30.08.2012 - 28.09.2012
“Silence is golden” is a term that tells it how it is in Japan. Being quiet is the goal of all people in Japan and it is actually really enjoyable. After living in Siem Reap this year where noise is a part of every day life, especially if you have a wedding or a funeral going on near by, and being in China where if you are standing right next to somebody you are still required to yell at them and the use of mobile phones in public is revered, coming to Japan is bliss. I will also admit that it has been somewhat difficult for me to lower the volume of my voice and laugh and that Merilyn and I combined makes it even more difficult. However, I think I have succeeded and I am also finding myself getting just a little cranky if somebody is talking a little loud (like 2 little old ladies on the bus the other day – who, in their defense, were probably a little deaf.) In the whole time I have been here I have never heard anyone raise their voice in anger to anyone – even mothers with little kids speak softly to them – and it works! The children here are so well behaved.
It is highly frowned upon to use your mobile phone on any public transport. If you are anywhere near the priority seats (seats for the elderly, women with children etc) then you actually must turn off your phone altogether. In other parts it must be on silent. On the rare occasion that someone does answer their phone they talk very very softly, with their hand coving their mouth to reduce the volume for those sitting near by. Or if they are on a long distance train they will get up from their seat and move to the link between the carriages and talk there. Mobile phone etiquette is highly regarded here in Japan. I would love to see some of it in Australia.