing, despite its non-existence.
There are things in society that just need to be well organized, like I think they are in Japan (don't know many details, only subzero can tell us :) ).

Subzero, is there much controversy around politicians in Japan? I've always wanted to know something about that, because one thing that I really hate in the ocidental society is the corruption that exists within it.
I always had the (maybe childish) dream of living in a "world" filled with honest people.

Sven Inge said...

Ah I've always imagined Japan to be as you tell us about in this post. I have never been to the country, but have a huge dream about someday going there.

The reason why I have imagined Japan to be like that might be a line i remember from the movie The Last Samurai, where Nathan Algren says this about the Samurais: "They are an intriguing people. From the moment they wake they devote themselves to the perfection of whatever they pursue. I have never seen such discipline."
I believe this still goes on even after they have become modernized.

Great blog, nice work/writing. Keep up the good work!

Kanji_chan said...

You forgot to mention the lady with high-heel shoes that always succeeds in throwing herself in the train in the very last moment before the doors close =D

I like weekends because I get to see japanese families with their kids and pets. This gives a feeling of a slower pace life compared with the CRAZY paced weekdays.

As for the high school girls I believe they are commenting on how tall you are (masha'Alla) since your height is rare here =D