From good manners to respect for heritage… these are 7 things that Japanese can teach Indians

Ananya Shroff
5 Min Read

Writer: Shobhaa De

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Japan slowly makes its way into your heart and settles in, like a short Japanese poem (haiku) written about an old love. This country is often thought of as quiet and reserved, but the real Japan is much more special than that. It is a personal experience. After two weeks of traveling around this fascinating country of about 122 million people, you are left with a sense of wonder and admiration.

Japan's rich history and deep respect for heritage is one of the biggest things that connects our two countries. Despite the language barrier, visitors to Japan often feel at home. English is rarely spoken or understood here, making it difficult to communicate. Most of the writing in public places is also in Japanese. Despite this major drawback, the warmth of the people and smartphone translation apps make walking around and interacting with people not only easy, but a great experience. And that's the first thing to learn…

1. Respect for everyone
In India we often talk loudly, don't we? Not so in Japan. Children there don't shout for attention and even adults speak softly. They treat everyone with respect, no matter their age or station in society. They often bow in accordance with age, but their respect is genuine, especially towards the elderly or the helpless.

2. Discipline
This is a quality that has helped the Japanese to overcome many troubles. No one breaks the line. No one tries to push their way into the elevator, train or bus. The calm and orderly manner in which people behave in times of crisis is proof that they take pride in following public rules and give them great importance. No one litters there. Even the biggest fish markets are spotlessly clean.

3. Respect the work
You are right, in India we often brag about our work and try to belittle others. In Japan it is just the opposite. There everyone, whether doing a small job or holding a big position, looks at their work with respect. Tipping is not practiced there. They believe that they are already getting a salary for their work, so there is no need to take money for additional services. Taking tips in Japan is considered an insult to one's profession.

4. Politeness and decency
In India people often boast and we don't pay attention to it. In Japan such behaviour is considered rude. Japanese people get embarrassed seeing ostentatious tourists. Politeness and decency are given great importance there. People there are ready to help you by leaving their busy work to show you the right way. In India, especially in big cities, the first response is often 'Let's go'.

5. Appreciate the beauty of nature
The Japanese love the beauty of nature. For them, cherry blossoms are a perfect symbol of this fleeting beauty. For just seven days, when these cherry blossoms bloom in full splendor, all of Japan stops to pay homage to these delicate flowers, enjoying them before they fall to the ground. Families have picnics to see these beautiful flowers, appreciating the beauty of this moment before they disappear. How shameful it is that we do not respect nature's gifts in the same way and mercilessly destroy forests, mangrove forests, gardens, which should be admired, not abused.

6. Teamwork
Visit any big store to understand Japanese team spirit. The first challenge is the language barrier. No problem. The shopkeeper will rush off and return with three colleagues eager to help you. If despite their efforts you still don't find what you are looking for, a senior manager will be called in. The whole team will be sincerely involved in the search. Each time, the customer will be reassured through smiles and deep bows that a solution is available. Be patient! Compare this to the indifferent, rude salespeople in Indian stores who hate their jobs.

7. National pride
National pride is an important identity for every Japanese person. It is a great shame for them to let the nation down with even their smallest mistake. There is no room for self-praise. This is what we need to learn the most. When the heart is in the right place, the mind listens. And a nation remains happy.

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