Hello Tokyo…

21/09/2011

Imperial Palace Garden, Tokyo
Seldom does one get the chance to use that lovely word ENTHRALLING. But Japan really, really is.

Tokyo is a little bit wet at the moment. This morning, relatively light showers permitted an excursion to the Imperial Palace Garden with its miniature trees and a brief sojourn into Ginza, the main shopping district. However, by mid this afternoon a typhoon blew in and began disgorging itself over the city. Horizontal sheets of rain have been battering against my window for the remainder of the day.

Rarely for Japan, the public transport network has been affected and commuters stranded trying to get home against the deluge have rendered the traffic impassable and taxis impossible to get. Plans to dine have been postponed, and for one evening at least Japan’s machine-like efficiency has thrown its hands up against the forces of mother nature.

But in true Japanese style, thoughtfulness in small but meaningful gestures abound in such inhospitable climactic circumstances. Upon entering the Hermes store in Ginza, dripping umbrellas were wrapped and small fluffy white towels handed out with warm greeting and the customary bowing. At our hotel, the queue for taxis was taken care of as banqueting chairs were brought out into the lobby to accommodate the weary legs of commuters keen to get their journeys underway. The comfort and wellbeing of others is taken very seriously here.

Tokyo seems a very busy, complicated and inhuman city at first glance. But even 24 hours here reveals a deeply held, collective  commitment to ensuring that kindness and manners prevail. In the space of a single day one sees, hears or experiences more small polite gestures and thoughtful, kind service than in a year back in London.

When did we all become so lazy, so unconcerned for one another and so rude? Why do we tolerate it from one another?

More from Tokyo when the rain stops!

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