A Quick Observation on Tokyo Life

A regular blog reader here, Mr. Mickey Tramarchi, made a very astute observation last week after I posted about the umbrella etiquette issues in Tokyo.  In the past, posts he has liked have included those about allowing my children more freedom here in Japan, and issues surrounding my bicycle among others. He comments often about my observations of life in Japan and this comment really hit close to home.  He writes that in a country where we can leave wallets out on park benches and bikes unlocked on the streets, and allow our elementary-aged children ride subways without fear, we lock up our umbrellas.

What an interesting country – he says!  I agree – what a country!


Umbrella Etiquitte

A museum guard with his umbrella bags at the ready

In Tokyo, as in most major cities, rainy weather becomes an issue because people are out in it all the time.  We don’t go from our house to our car to our office with a minimum of outside exposure like in many suburban areas.  So the Japanese have created an entire set of rules surrounding the proper use and care of umbrellas.  This was illustrated to me when I went last week with a friend to the National Art Center in Roppongi on a rainy day.  First of all, when approaching the museum, appropriately-garbedguards direct patrons where to go with their umbrellas.  If they happen to have a small umbrella, it’s no problem because the guards are carrying little plastic bags which they hand out or assist with using.  If the umbrella is a standard size, the guards direct

Give your umbrella a shake here – be sure to shake it side to side and not up and down, as directed.

patrons to the little umbrella room outside the doors to the museum.  Just outside of the little room is a little device in which you can insert the umbrella to shake it a little to dry it before tying it up to put away. It’s just a piece of cloth over two rods, but its function is clearly marked. The round room itself houses just umbrella stands.  Each umbrella can be locked into its own stand, and patrons carry the key inside with them instead of having to carry a whole umbrella.  It’s very civilized.  And, of

The umbrella room

course, it’s very clean and neat.  There is no way a single drip of water is going to get on any artwork in this museum.  This is Japanese foresight at its very best, in my opinion.  They like things to be neat and clean and orderly, and they go to great lengths to make it so.

Each umbrella locked into its individual spot. This in the city with one of the lowest crime rates in the world.

The Ultimate Convenience

The Japanese know how to do it right – if they need anything, it should be available in a vending machine 24/7.

This particular machine was in a parking lot by the exit.  Drivers expect to walk some distance from any parking lot to their ultimate destination.  But what if it’s raining?  Here’s the ultimate solution to the problem:

Just as a note – I have anecdotally noticed that when it rains, there are fewer cars on the road.  Japanese people tend to drive very slowly and  cautiously (there are reasons stereotypes exist, you know – they do sometime derive from an element of truth…) and so it’s inefficient to drive when it rains.  There is more likely to be traffic when it’s sunny and fine so people are happy to go out for a drive.  Otherwise, they stay underground.  This is just the opposite of the U.S. where people are less likely to walk if it rains, preferring the dry comfort of their cars.  Interesting mind-set, neh?

Japanese convenience – the ultimate in comfort.  And that is yet another reason why I love it here!