Monday, October 29, 2007

culture shock

There are a lot of people in Japan who ride bicycles. I don't because I am afraid I will be run off the road or broadsided by another bicycle or car. (I have actually seen many people broadside or clip each other with their bicycles.) If you've ever ridden a bicycle in the area where I live, you'll realize that there are no road rules.

Walking through the shopping arcade can also be quite scary, people are supposed to get off their bicycles and push it through the arcade, instead, they speed through and think that by clanging their bicycle bells we'll have time to jump aside...just get off your bicycle and push it.

The other night, Satoshi and I were walking before dinner. Most areas in our neighborhood do not have sidewalks, so we have to "share" the road with cars, other pedestrians and bicycles. So, as Satoshi and I walked, a high schooler came behind us on his bicycle. There was lots of space to go around us, but no, he wanted to go straight. So he came really close behind us and clicked his tongue and gave us a "tsk" and a sigh...because we were in HIS way. As he pedalled on, I was yelling at him in Japanese, "Dude, doesn't your bicycle have a bell? I guess you don't have a mouth either." Cowardly, he sped off, looking back every so often. I figured if he came back, I would then yell at him in English.

When I studied here during college many moons ago, I was amazed at how many Japanese said "please", "excuse me", "thank you" and "I'm sorry"....they had manners! Nowadays, I am truly saddened. No one uses their mouth anymore, they just push their way off the trains and buses. No "excuse me" I need to get off the bus, no "I'm sorry" for stepping on your foot, "thank you" for letting me pass...nothing. It is sad that people are in such a rush or involved with text messaging/cell phone/hand held games that they do not have time to at least be civil with each other.

It is also sad that they only think about themselves. Like when riding an escalator, as soon as the person in front gets off, they stop and talk to their friends or just stand there. They don't think that maybe they are in other people's way, that there are others behind them riding the escalator...get off and step away from the escalator...and when you do realize that you are in the way, at least say, "sorry".

Getting on and off the trains are the same way. Once I had to shout and push someone out of the way to get onto the train because as soon as she got onto the train, she stood right in front of the door...move away from the door and move in towards the back of the train car! there are others behind you that want to ride the train too!

This type of attitude is quite a shock for me because growing up, I was often told, "if you want something, ask, you have a mouth". So, I use my mouth to say "I'm sorry" when I bump into someone, or "excuse me" when I want to get past someone, or "thank you" when someone lets me pass.

I could go on and on. I guess I'll just keep using my mouth and hopefully other will catch on and start using their mouths too.


Anonymous said...

How very interesting. Kinda sounds like NYC. ;-)


Unknown said...

Oh boy do I understand your complaints! When I'm in Japan, I just deal with it because I'm in their world.. that's how they want it. But I live in Waikiki. When they are here, illegally riding their bikes on the sidewalks in Waikiki, that makes me so mad because I got a ticket once years ago! The Japanese tourists also frequently get hit by cars because they are so unattentive when walking on the streets. They insist on standing off the curb in the street rather than waiting on the sidewalk for signals to change. They also have some need to stand and talk story or figure out where they are going in the middle or the edge of the crosswalks. Now that we have the law that we cannot drive through until the pedestrian is on the sidewalk it really annoys me some days just trying to drive out of Waikiki! Once a tourist pulls his rental car over and turns on the hazzard lights right in front of the Tiffany & Co. store on Kalakaua Ave. then gets out and walks to the store like he was in Tokyo or something! This was in the middle or traffic and all of us in the left lane had to try to merge over to pass. I'll stop now before I upset some tourist...

OkiHwn said...

Couldn't agree with you more! Not bad here on Okinawa but what you say is what I dislike about mainland Japan!

K and S said...

I've never lived in NYC, Paz, but have visited and didn't think it was at all like Japan. In fact I thought the people there were nicer.

Thanks Rick and Nate, glad to know it isn't in my imagination! p.s. I still have a hard time understanding and abiding the crosswalk law in Hawaii, Rick.

Take care everyone.

SteamyKitchen said...

After being in China for 2 weeks, I was so sick of the pushing and rudeness! It was crazy!

K and S said...

Jaden, I can't get over China trying to teach its people manners for the Olympics?

Pushing and rudeness aside, your trip still sounded fantastic.

Take care.