A few things I've noticed, some new some same as last time I was here, some different....
1. Nobody jogs. I was going to bring a running suit-- the flat roads of Nagoya are perfect for running and I need to build up the muscle I've lost from surgery recovery. But my suitcase was literally so full I couldn't fit them. It's probably a good thing-- NOBODY jogs here. I've yet to see a single runner or a person in workout clothes.
Despite this-- NOBODY is fat.
How politically incorrect is that? I really don't care, it's a fact. I have not seen a single obese person. I've seen people my size who would likely be considered overweight so there's hope for me buying clothes here if I need them, but there is not a SINGLE person over 180lbs-- NOT one. And I've yet to see a woman over 140lbs-- and even that is extremely rare.
This is a fit country.
2. There is less smoking than before. When I was here a few years ago I was struck by the number of people who smoke and that they still allowed smoking in restaurants. We'll see as I venture into downtown today, but so far it's considerably less. This excepts MISTER DONUT which I now refer to as SMOKEY DONUTS which is just ridiculous-- nothing says pass on a donut than a cloud of second hand smoke hovering over it.
3. There are no homeless. There are no street people. This is a country that values pride in work, that still uses shame if you don't accept personal responsibility. This is a country where if YOUR child is misbehaving (and I've yet to see that either) a stranger will tell them to stop and the parents are apologetic to the stranger that they had to speak to that child.
4. There is pride in appearance. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY looks like they just rolled out of bed and wandered into public. Counter that with a recent visit I had to my local Price Rite back in the Woo where I guy actually looked half dressed with bed head and his shirt unbutttoned down to his navel just stumbling around doing his shopping.
Seriously, in that regard America sucks. I respect our ideal of personal freedom, but we take it too far. Stop wearing pajamas in public, stop dressing solely for comfort and consider how you present yourself. Stop looking for the government to provide a living for you-- get a freakin' job and take some pride in earning your own way.
5. They take pride in their work. I'm not kidding here-- this is a really amazing thing. Cashiers do NOT gossip with other cashiers or bag boys-- EVERYONE is just working while they are being PAID to work. And they are proud to do their job perfectly and professionally.
Imagine a McDonald's clerk that behaves like you see in the commercial.
Imagine store clerks that perk up when you walk into their business (even if they are just part time workers), who acknowledge you instantly and welcome you.
Imagine garbage men working at top speed from their trucks.
Imagine policemen and city workers NOT standing around doing road work, but actually DOING the road work.
Man, we can learn a LOT from the Japanese. I wish we had learned some of their cultural standards at the end of the War. Personal responsibility goes a long way towards making life better for all of us.