Japanese Wisdom About USA Culture
I was talking to a Japanese woman the other day on the balcony of Poets’ Corner. I was smoking a pipe; she was wolfing down cigarettes. We both laughed a lot at what the other one said. She was in her fifties, and was traveling with her retired husband.
“I try to travel a little every year,” she told me, and then launched into some tales of the 35 times that she has traveled outside of Japan.
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She seemed to be a very happy women. She laughed at me when I would speak in Japanese.
We then got to talking about the USA, and her travels there. She told me about her first trip to the States, and how her mind was absolutely blown as she watched an American walking down the road with bare feet.
This seemingly simple act made a lifelong impression on her. I find the things that interest Japanese people to be rather wonderful. What seems like such a trivial observation to me, completely floored the perception of a Japanese women and altered her view of the world.
In Japan, nobody would think of walking down the street in bare feet, it is something that is socially impossible. So seeing this done so nonchalantly in another culture showed her that other ways of living are possible. I think that this is the great knowledge that only traveling can provide. To be blown away by such small seeming cultural contrasts is part of the wonders of traveling down the Open Road.
She also said something very wise about life in the USA:
She said, “In the USA, you have freedom with responsibility and equal opportunity with severe competition. I did not know this before I went there.”
Few people who have not been to the USA know this. Life is not easy in the USA, and people work for what they get or go home empty handed.
The Japanese woman’s statement is very true: the road to the pot of gold in any country is lined with thorns, obstacles, and road blocks.
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