What a society taught me in 4 words: Tokyo, Japan


I spent the summer interning with a sustainable travel company in Tokyo, Japan. I have always been fascinated by Japanese culture from its food to its fashion trends. A place I saw is at the forefront of most societal aspects I wanted to experience it for myself as well as learning about their sustainable aspects too with my internship company. From my experience of Interning in Tokyo with a sustainable tourist company, five key words stand out to summarise my experience:

Respectful, surreal, boundless and unforgettable.

Tokyo and other cities in Japan have distinctively different social norms to us in the UK. They are more collectively focused about other people. For example, minimal talking occurs on the subway system; this includes refusing a phone call from your boss and having to get off at the next subway station in order to answer the original call. Its streets are impeccably clean despite the rarity of finding a public bin. Citizens respect their public places as the same as their own homes, meaning despite its huge population density, Tokyo is a very clean city.

Japan was overall surreal; Explicitly, the diverse environments it possesses from idyllic sandy beaches, lushes mountainous landscapes (including mount Fuji) additionaly the giant, bright light city scape. Its diversity of landscapes was something I had in mind, but the perfection of these views and environments was what I had not anticipated. The beautiful perfection of these environments lined up in sync with the attitudes of Japanese people. They’re hardworking to the extent that everything must be completed to perfection and the reward of doing so is far greater than just doing whatever you can/feel like.

Thus, japan is already proving itself to be a boundless place. With so much going on around me it was hard to keep up. There was a variant of traditional festivals happening every weekend, incorporating the values and customs which makes up Japan today. Contrasting, there were many high-tech conventions, modern fashion exhibitions and DJ venues to visit. The stereotypical high-tech perception of Japan is well and truly alive; however, the importance of traditional value still remains. The Japanese perspective I saw, was “If it’s not broken why bother fixing it?” It should always remain unless proven otherwise, thus, creating a living breathing fusion of cultural contrasts among all ages of society.

Lastly, Japan is unforgettable, particularly because of the people I had met: From my international friends who I did my internship with, my work colleagues teaching me the norms of Japan, and a Japanese elderly couple who welcomed me into their home, their church and their family. I learnt a great deal from each three of these groups regarding making the most of japan, but also about myself in terms of skills, confidence and approaching my future. Japanese society has taught me the reward of hard work, a deeper level of respect/empathy, and to fully embrace who I am and what my skills are, especially in adaption to a new culture.

Categories: Asia, Go Abroad Fund, Japan

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