Fast and Efficient

Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

Shibuya, Tokyo

My sister once referred to Japan as being “the Swiss of Asia” and I did not understand what she had meant. When I got to Japan, I quickly realized she meant the country is efficient and on time and also moves at a very fast pace. The pace of life in Japan is fast, especially in the cities, and it feels like you are in the midst of a whirlwind of activity going on all around you 24/7.

Time is very important in Japanese society. It seems every clock you see is correct and almost every means of transportation runs on time. If a train or bus is late, for example, you know there must have been a very good reason such as a traffic accident or some other form of delay. The trains and subways, in particular, run like clockwork and you can literally set your watch to a train’s arrival at the station.

I lived in Osaka for many years and I noticed pedestrian speeds were very fast. People walk on the left and even on the escalators and moving sidewalks people continue to walk at a fast clip. I was told this was not the case so much in Tokyo but during my visits to the nation’s capital I still found people going to and fro in a very determined and quick manner.

Service machines such as vending machines and ATMs work and are rarely out of order it seems. I still lose money in vending machines in Canada and have to go into the store and ask for my money back but in Japan this was rarely the case. Vending machines sell everything and almost all the machines I used worked perfectly and I never had any trouble getting what I wanted from them.

Japanese cars, buses, vans, “k-trucks,” motorcycles, and scooters are small and fast. Roads and lanes are narrow but vehicles of every kind somehow seem to manage to go down them without destroying much in their path! I was always amazed how a truck could move down a country road, sandwiched between a wall and a cliff which dropped off into a rice field, and yet maintain to safely manoeuver its way to safety.

Namba, Osaka, Japan

Namba, Osaka

When I flew back to Canada and spent my first day in Vancouver I was always surprised by, a) the sparse population in downtown Vancouver and, b) the seemingly snail-pace crawl of the pedestrians in the downtown area. I was still caught up in the Japanese high-speed walk and would find myself whipping in and out between people as I made my way down the sidewalk. As I started to slow down and adjust to the Vancouver downtown pace it felt as though I was walking through jello as everything seemed to move so slowing and leisurely.

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