In late June I jumped on a last-minute travel deal to Tokyo, two months after Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.
Back In Business
It’s been two months since the devastating earthquake and tsunami, but one thing is clear: Japan is back on its feet and welcoming visitors with open arms. Everyone I met was in high spirits and as friendly as can be. The only noticeable aftermath of the Fukushima plant disaster is a concerted effort at energy conservation, with landmarks like the Rainbow Bridge going dark at night. Other than that, the food is safe and the atmosphere is fine with independent measurements around Tokyo showing average radiation around Tokyo at about half the US average.
I hit the streets of Tokyo and Kamakura, walking daily marathons from 4:30am to nightfall trying to see everything in the short week I had.
Now This Is A Society!
Immediately after the earthquake and tsunami, the Japanese people organized, sorted through the destruction, politely waited in line for rations, and immediately began rebuilding. No one wasted a minute waiting for government assistance. They even set up a system for reuniting victims with lost cash. Quite a contrast to the looting, rioting, and violence in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
I am in absolute heaven being among the efficient, organized, trustworthy, and polite Japanese society. When walking down the sidewalk, you walk on the left. When riding an escalator you stand on the left, pass on the right. When riding the metro, you don’t yak on the phone. When taking change, you put it in your pocket without counting it. When you’ve got a cold or flu, you wear a mask to prevent spreading germs to others. Now this is a civilized society!
From the youth at Odaiba to the alleyway Ramen Chefs, I never encountered a rude person. Not one. I can’t say that about any other country I’ve been to (well, Switzerland comes close). Only twice did I appear lost, and in both cases, locals approached me and asked if I needed help.
Photography In Japan
Being the home of Canon and Nikon, photography is welcome everywhere in Japan as you can imagine. The only places I found where photography is not allowed are inside shrines. I saw a few “No Photo” signs among piles of fish at Tsujiki Fish Market, but this is probably a result of clumsy tourists getting in the way of the fast-paced rush to get the fish out. Other than that, no one seems to care about picture-taking.