Individuality In Japan

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At night, when I look outside the window from my room at the Sanuki Club Hotel, I am amazed at how beautiful this city is. I can see city lights, the radiant orange glow of Tokyo Tower just a few buildings away and yet there is a silence to it all. There is an incredible considerateness here. Loud noises are kept to a minimum, construction sites have decibel monitors, and are completely sealed off from the roads. In walkways and escalators, people keep to one side of the street and form a somewhat single file line. This order helps promote the better functioning of the society as a whole. The sacrifice of individual importance for overall welfare is incredible. But also different from American culture.

During orientation at Rice University,
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I was greeted by three university students from the Akita prefecture. I ended up talking with them for a good hour, fully naked (one of the requirements of onsen). Besides the obvious naked relationship we all shared, we delved into quite interesting topics ranging from sustainability and agriculture to individuality. I learned that the young people in Japan are changing from a culture of wa (harmony) to individuality. The progress of actualization and extent of this change, I do not know. What I can conclude is that the presence of hierarchy in the lives of the Japanese is definitely very strong. Living in America, I know that certain people are to be respected, but I never feel as if I was constrained within a certain level in the hierarchal pyramid. For me, there is no pyramid and everything is quite flat. I feel like if I need to get somewhere, I can somehow forge a path there. I want to note that I am speaking from a rather privileged point as there are far more subtleties to what constitutes an equal playing field. Racism, sexism, ableism, and other –isms can make it harder for individuals to forge paths. For Japanese, I got this sense that one must adhere to a certain path to get somewhere. There seems to be this order that you must follow, that if you don’t then you would get looked down upon or such. I discussed further with my old Japanese friends and a sense of order and way definitely exists to some

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