Why I like Japan is a bit odd.

It is quiet. I know how that sounds. Silent? It's not exactly the first thought that comes to mind when you think of Japan, especially of Tokyo. With its constant din of announcements, crowded streets, packed trains, jingles, chimes, and high school girls squealing "kawaii". But it is. Quiet.

Ride a packed rush hour train and you'll understand. Every morning I squeeze onto the same train, the 8:37, or perhaps the 8:42 if I'm late. And it is a squeeze. There really are men with white gloves politely cramming you inside. Sometimes you are compressed so hard into the train carriage that your spine pops because someone's shoulder is pushing into your back. Especially if you're tall.

But once the doors have closed and your locked into that space. It's silent. Nobody talks. Each individual unit of humanity in there exists as a bubble of isolation. Heads wrapped in the data emitted from mobile phone screens, or surrounded by the world inside game devices, manga, and books, or within the soundscape of their headphones. Everyone withdraws into themselves. But we're all connected, touching. In fact, this is probably the most intimate many of us will be with another human that day. Yet each of us is quiet. And it's peaceful. Safe. Nice. Comforting. There are no loud people talking on their phones, subjecting all around them to their inane apparently one-sided conversations. No one is telling the person next to them to just stop fucking pushing. No one is angry. No one is scared. It's fearless. It's polite. It's a little shy. It's a mood that suits me. Because I'm a fairly quiet guy. And I belong here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

just saw that this was here Andrew, months later. It's really great writing. not what I expect to see or hear about Japan