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How People Around Can Change You For The Better: Lessons From Japan

Posted: August 12, 2015

People around can change us for better or worse. A lady describes how Japan turned her to be a better human being. Here’s her experience.

It was a rainy evening and I was returning back after a short trip to Nara (Japan) with my family.My husband has been working here since last seven years and my family had come to visit us. My house is just a few steps away from our metro station. It had started drizzling. As we came out of the metro station’s elevator, we saw an old lady, who was trying to convey us something. Here most of the people do not understand English and knowing Japanese is the primary requirement for communication; which we didn’t know, what we understood was that she wanted to offer her umbrella. She was repeatedly pointing at my little daughter. I understood that she was concerned about my baby. I replied, “Its okay, our house is just a few steps away. ” But she was continuously forcing us to take the umbrella. We conveyed (through actions of course) how would she go and how can we return your umbrella?  She then opened her bag and showed us a spare umbrella. She meant that we don’t have to return it.We all were touched feeling that concern from a total stranger. It’s so true that we don’t need any language to show that we care.

I moved to Japan with my husband 7 years back. I come from a country which is culturally rich, this gives me immense pride, but hailing from a country of 125 crores imbibes me with so much of insecurity and apprehensions. We can be good by nature but to show that we are human is a rare trait. I am proud to say that I have started learning this trait finally after being associated with Japan over the years.

I have plethora of experiences which affected me or made a mark in my heart.

I have a plethora of experiences which affected me or made a mark in my heart or may be changed my way of looking at people from simply nodding heads  to hold the door for a stranger in a restaurant or not missing a single chance of thanking someone by saying,”Arigato Gozaimashita.”It looks simple and usual but are quite acts in our  homeland where we don’t actually give away smiles that easily.We are rather dubious when a complete stranger passes a smile.

I particularly remember one incident, Me and my 2-year-old baby girl were returning from hours-long shopping from the nearest supermarket in Bentencho, Osaka ; our home was two stations away; my baby was sleeping in the pram and the pram basket was full of my shopping goodies. The side from where I take the train for My station ( Osakako) didn’t have elevator It had an escalator which was going downwards.I understood that I have to carry my little one, but what would I do with the excess baggage and the pram. I was worried and lost in my thoughts ; the very moment a station incharge came, he asked me to wait, he too waited for those few commuters who were going down through the escalator then he immediately came near the escalator, put in the keys, changed some settings and made the elevator go upwards. I was simply astonished. He didn’t have to do that, but he did this. He showed his sensitivity; he showed that he is human. And that is not all, I used to visit the supermarkets often that way , so the same heavy pram and shopping bags were usual problems but every time I found some station incharge offering help, if he can’t help me with escalator due to rush then he’ll surely carry my pram all through the stairs.

When you live around people who don’t expect anything from you but are always there to help you without even asking for it, you actually start acquiring their behaviour.

I personally feel that when you live around people who don’t expect anything from you but are always there to help you without even asking for it, you actually start acquiring their behaviour.  The clouds of your apprehensions, dubiousness start diminishing and you start loving the new sunshine.

There is not even a single day when I don’t hear “Kawai ” when I go for a walk with my baby. I remember back in India, even when a mother praises her child, elderly people usually stop us in between saying “Nazar Lag Jayegi.“In the same way, women are prohibited from wearing fitting clothes during pregnancy so that no one can see her baby bump. In Japan, girls are purposefully given to wear such clothes so that the cute baby bump is visible. People in Japan immediately leave their seats in Metros and buses for Pregnant women and Senior Citizens. A special ramp is dragged by the bus driver every time any wheel chaired commuter wants to board the public bus.

All these incidents have inspired me to be more human. I too carry a spare umbrella during the rainy season. I too offer a hand to hold someone’s heavy bag, I never miss a word to appreciate something. I have slowly started believing and appreciating my own race.

I truly believe that if you be with something that is good you start turning better.

Japanese landscape image via Shutterstock

First published at the author’s blog

She is a blend of Patriarchy of Rajasthan and Matriarchy of Kerala. Her dad is

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  1. Really interesting…!!! Looking forward to read more from you 🙂
    All the best…!!!

  2. Very nice read, I guess any Indian appreciate these small human touch when they go to any other country – but unfortunately we come back and after few months of behaving good we start forgetting to stop our cars before the zebra crossing, hold the door to the next person coming behind you, stop a while for the mother and child crossing the road in the rush hour. We don’t even smile to the people we see daily on our way to work.

  3. Hi Neeti, very nice article. Good learning. I buy every point of yours. We are taught in school to lend a helping hand, follow road rules…etc. But once an adult all’s forgotten. Truly very inspiring incidents. Great writing. Thanks for this article.

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