Tokyo (Samurai – “those who Serve” or “to Serve and Attend”)

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“ The Last Samurai, in which Tom Cruise plays Nathan Algren, a celebrated American soldier who is brought to Japan to modernize their army and fight the samurai. Defeated in battle, Algren is brought back to the samurai village where he gains a deep respect for their contemplative, tradition-steeped way of life and their Bushido code of honor “

Said Algren in the movie

“ There is so much here I will never understand. I’ve never been a church going man, and what I’ve seen on the field of battle has led me to question God’s purpose. But there is indeed something spiritual in this place. And though it may forever be obscure to me, I cannot but be aware of its power”

A group of friends, my family and I visited Tokyo early October 2015 for a short vacation and indeed we were totally impressed by how the Japanese people lived their lives. It is no wonder Japan is being highly regarded as an efficient developed country.

Everywhere we went, we saw people working in great speed and doing things efficiently. The way they walked (fast), the way they served customers (with good knowledge and clear explanation) demonstrated their pride and accountability in whatever they did. There was a sense of urgency in accomplishing their task and this can be seen clearly through their body language as well as facial expression.

The education system must have undoubtedly played an important role in shaping up these disciplined adult individuals. The feeling of pride, honor and shame (upon failure) must have been instilled into them since young.

Trust and integrity were clearly noted ; as can be seen by how a Yakitori (grilled skewered chicken) street stall seller just allowed his customers to pick whatever they wanted and trusted them to pay the correct amount of money when they finished. There seemed to be no doubt of one’s honesty.

In a food court, the manner in which they utilized vending machines where food was ordered and paid made it very efficient. Customers can pick from a poster-menu, put money into the machine and they will be given a coupon to collect food at designated counters. This method indeed wiped away the need for a human cashier susceptible to human-errors.

Professionalism can be clearly seen too. Whether one was a receptionist, a front desk manager, a cleaner, young or old, – all of them spoke with authority and firm when giving instructions & orders. We saw distinguished power-businessmen in suit taking instructions from waitresses ; bowing as they did what they have been told to do. They respected one another as a human being and the job each individual was doing. There was pride and honor in everyone regardless of status and position. No special treatment was given to the “upper class”. But then again, no one seem to be asking to be treated in privileged manner too.

In one incident at our hotel, a front desk officer was in doubt if I understood him as he was trying his best to explain to me in English on some matters related to my room. Even as I have nodded my head telling him that I understood, he still ran to a translator to have her explain to me what he wanted to convey in English. The point is – he really wanted to ensure that his job is completed in totality and that I fully understood what he wanted to tell me.
Such perfectionism and care !!

The Japanese are certainly proud of their language. We see them conversing, replying and greeting us in Japanese even though they most probably knew that we did not understand.

In areas of practicality, the hotel we stayed had a washing machine and dryer for us to do our laundry ; and housekeeping only cleaned our room every 2 days. Made sense to me.

In Japan everyone plays their role and did exactly what they are supposed to do with passion. We saw no bystanders sitting around doing nothing, neither did we see any group of workers idling around or chatting amongst themselves. Everyone is simply busy busy busy. As can be seen at the Disney Sea world, it took the effort of everyone from the cleaners, ushers, baby pram attendant, waitresses at the cafeteria to make the visitors’ experience organized and guided. Despite the lack of English language spoken or written as instructions, we knew what to do and where to go. A truly great example of teamwork amongst the workers at Disney Sea.

When it comes to discipline and behaviour, it was amazing to see how “stationary-standing” people automatically congregated to the left-side on an escalator; whereas people who preferred to walk took the right lane.

Overall, we were totally impressed. Impressed to witness their culture and the strong energy they have within them to accomplish what they had to do. Further, we saw that it is not just a minority of the Japanese people who posses all these good values, but in fact everyone in general behaved in this similar manner. Well at least in Tokyo they did.

To achieve these strong values, the upbringing of Japanese children must have focused greatly on pride, honor, discipline and integrity. This must have been the foundation of shaping up the whole population of Japan behaving in humility, striving for perfection and having accountability in whatever they do.

When a country has everyone holding so strongly to these powerful principles, it is no wonder that the whole country can move forward progressively in great speed.
In closing, I will take another quote from Nathan Algren from the movie the Last Samurai ……

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“They are an intriguing people. From the moment they wake, they devote themselves to the perfection of whatever they pursue. I have never seen such discipline. I am surprised to learn that the word Samurai means, ‘to serve’ “


Integrity / Courage / Benevolence / Politeness / Sincerity / Honor / Loyalty / Self-Control


Willie @ Tokyo @ 2-10 Oct 2015

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