Another thing that’s nice about living in Japan is that all public spaces are so clean.
Sometimes you see a salary man jumping after a scrap of paper he has accidentally dropped that gets carried away by the wind. I have always considered myself a tidy person, and do not drop trash on purpose, but I have to admit that at home, I would not have gone to such lengths. In Japan I do, because everyone does.
The Tokyo Metro, which is the most used subway system in the world, moves 5,760,000 passengers per day. And despite this enormous passenger throughput, you never see any trash in a subway car, let alone scratched window panes. No need to check for chewing gum on the seats, no half-full beer cans rolling around on the floor. I have never noticed any signs of vandalism anywhere.
Of course there is a lot of cleaning personnel around. But at the same time, every single person makes sure not to leave any trash sitting around. If there’s no trash bin available, you just tuck the wrapping of your candy bar into your purse or pocket. I wish people in other countries would show the same respect for public spaces!
That is how the Greater Tokyo Area, with an estimated population of 35,676,000 can remain livable, and more than that, even pleasantly clean.
In Asakusa, we see the shop owners clean the sidewalk in front of their stores every morning. And the employees of the bank even trim the hedge and pull the weeds next to the sidewalk. This may seem excessive, but it exemplifies the responsibility of the single person for their surroundings. A contrast to the mind-set of people back home, who consider everything that happens outside of their own house someone else’s problem. I think, if we learned a lesson from the Japanese approach to public space, the world would become a little more pleasant for everyone, at a small expense for the single individual. Yes, I know I sound like I’m 80 years old. But you know what? It’s nice to live in a clean place.