These are a few of my favourite things
I caught one of the new Sydney buses home today — so fresh it still had that distinctive smell and not a trace of graffiti, slashed upholstery or the usual defaced windows, impossible to see out of. I don’t expect this to last.
I thought of my recent trip to Japan where I didn’t see any graffiti in Tokyo or Kyoto, and continued to ponder the crucial differences in our cultures.
Given the need to get along in such a densely populated country, the Japanese seem to have mastered the art of consideration for others.
There are so many civilised and thoughtful features of their society that I would love to see adopted in Australia.
First up would be banning of mobile phone conversations on public transport. What bliss it was in Japan not to be assaulted with deeply personal chats or posturing work calls. See what you think about other attributes on my list. I would include warm greetings and thanks; wabi-sabi, the aesthetic that values imperfection and transience (a great comfort when housework gets too much); comfort- able waiting areas in department stores, which are a bonus for hovering gentlemen who don’t know what to do with themselves; and cleaning up your own trays and rubbish in cafes and on public transport. Then there’s iced water served the moment you sit down in cafes and restaurants, and bills as soon as you have ordered, so you don’t have to catch a waiter’s attention at the end.
Still with me? Let’s try some more, such as kids in immaculate school uniforms (yes, I’ve heard the fashionable arguments that uniforms are irrelevant) and a cycling culture without machismo (you don’t need to wear Lycra, go fast or have a fancy bike, just use it to go from A to B — who knew?).
The bullet trains always arrive and depart on time, carriages lining up at the designated area on the platform, so there’s no darting along to look for the right door. There’s excellent marshalling at events and exhibitions, so you can get in and out without frustration, and gorgeous memorabilia, even illustrated tickets, at cultural institutions.
And, finally, unlike in Australia, keeping those skimpy pole-dancing fashions for after five, at least.
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