Though today is technically Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., as I indicated on Tuesday, it is a non-issue in Japan. Therefore, to keep my brain off of the thoughts of all of my American friends and family members getting together to eat traditional foods, laugh at each others’ jokes, argue about each others’ politics and watch too much football, I am going to write a short list about the things that I love about Japan.
The things I love about Japan:
- The impeccable service – white glove service everywhere from a four-star hotel to a taxi cab to a garbage man.
- The scrumptious food – everything from noodle bowls to sushi to authentic French cuisine is made to impossibly high standards
- The cordial people – any time you ask a clerk in any store where something is located, he or she will not just tell you, but take you there. Japanese people are unfailingly polite.
- The cleanliness – you could eat off the street in most places. Enough said.
- The authentic food – you can get the best French food, the best Italian food, the best Chinese food – all the chefs study in the places whose food they cook. Anything worth doing is worth doing well.
- The impossible contradictions – a travel writer once called Japan a “2000-year-old woman in a miniskirt.” That’s the type of contradiction that allows a centuries-old shrine to remain intact next to a 30-story building.
- The crazy system of addresses and streets – okay, I don’t love it, but now that I understand it after 3 years, I can at least appreciate it. It really is wacky!
- The beautiful food – plates are never brought to a table without a stunning presentation. I constantly have an urge to photograph my food – even just some things in the grocery store are lovely!
- Japan post – it’s not expensive and if they say it’s going to get there, then it gets there!
- The gasoline filling stations – it’s right out of 1975 Americana, down to the uniformed men hurrying out to help you pull the car to the right spot before they fill your car for you.
So there’s my list of ten things I love about living in Japan. Writing such a list assuages some of the guilt I feel for not being with my family today and some of the longing I have to be there. It reminds me that I live in a beautiful country and have wonderful friends and relationships here, personal and professional. It reminds me that I am happy and thankful to be so.
Ok, so it’s a little bit about Thanksgiving, but only in the sense of giving thanks. What a country!