Somewhere in the Smith’s School of English curriculum is the statement “Traveling in America isn’t as safe as traveling in Japan” (I think it’s part of comparisons 2). Personally, I always agree with this statement. Though I’m not from America, I’ve done some travelling there, and in other parts of the world, and really I’ve never felt as safe as in Japan. The reason for this, I suppose, is that I actually trust each and every one of the thousands of people I see every day.
When I was growing up in Sweden all of the people I knew would leave their front door unlocked. This is for practical purposes of children running in and out of the house, especially during the summer. My family never trusted people this much, however. In Australia I don’t know anyone who has ever kept their front door unlocked, nor do people do this in Sweden much anymore. In Japan I wouldn’t think twice about leaving my apartment unlocked as I went go to the shops. This is fortunate actually, because in the short time I’ve lived in Osaka it feels like all the people I’ve ever met have descended down upon my house, and their daily coming and going through my working week has been made much easier by a front door that requires no sentry!
The first time I ever went anywhere I was a little lost caught in a crowd somewhere, with someone running behind me screaming. I didn’t pay attention to her, because my senses were completely occupied with trying to navigate. Also, I might add that I have a very fast walking pace, so most people don’t keep up with me for long. Finally this tug came at my shoulder, and it was this tiny woman who had been running after me for ages, screaming at me for stop, trying to give me back my train ticket that I had dropped. I was so relieved, because I did not yet know about the other amazingly trusting part of Japanese railway culture.
This happened just the other day, when I was on my way home from work after a late shift, and I just couldn’t find the ticket I’d bought anywhere. I concluded I must’ve dropped it somewhere, and dreaded going up to the ticket gates trying to plead my case. I only had 500 yen to my name for the rest of the week, so felt quite upset about losing the 160 ticket in the first place. I was worried that I would have to pay the highest fare available, which I guessed would be upward 900 yen or so. Of course not! The station attendees would simply take my word for where I came from, I’d pay my 160 yen to many thanks and be on my way! I was so impressed with how honesty and trust makes a good system all the way home, I didn’t even mind eating homemade onigiri for the rest of the week (besides, as SJ pointed out in a post below, onigiri is food fit for the gods).