Tuesday, October 1, 2013


There is such a lovely feeling of calm here.  I wonder sometimes if it is just the result of me floating in my parallel world, a foreigner among Japanese people.  I know, see, and hear nothing.

Or maybe it's the way that everything mechanical has a cheerful melody–the garbage truck, the microwave oven.  Maybe it's because people rarely honk their horns and children never have tantrums.

But I've also noticed that there is a lot less multi-tasking in Japan.  Occasionally I see the people in the office eating their lunch in front of their computers, but in general it seems that everyone leaves time for tasks to be done, or they don't get done.  The mad scramble of layering multiple things to do on top of one another seems to be far less prevalent here than in the States where we seem to have some expectation that time can be beat, that it can be created if we just do more things at once.  But here, time is respected in a different sort of way.   In place of multi-tasking there is mono-tasking, and even a great deal of non-tasking, just waiting for a task to arise.  People ready to have their service needed, to guide a pedestrian or a biker, to clean the dust from the elevator door, to move a chair for the conductor, to bow in greeting upon entry at the bank.

It's nice to live in this change of pacing.  I'm not sure from where it comes, whether it is something personal or collective, intended or resulting from the accumulation of years of rituals and customs.  What are the things that define our speed of living, our state of mind as we do the many things that need to be done?  Perhaps in my back and forth between Japan and the west, it will start to become more clear to me.  For now, just to enjoy it.

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