Compelling Reasons to Live in Japan

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Right outside one of Tokyo’s busiest train stations (and therefore one of the busiest in the world) a woman and her kids park their bicycles and walk off for an hour, leaving all their shopping bags etc. sitting in the baskets.

Yes. An hour.

And this is just one example of many.

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Thousands of people walk past, but of course nobody even thinks of taking anything. Not the shopping, nor the bicycles.

Is there any other country in the world where this would happen?

It’s difficult to describe how liberating it feels to live here, where the small but significant concerns one has elsewhere simply do not exist.

One can leave a bicycle unlocked outside a shop without having to worry about whether it may be stolen. Or, as shown here, one can leave a heavy bag on the street and walk away, knowing it will be there on one’s return.

Similarly, on trains people can safely stand with a handbag hanging open on their shoulder, or fall asleep leaving their bags unwatched on the luggage rack. No problem.

People will enter a cafe, place their mobile phone on a table and walk away, knowing the phone serves to reserve their spot. Sometimes they leave their computer or bag on a chair instead.

Perhaps even more significantly, men and women alike can walk at night alone anywhere, completely unconcerned about personal safety.

Such things, although not necessarily major causes of stress elsewhere I’ve lived, are nevertheless things one has to take into account and take precautions against.

The cumulative effect is that when living in many cities and countries there’s a constant underlying level of fear in one’s everyday life, usually subconscious but which regularly surfaces whenever, for example, one is walking along a darkened street at night. And the mere act of leaving anything in a public place where it might be out of one’s sight for more than a few seconds is always cause for concern.

Living with such situations every day obviously has an adverse affect on one’s overall sense of security and freedom.

But in Tokyo it simply doesn’t exist.

Regardless of anything else, that’s one compelling argument for living in Japan, and one which weighs significantly whenever the thought even vaguely crosses my mind to live elsewhere.

Just imagine if only the rest of the world were so civilized…

~ by JapanGasm on 4 July, 2013.

2 Responses to “Compelling Reasons to Live in Japan”

  1. Then what is the penalty for theft? Just curious.

    • Possibly the biggest deterrent for theft is shame – to be convicted would bring incredible social shame (for self, family, employer, etc.). The entire social system in Japan is focussed on obligations as a member of a group, not as an individual. This is instilled from birth, so for most Japanese the thought never even enters their mind to steal.

      This is why if you drop your wallet or purse in Japan you are almost guaranteed to get it back with everything still inside.

      First offenders may be treated with a little lenience, if Japanese. For a foreigner, theft would result in arrest and most likely imprisonment or deportation.

      Proportionally, far more crime is perpetrated by foreigners in Japan than by Japanese, hence their bad reputation and the perception among Japanese that foreign countries are dangerous.

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