From now on, I’m going to start dating my blog posts. Wifi is very limited here in Japan so my posts might actually have been written a couple days earlier!
It was time to leave Hawaii and board the 9.5 hour flight to Osaka I’d been dreading, viewing it as a necessary evil. But wow, there was no reason to dread it! Japan Airline is so nice it’s insane. The Japanese people on the flight acted as if everything was the norm, but us Americans were freaking out. We probably looked like little kids in a candy story. The flight had personal TVs for every passenger, including free movies, music, and games. There was a bird’s eye view camera, and we were able to track our flight and check local times. Within the first hour, they had brought us warm hand towels, a snack, free drinks of any kind (all the Americans loved this part), and a free meal. And not just crappy vacuum sealed food, but a full Japanese meal with appetizers, salad, hot entrée, and ice cream. And then 5 hours later they brought another full meal! We were blown away by the friendliness and willingness to serve shown by the staff. It was probably hilarious to watch our reactions to the smallest things. It was such a stark comparison to our American flight to Hawaii the day before, with limited and unfriendly service. It’s only my first glance at the difference in cultures between Japan and America and I’m already astounded. The way people treat others is so different!
The respect of the Japanese people can be traced back to Confucianism, which was introduced to Japan hundreds of years ago. The principles and beliefs of Confucianism can still be seen in their cultures today. In Confucianism, there’s a strict belief in respect for superiors, and this transcends multiple relationships – teacher/student, boss/subordinate, parent/child, elder/youngin’, elder sibling/younger sibling, and more. Confucianism is rooted in harmony – achieving it and maintaining it. The Confucian principles lead to a very respectful society; people Dd slow to engage in conflict and to cause dissent. All I’ve experienced is a plane ride and I can already see how different Japanese culture is from America’s. You could see the different mentalities when we were boarding the plane; the second they announced on the PA that we could begin boarding, our whole group rushed to the gate to beat the crow and get on the plane, but the Japanese people on the flight remained in their seats, slowly gathering their things. In Japanese society, individuals often sacrifice personal preferences for the success/happiness of the group. As an American, I’m used to an “every man for himself” mentality, and I think it’ll be hard to shake in Japan. Us Americans, we are so quick to do whatever it takes to get what we want! We think we are entitled to the best of everything. We don’t even realize it, but our culture is rooted in selfishness. It is so cool that for 5 weeks I’m going to slowly be ridding myself of that mentality (hopefully). Learning is going to transcend numbers, economies, businesses, etc. We’re going to learn a whole new way of thinking. And man, that is so awesome!!!