After living in Japan for over two years and embracing the culture, I have totally enjoyed learning about their culture and have witnessed awesome everyday habits that I plan on taking with me when I leave.
The art of maximizing space
For the Japanese, living in a small home is not a big deal, and its normal for some to live in an apartment or ultra small home that is as small as 30 square meters, which is only big enough to park a car. For most Americans, I’m sure it would be hard to imagine living in such a cramp space, but the Japanese have mastered the art of utilizing every inch of a space in ways that will not make you feel not confined.
My biggest lesson is luxury in a home doesn’t have to equate to 3,000 square feet, and can be displayed in any size of dwelling. I no longer have the desire to build a large dream home, but would rather build something much smaller with all the bells and whistles to accommodate my basic needs. Besides why pay the extra money for footage just so your friends and family can come over and say Ohhhh and Ahhhh?
Unless you dine only at American fast food restaurants, it’s impossible not to eat healthy in Japan. Most dishes come with vegetables, and miso soup with yummy tofu, with the option of green or oolong tea to wash it down. The Japanese also do not eat large portions, so most Americans when they first arrive find themselves ordering two of each dish to satisfy their appetite. Green tea which is so good for your body and known to ward off cancer is everywhere, so most of us Americans overtime learn to love the acquired taste and reap the healthy benefits.
In fact a lot of my American friends don’t like to eat at Japanese restaurants for this reason, but it has changed the way I see food, and over time I physically can see and feel the difference in my health and body. For about a year now, eating fresh for me has become a way of life, and I am so glad that I can say it’s now apart of my lifestyle.
I find a common theme everywhere that I go in Japan and that’s simplicity. Unless you have spent sometime here it’s really hard to explain, but the Japanese have an art of making everything difficult seem as simple as possible. Every service and product is well thought out, and each detail added or taking away is to create simplicity and to cancel out all distractions or difficulty. Even when you view their architecture buildings, gardens, and modern decor there’s a sense of simplicity that you cannot ignore.
Starting this year I had this need of creating simplicity in my life and even tried to push it on my followers in a previous post called A Different Kind of Spring Cleaning. I don’t think I have truly mastered simplicity in my life, and I’m still not sure exactly what it’s going to take for me to feel complete simplicity, but I will say that since the beginning of this year I have been slowly tweaking my life in pursuit of simplicity, and so far I think its working….I’ll keep you posted.
Spirit of excellence in service and business
The Japanese’s sense of pride in whatever job or service that they offer is just amazing. The first time I walked into a McDonald’s in Japan, three Japanese girls bowed in sequence chanting “Irasshaimase!” which means welcome. I looked around to see if I picked the wrong entrance into the McDonald’s, for I was not used to such a humble greeting in a fast food restaurant. Also you will never be asked at a store in Japan if you would like a bag when you purchase an item. Packaging your purchase in Japan is taking so serious that it’s actually an art. It takes sometime to get use to patiently wait for a clerk to wrap a 3 dollar item in fine wrapping paper, then place it in a gorgeous gift bag with the store’s signature tape or logo to clasp it shut.
As a future business and entrepreneur woman, I want to display this type of spirit of excellence when I deal with my customers. Not just packaging (Lol!!), but in everything that I put out to my customers and followers on any given day.
Has there been other cultures other than your own that has influenced you to change?