What comes to your mind when thinking about Japan today? Probably Nintendo, teens playing video games, sushi, flashing street commercials and modern cities. Maybe you even remembered the recent tsunami. I honestly did not know much more about Japan either. But then suddenly the opportunity came up to visit and it took me five seconds – maybe less to decide to go.
I was too busy the weeks ahead of my trip to actually do some research about Japan. All I managed was to get myself the latest ‘Lonely Planet’, but only really started reading it on the way to Japan… So my surprise when arriving was huge to find a rather old, ugly and a little bit run down Tokyo airport. I had expected fancy architecture, TV screens everywhere and I don’t know what…
Yes, basically I did not know at all what to expect. But not this, especially not my luggage being lost. It was through this mishap though that I found what I had been expecting without really knowing it: The predominant politeness of people. I was met at the gate right after leaving the airplane and informed that my bag had not made it to Tokyo and whom to contact where. Directly after passing through immigration I was greeted again by an airline representative who helped me with all the formalities to have my luggage send to my hotel. She actually helped me pick up my rental cellphone as well as buying the correct train ticket. I was amazed. Even more when she called my hotel three times the same night to tell me where my luggage was and how to get it back. It goes without saying that my bag arrived the next morning and I was nevertheless fully reimbursed for the clothes and toiletries I had bought. This little example is just perfect to describe my experience of Japan. Everyone was friendly, helpful and very interested in me and my reasons to visit Japan. I especially like to remember the receptionist who upgraded me to a better room, just because it had a longer bed so my feet would not hang out.
But what are words when there are pictures. See for yourself: