Happy Street Fish!

As mentioned in this previous post, respect for others’ property in Japan is a given; vandalism is extremely rare – in almost 6 years living in Tokyo I cannot recall seeing a single example – and alongside this is an overwhelming trust and sense of security. Hence people’s possessions are often left outside their homes or in the street with absolute certainty they will be left alone by passersby.

I described a few examples in this post, and last weekend I happened upon a typical situation.

On one of the main paths leading to the station entrance sits a fish tank, goldfish happily swimming in full view of pedestrians, cyclists and delivery people.

Without doubt such a tank left on a street in London would last no more than a day or two before

  • a) being smashed by a vandal “having a laugh”
  • b) transforming into a rubbish bin, filled with empty drink cans, sweet and crisp wrappers or cigarette butts
  • or c) attract local kids trying to catch or otherwise traumatise the fish

Sad but true.

Ahhh, it’s difficult to stay here any length of time without becoming seduced by the inherent respect within Japanese culture and fall into despair at one’s own.

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~ by JapanGasm on 2 June, 2010.

4 Responses to “Happy Street Fish!”

  1. I totally agree with you when it comes to falling in love with the respect the Japanese culture has for one another, and another’s property.
    When I had the chance to visit Tokyo I was constantly surprised by the number of push-bikes left un-chained everywhere.

    I felt myself relax, as living in the UK I am ever vigilant to pick-pockets and am careful when it comes to leaving property unattended. The number of times I have found someone has ‘relived’ themselves against the side of my car is disgusting.
    I found the cleanliness of Japan incredibly refreshing. I actually have OCD and it tends to manifest itself with contamination fears. In Japan, my OCD almost dissipated. It was so rejuvenating. My biggest fear being public toilets, but how pleasantly surprised I was so find them all virtually spotless!
    Sometimes I wonder if I actually have OCD at all, or that it is just a normal reaction of wanting high levels of cleanliness.

    • I completely understand what you’re saying, Louise. When I visited the UK after some time in Japan I found myself quite perturbed and occasionally disgusted at a lot of what I saw – the general disrespect for property, lack of cleanliness, absence of consideration, aggressive edge and so on.
      I think it’s a simple case of people becoming desensitized to the negatives and not noticing them. Until people see an alternative, it doesn’t occur to them to think.
      Either that or people have become resigned to the negatives. And resignation is a big killer of both hope and imagination.
      Like many things one sees in Japan, the thought occurs “Why don’t people do this in (name a country) ?”. One primary example of course being the essentially filthy habit people in the West have of wearing shoes inside their home.
      It’s up to us to raise awareness – spread the word!

  2. Nice post, i have been to japan once and was amazed by all these stories :). In my country the fish tank would have been stolen in a night and sold on chor bazaar (flea market)

    • Ahh, India – I love it – may be visiting for my 6th time this summer!

      In many ways it seems such a contrast to Japan, but in terms of people’s consideration and sense of community I notice many similarities.

      That and they both have incredible food.

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