No grumpy faces to be found, only joy in Japan
Harmonious living, fast trains and top technology
ow would you like to live in a country where the unemployment rate is 2.4% of 127 million people, there is no crime, everything is spotlessly clean, toilets are the topic of conversation with visitors, trains travel at 380km/h and a bunch of grapes costs the equivalent of R175?
These are just some of the things Gavin and Karen Coetzer noticed when they recently visited their daughter, Teagan, and son-in-law, professional rugby player Lionel Cronje, in Japan.
The couple flew from Johannesburg to Nagoya, the nearest major centre to Nisshin City, where the Cronjes live in a double-storey house right on the street, without even a fence.
Karen says the homes are very practical with beautiful wooden floors and great technical gadgets – making everything very practical,
Hespecially in the kitchen and bathroom. Everyone leaves their shoes outside which obviates cleaning and scratching of floors and Lionel’s rugby boots (really expensive ones) stay outside, as does Teagan’s bicycle, their umbrellas and so on – but no one would think of taking them.
In the kitchen there are three containers – for plastics, recyclables and burnables – and you separate your litter into them. Trucks fetch them weekly and have music playing (like the old ice-cream carts) to alert you to the fact that they’re on their way. As a result, you see no litter anywhere!
If necessary, you can take your own refuse to the ecodome, which is like a giant warehouse, beautifully run and clean. There are no rubbish bins in streets – people take their litter home and dispose of it there.
If you’re working in the kitchen you can press a button and your bath water will run, with an intercom telling you when it’s ready. Even though there is an abundance of water, if the bath has cooled by the time you get there, you just press a button and the water will reheat.
Karen said they were amazed by the toilets. The seats are heated, powder and warm air are available at the push of a button and they flush themselves . . . and public toilets are exactly the same and always spotless.
She said the people had adopted the concept of “harmonious living” – everyone is respectful of others, considerate, disciplined and polite. Everything works as it should, the streets and stations are incredibly busy but there is no hooting, aggression or swearing.
“Lionel challenged us to find a grumpy person and in four weeks we honestly did not see one. It is really first world – on escalators you stay on the left so that anyone in a hurry can get past on the right. – it’s like Johannesburg on steroids,” she said.
The majority of people use trains (which includes the many bullet trains at 380km/h), subways and skytrains, all of which run exactly on time. “They are so punctual that if a train is one minute off schedule, it is reported in news headlines and passengers are issued with letters of apology and explanation in case it makes them late for work.”
Karen said there was construction in progress near the Cronjes’ home (“not that we noticed”) and every week, for the duration of the work, they receive a letter and a gift to apologise for the inconvenience.
“Even with a population of 127 million people, there is very little unemployment and everyone, regardless of what they do, does it with pride. Even car guards wear smart uniforms and take pride in their jobs and help motorists,” Karen said.
Incidentally, you angle park in reverse towards the gutter so that you can come out forward.
Lionel plays professional rugby for a top league club, Toyota Verblitz, after being recruited by coach Jake White. Many people are fanatical about rugby so they recognise Teagan and often give Lionel gifts. Spectators are very respectful of both sides and when there’s a kick for posts, there is absolute silence. Both sides are applauded and at the end the players line up and bow to the The Notice Board is intended to help people advertise events and avoid clashes.
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Monday – Thursday November 19 –
29: Stepping Stone final summative assessment.
Friday November 23: Black Friday, spectators. Incidentally, Lionel played against the team with All Black Dan Carter as flyhalf, so they got to see him play too.
Teagan teaches mostly English at an international school to Japanese children and other second-language pupils.The Japanese generally regard education as important and it is not unusual to see little ones going home from school at
Are there any drawbacks?
“Well, communication is a huge challenge. The people bend over backwards to help, but packaging is so different you are never sure what you are buying. The fish is wonderful, but most foods are expensive – a smallish melon was
“The whole trip was special and such a privilege and we could experience it to the full thanks to Lionel and Teagan. The country is quite contradictory because they still embrace their ancient culture and traditions, yet it is so economically and technologically advanced. There are hundreds of temples and shrines, yet even the fields and rice paddies are well ordered and structured.
“It was unforgettable.” with discounted prices at stores throughout SA
Sunday November 25: Daily Dispatch/SPAR Summer Fun Run and walk, Orient Pool, 9am.
Monday November 26: Matric exams end; QCOBA tie and badge ceremony, Queen’s Hall, midday; Balmoral exams start.
Thursday November 29: Stepping Stone grade 7 farewell assembly; auction of redundant municipal assets, municipal stores, New Street, 9am; Public participation meeting on air quality management plan, Public Works Hall, Komani Hospital office block, 8.30am.
Friday November 30: assembly, 11.15am.
Saturday December 1: Balmoral final Balmoral Christmas market. Wednesday December 12: close.
Sunday December 16: Reconciliation.
Tuesday December 25: Day.
Wednesday December 26: Goodwill.
Thursday January 1: Schools Day of Christmas Day of New Year’s Day.
JOHANNESBURG ON STEROIDS: Gavin and Karen Coetzer and Teagan and Lionel Cronje at the Universal Studios in Osaka – something like Disney World – which they toured, enjoying all the rides