Marion Schneider

Japan

What an impressive experience – to enter, travel around in and leave Japan. Never before have I seen such a clean and well-organised country. I am very impressed by the standard of living, by the affluence of this country; by the self-confidence of its people on the one hand, and by their friendliness and helpfulness on the other hand. In fact, however, I was only in Tokyo and cannot talk about all of Japan.

In Japan, you can see the strong impact of culture, on people. Not only on TV, but also in reality, you see groups of people who all look very serious, and observing them from my cultural point of view, I can’t tell whether they are just serious, or angry, or unconvinced, sceptical – until, from one second to the next, they burst out laughing, or do react in some way to words which I do not understand. This seriousness is impressive. I know it from groups of Germans as well – they are similar, but in Japan it is even more obvious.

I am impressed by the beautiful skin of many Japanese women. Their faces look like paintings, and it fascinates me to look at their postures, gestures, and body talk. It is also thrilling to look at the different ways Japanese people walk. The range of variations is wider than in any other country I know. Feet inwards, feet straight, feet outwards, long steps, short steps, bending the feet or not, etc.

Viewing the landscape from my plane before landing in Tokyo, it reminded me of Switzerland: the landscape was looked as if it were designed – everything seemed perfect. This impression was maintained throughout my trip. Everything in Tokyo was so well organized. There is no shortage of staff – wherever assistance was needed, I found friendly staff members who were there to help. And the Japanese tradition does not want or expect tips for this! This is also the case in restaurants and taxis: everything is included. This is a relief for a consumer who does not even know the exchange rate, let alone what to give as a tip. There are waiters who bring back change, and I even met a beggar who gave back a part of my donation which, by mistake, was in a foreign currency. He went out of his way to find me and give me back what was wrongly given to him. These were powerful impressions.