When I was growing up, I was always told that we have a lot to learn from Japan. I grew up during the rise of the Japanese car industry, I was taught “Japanese” business principles, and I watched movies like Gung Ho that shows discipline, perseverance, and efficiency.
On my first trip to Japan, though, I wanted to explore the world of wonder and high technology that the media has always portrayed. What I found was a place that was not “high tech” as many westerners think but rather a “low tech” cornucopia of conveniences that would make many westerners jealous.
The first thing I noticed was the lack of “open” Wi-Fi before going to Japan. My research found that in many places, free Wi-Fi has to be registered for before entering Japan; not everywhere. Despite the occasional airport or restaurant or tourist spot that offers free Wi-Fi, I find this to be true. Luckily, my Airbnb gave me a free mobile hotspot, and my $13 SIM for my unlocked Blu Android phone was full of gaps.
Even though I’m visiting Hiroshima, not Tokyo, I still expect to pay by credit card everywhere. This is impossible, because taxis, public transport, and many restaurants and small shops do not accept credit cards at all, so I find myself visiting the ATM more than once.
Despite those small technical facts, the conveniences that I found did not disappoint: from the doors that open the elegant taxi to the parking technology, disabled and safety technology, maintenance and cleaning, and technology advanced toilet — I was surprised. I’m not only impressed by these little conveniences, but I’m impressed by them. all in order (not what I’m used to in NYC).
We may not need restroom noise makers, and dirty NYC subway tracks have proven us do need public garbage cans, but a very simple and creative “technique” that we can certainly continue to learn from the Japanese culture.
Listing photo by Jennifer Hahn