Mindfulness of Others: A Japanese Cultural Trait We Need to Learn From

Every country has something they are known for. Australia has their happy go lucky mates and their quirky Aussie Slang. The Philippines has their wonderful beaches and social media prowess. This article will be endless if we write everyone’s interesting and wonderful talents.


But there is one country’s trait that needs to be highlighted for everyone to learn from. And that is Japan’s Mindfulness of Others.


A Snapshot of Japan


Japan is not new to most people. They contributed quality automotive and electronics, their proverbial ramen, and out-of-this-world anime! It is certainly a bucket list destination for every generation.


But you will find it interesting when you actually immerse yourself in their day to day lives. You will never see such polite, rule-abiding, and discipline people in the world.


When you arrive at the city, you will see what I mean.


Escalator  and Sidewalk Culture

Escalator and Sidewalk Culture

When you use the escalator, everyone lines up at the left to make way for rushing people to the right side.


Walking at the sidewalks, people patiently wait for the green light before they cross. Take note, even if no one is watching, even if there are no cars, in a 5-meter pedestrian!  Try that in the Philippines.


Public Transportation and Clean Establishments

Public Transportation and Clean Establishments

When you ride the train, it’s so quiet. You can even sleep.


When you go to the gym, those who workout are so silent.. You might wonder if you’re in a gym or a serene concrete forest.


And you don’t have to worry about dirty gym equipment; it is NORMAL for the USERS to clean the equipment with disinfecting wipes after every use. Again, THAT’S AFTER EVERY USE!


Everything is so clean. The automatic toilets are even a wonder. Looking back, you are baffled why it’s even cleaner outside than your own room at home.


Customer Service Befitting Royalty

Customer Service Befitting Royalty

Image Credit: Japan Times


And as to customer service, you will feel so elated. I once ordered online to have the stuff delivered in our house in Japan.


When the delivery lady arrived, she was so happy delivering the items. I can’t understand her, but she speaks as if it was a real blessing that she delivered the item to us (note the item is in pristine condition, so take your malicious thoughts out.)


In shops, they treat you like royals. They bow down and greet you with their ever-joyful “irasshaimase”. I mean you know they will earn from you. But it makes you feel happy to pay them nonetheless.


It Boils Down to Being Mindful of Others


This event is normal in Japan. Like the Japanese Wabi-Sabi, it’s deeply ingrained in their culture. And it’s all because of their mindfulness of others.


They don’t want to inconvenience other people. It’s like a machine where different people represent different cogs and bolts. For it to be an amazing apparatus, everything should function together smoothly.


And that is what unconsciously drives this tendency. They see their worth not as an individual but their contributions to the community. They have the shared responsibility in their surroundings.


For example, when a group member accidentally messes up a room. The whole group cleans up, not just the one responsible. The other members don’t deserve it. But everyone has the responsibility for it. This contributes a conscious effort for every individual to do well because the group reaps the benefits and suffers the consequences as well. (At the very least, by principle)


Training Starts as Children

Training Starts as Children

Their training starts in their early years. Unlike traditional schooling in other countries, the schools in Japan have a somewhat peculiar curriculum.


The children are encouraged to commute to school alongside an older child together to foster independence and friendships along the way. And in school, they are given tasks normal schools wouldn’t give to young ones.


Students are in rotation to serve food during eating breaks. And after everyone is served, that’s the only time they all start eating. Service and camaraderie.


Classrooms are cleaned by the students daily. Yes, no janitors clean up for them. And classes are usually tasked to cultivate a garden to harvest afterward. And even take care of a class pet.


The educational centers want each upcoming Japanese citizen to value hard work, nature, and life. They focus on teaching proper values and morals. And they can only do that by working together as one cohesive group.


Everyone contributes to the task giving them a sense of public duty. Hence, this almost perfect nation. A nation which almost every country aspire to be as good.


Can We Do This as a Nation?


It may be hard to force this culture to our own respective countries. For this change to last for multiple generations, a lot of people must practice and want it.


Our generation might be too late to see a drastic change. But who can stop you from being the change you want to see. If we all start within ourselves and influence others to start as well, we can only imagine what can happen.


It may be too late for our generation, but let us spark the change for the future ones to embrace. If we start now, our children can inherit a baseline. Who knows, your efforts might be a precedent to the better society our children can have.


Cheers to a brighter and mindful future!

Leandro Eclipse

Leandro Eclipse is an entrepreneur who loves to travel. He believes in building multiple Location-Independent Sources of Income. Because if you are going to work anyway, might as well do it while exploring the world. Self-proclaimed foodie and tech geek. Follow him on IG @mikoeclipse.


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