I Expected Bowing in Japan But I Didn’t Expect

all the friendly waving. Today in the elevator at a museum people actually waved good-bye when we got off. And said “Welcome to Japan!”

I expected politeness but I didn’t expect universal friendliness, people–official and not–offering help. A med student getting us on the right train. Waiters practicing their English. People offering a seat.

I expected to make cultural mistakes but I didn’t expect to be greeted with friendly joking and laughter when I fumbled something. It also seems that if I smile I am communicating well enough.

Things that are not polite: Drivers. Wind. Japanese card only ATMS.

Very polite things: special umbrella stands with take one for free or leave one for free. Plastic coverings for your very own wet umbrella when entering a mall.

Mysterious things: why are pansies and narcissus blooming in this freezing cold weather? Oranges even? Pepper plants? The ingredients of some sushi pieces on the conveyor belt–for example, a tiny hamburger with mayo on top of the rice!

Unmysterious things: fabric and craft stores which bear an uncanny resemblance to Joann’s or Michael’s in the US, if you ignore the kimono remnants.

Photo by Isabel Winson-Sagan

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About Miriam Sagan

I'm blogging about poetry, land art, haiku, women artists, road trips, and Baba Yaga at Miriam's Well (https://miriamswell.wordpress.com). The well is ALWAYS looking to publish poetry on our themes, sudden fiction, and guest bloggers and musers.

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