Hi There and thanks for taking the time to read this small article about why I love Japan. I have been living here a long time now and never become tired of seeing this amazing race of people in action. Sure there is a negative side to the country that can be found if we look for it but who wants to learn from that. I much prefer learning from that which is good.
Last Friday I was walking along headed to teach in one of our Smith’s schools. In fact that school was Smith”s School of English Fukushima or as it is known in Japanese スミス英会話福島 after walking across the pedestrian crossing I stepped up on the curb and small thudding noise back on the street drew my attention. It was dusk and a little hard to see however I could just make out a small something being pushed around by passing cars. At first I couldn’t really tell what it was but then a letter flew out from this object and I realized it was a small fabric carry bag. I decided it need picking up.
I waited for the next red light and the traffic to stop and walked out to grab this bag. It was quite beaten up yet the contents seemed pretty much intact. I could see some money, keys, a bunch of mail and a lipstick. It became obvious this had been dropped either from a car or perhaps a bicycle rider. In my minds eye I saw a small child tossing mum’s bag out from the window of their family sedan or maybe a granny riding along with all of her shopping jammed tight into her her bicycle basket and the purse launching itself onto the road from a shopping bag. In either case they needed this back.
Off to the nearest Koban (police station) to hand it in. As soon as I entered the police station they politely asked me if I had time to fill out a report. I confirmed I did and the process began. The policeman donned a pair of white cotton gloves and began to empty the contents of the bag before my eyes whilst simultaenously completing a report on his computer. Once complete he read the report asking me to confirm each item. 11 letters, 7 keys, 1 x red lipstick, cash 20,000 yen exactly made up of 2 x 5,000 yen notes, 8 x 1,000 yen notes, 2 x 500 yen coins, 10 x 100 yen coins. He then asked if I wish to a) make a claim for a reward and if I wanted the owner if found to know who I was. I declined both requests and that was it.
The entire process took about 20 minutes and in that time three other people brought lost property into the station. One had found a wallet containing over 100.000 yen the other a set of credit cards. To the Japanese handing in over a thousand dollars cash they found in the street is quite normal. It’s the only thing to do.
If I was to sit down and document every event like this which I have witnessed in 23 years living in Japan it would take a long time to read. On the day I found the small handbag I gained yet again another confirmation of just one of the reasons that I love Japan. After filling in the police report I headed back to my classroom and happily taught Japanese students of English how better to communicate in English. I had only 3 lessons that day yet as I looked at each student I could not help but ask myself, “who is teaching who here?”. Yes, I am helping you with your English but your culture is helping me live a better life.