Wednesday, December 26, 2012

It could only happen in Japan

It could only happen in Japan 

Carole Goldsmith Copyright © 2012 - 2013

Absolute extremes abound in Japan wherever you look.

Dumplings for sale 

Long queues wait in line for the freshly made dumplings at an Osaka Department store. Only one very speedy sales assistant serves the masses while ten people are at the back preparing the dumplings. 

Two other sales assistants seem to be setting up boxes and the one speedy rather stressed sales assistant continues serving the queues. I wondered at the time why the sole sales assistant serving was not helped by the others.  She was working non-stop and quite flustered while the dumpling makers were preparing their dumplings in a relaxed manner.

The boutique cake shop queues

Customers line up for over an hour waiting for 5 PM to enter an exclusive Osaka cake shop that looks like a boutique jewellery shop inside. Some people drive up in their black limousine and they seem to have priority over those waiting in the queue.

The people in the queue tell me that they must wait until 5 PM. They continue to wait in the queue and do not complain that others are going in before them. 

 Buying a post card at the post office.

I had been trying to email someone and the email did not go through so I bought a plain post card at the post office, I asked the postal staff where I should write the address of the person I was writing to. She showed where the address should go, just under the postcode boxes and where the postcode numbers need to go. 

So I proceeded to write the address and my message underneath the address. Then I asked her if that was OK and both the post master and post mistress spent a lot of time inspecting my postcard.  Then she kept checking books and typing numbers in the computer. 

My 60-yen post card had caused quite a stir, because I really had not written on the post card how I was supposed to do with the address on one side and the text on the other side. I also wondered why she did not tell me that in the first place. 

Silly me, for years I have been writing the address and the  message on the one side of the post card, because of course it had a picture on the other side. No you definately do not do the wrong thing in Japanese post offices. So be warned, don't throw the postal staff into a nervous state because a silly Gauguin has written the post card the wrong way. 

So this is how it should be done -  if you use a Japan Post -post card to post a message, write the address on one side and the message on the back side and if you have a senders address put that somewhere on the side that you are writing your message. 

Needless to say, I rewrote the post card the correct way, as they gave me a new one to use - and I bet the postal staff were happy to see me leaving.  

Using the abacus or counting frame to check the computer 

I was in a country post office in Japan buying some stamps. The postal staff calculated the total cost on her computerised calculator. Then would you believe it, she checked the amount on her abacus or counting frame. Amazing eh! In this age of high tech, in a high tech country like Japan, an abacus is still used. 

 Bike Riders nearly knock you over on the pavement 

With no helmets on, as helmets must not be required by law in Japan (like they are in Australia), bike riders speed along the foot path like they have the right of way, rather than the pedestrians.

Passengers stand on the back of the bike, without a care in the world, this looks very dangerous to me.They ring their bell and expect us passengers to get out of the way. 

Don't pedestrians we have the right of way on the footpath. With rules everywhere in Japan there does not seem to be any rules for bike riders. Although I did see a sign in Fukuoka - no cycling on the footpath. 

Garbage not collected automatically

Here I was thinking that Japan was just so advanced in everything but maybe not so advanced in garbage (trash) collection. 

Near my hotel located in the Tennoji region in Osaka, the garbage truck arrived to collect the trash and a man ran along beside the truck and collected the plastic bags of rubbish and piled them into the garbage bin by hand. 

In my city in Glen Eira in Melbourne Australia, the garbage trucks arrive, our garbage is in green tall bin. The garbage trucks mechanically pick up the bins and pile the rubbish into the truck's receptacle. Being all done mechanically by the truck there are no occupational health and safety issues. Handling the garbage manually raises a whole lot of health and safety hazards. Japan is very advanced in workplace health and safety, but certainly not in the garbage collection I saw at Tennoji, Osaka. 

Ten men in line sweeping the streets in Osaka

Again I was in Tennoji and saw a procession of men, all in uniform armed with brooms and shovel, sweeping  the streets. Surely if the many up the front swept and collected the dirt, there would not be any dirt left of the other nine men. I wondered at the time and am still wondering - Why did they need ten men in procession to clean the street? 

The extremes in Japan continue to surprise me.

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