This is my first blog ever in a public website. I thought of sharing some of my experiences after started living in Japan.
I was living in Singapore from January 2001 to November 2010 just before landing in Tokyo, Japan. It’s almost a year passed by after having a great struggle to cope up with Japanese language and culture here. Though I said it as a struggle, but I got help by all means from my colleagues to total strangers. The wondering part is that you will get any help starting from your home till you reach your office seat. I enjoyed the respect given by the strangers while walking on the streets when we crossed each other. They just bow their heads and give way for you to cross first in narrow passages or if you wait for them to cross first and they thank so nicely for that small mannerism. I don’t think it’s a help offered. It’s just a good mannerism being thanked.
By nature they are soft spoken and humble. I would share some of the incidents happened during my trip to Nagano (Place where covered by snow) in December 2010. It was all alone trip immediately after landing in Tokyo. This was my first time to see snow in my life. I didn’t know any Japanese language to manage. I enjoyed whole three days with the help of the local Japanese, the station masters and others.
That morning, I went to the station and inquired about the train to Winter Olympics Venue. The person who was dressed in uniform of JR Lines (Japanese Railways) guided me with much effort, though she didn’t know English. As per she advised, I need to buy a ticket from the Automatic Ticket Vending machine which was completely in Japanese. I just asked an old lady standing near me to help me to buy the ticket. After telling the station name to her, she said that the ticket has to be bought from lower floor and she and her grand daughter who was carrying a big suitcase walked down the staircase with great difficulty. Since I saw them struggling to help me, I said that, I would manage it and no need to come. But they still walked to the AVM and helped me to buy the ticket. I just could only say “Arigatou Gozaimasu” (Thank you) and didn’t have time to take a picture along with them, which I usually do it.
Just before getting into the train, I wanted to confirm with the Train Driver(Not sure about exact term) who was just standing near the cabin. He was so sincere with his watch, clock etc to start exactly on time. Though I disturbed him, he asked me to quickly get into the train. He started the train and was in the move. A few minutes, setting to auto mode, he came to me opening the cabin door came to my seat. He sat on his heels with a route map to explain about the stations. I was totally surprised to see the train driver in-front of me. He explained the station number and how many stops from there etc. I could never imagine to get such a help from him. Was really amazing!!
In another occasion, I was standing alone on the road side after having my lunch to go to onsen (Hot water bath). I did not know how to take a bus and even could not find a bus stop around there. No one was around and one young girl was crossing me. I asked her about the onsen and she showed me the bus stop by pointing her finger. But still I could not manage to identify the bus stop. Finally she herself came along with me to show the bus stop. She walked up to a small stand which was just few steps ahead written as bus stop which was not so high enough to identify easily. I had never imagined that as a bus stop and was wondering. I thanked her for this help and she left the place. In the meanwhile, I started playing with the snow making it like a ball and throwing on a wall over there. Suddenly, to my surprise a car stopped in front of me. I could not understand why the car was stopping near me. I was eager to know and waiting patiently to see. The windows opened and that young girl asked me to get into the car. Actually she came here with her boy friend (may be, not sure). I got into the car with little hesitation and he drove for few minutes and dropped me near the onsen. I could not believe this at all. I thanked them with great gratitude and took a picture along with them. We cannot imagine such help anywhere.
Though there was little hesitation and struggle during this transfer to Japan, I have slowly started liking Japan and the people over here after interacting with them. I feel that there is a lot to be learned from them and to be followed.