When we arrived in Tokyo the first week of December, I was taken by surprise by many things. The ease at which we passed immigration. There were enough people staffed to handle the load of people just landed. We held US passports and that probably made it easier as there was a separate line for foreign passport holders. When we arrived at Detroit, there were about 4 officers handling about 200 US citizens coming back to the country! And one of them (from our line), walked past us and pointed out to a guy with a grey sweater that he won’t take anyone beyond him. The Japanese are probably the most polite people, at least in the airport and hotels and shopping malls we visited. They bow numerous times again and again. Rama and Vikas thought they all have a small middle just because they bow a lot! Anyway, when we arrived at Detroit, we had a immigration personnel directing people to lines in a rather loud and not-so-polite voice. Maybe, she needed to use the public address system. The security personnel were ‘giving’ orders where to stand in line. In contrast, in Tokyo, we were just motioned to stand in a line or extremely politely asked to do the same. These differences apart, what struck me when I was sitting in the Detroit terminal was the average size of the people around. The seats were big and most of them were filled up – in a way Ellen DeGeneres notioned during the Oscars. I rarely saw an exception. In contrast, in Japan, most of the people were lean and trim and moving around at a pace we don’t see in the US. If you happen to use the Tokyo Subway, you will notice how much one needs to walk to get from the JR lines (inter city) to the subway lines (intra-city). I figure we walked about 2 miles daily while using the subway.
Due to lack of space, the Japanese try to make most of the luxury they can afford in their small houses or hotel rooms. This was very evident at the Ginza Courtyard we stayed. The toilets were amazing. Yes, rarely do we need to appreciate toilets, but they fancy Japenese toilets I read about in the news articles are actually true. The one we used would wash you up – front or back! At another hotel, there were options to heat the seat before sitting or warm up the water before washing. This is like combining the best of the old world and the new world practice. In the less developed countries, there is or at least there was, no concept of toilet paper. A mug of water was mandatory when you go. In the new world, technology keeps the cleaner practice of using water still going.