There are so many people here, the main train stations are always busy round the clock, and heading into Shinjuku or Shibuya is enough to make your head spin with just the sheer number of people walking around.
And yet there are so many things that make it feel less crowded than at home…
It’s eerily quiet:
People are so quiet in public spaces. Almost no one uses their phone on the train and if they do they whisper so quietly it’s a wonder they can be heard by whoever is on the other end of the line. People don’t really talk on the train either… it’s amazingly quiet for the number of people all smooshed together. I’ve been on the train with 10 people in Chicago and it’s louder.
People are full of patience:
There is usually a line of some sort, whether it’s for food, the train or the bathroom, there is going to be a line. But it’s a line full of people quietly, patiently, not complaining about the line. I waited in line for 12 minutes 42 seconds once to get coffee… and no one complained… I know that, not because I am suddenly fluent in Japanese, but because no one said ANYTHING audible the entire time. I feel like at home people would have been complaining and both visually and audibly annoyed at the inconvenience around minute 5. It’s way easier to stay relaxed about waiting when everyone else is relaxed too.
“Let’s wait in line!”
“OK sounds great 🙂 “
It’s unbelievable clean:
I can count on one hand the number of pieces of litter I saw on the streets the whole month I was there. That’s not so amazing in itself, I’ve been witness to lots of clean cities. However when coupled with the fact that there are NO TRASH CANS, it’s freaking amazing. An entire city has been trained to take the trash they have/made with them until they get home to throw it away…what?!?! I’ve seen it, they literally ball up the wrapper/ tissue/ whatever and put it in their purse or pocket and carry on. I wonder what our streets would look like if garbage cans went away… *shudder*. It probably helps that eating on the go isn’t as popular here. Also when buying a drink from the awesome vending machines, most people stay at the vending machine and drink it there where there are recycling pods for bottles and cans attached.
Public parks are a haven:
You would think that in a city of 13 million people the public parks of that city would feel just as busy, but some how they don’t. Everyone just kind of spreads out and does their own thing.
Besides the traditional park activities like reading, strolling and picnics, parks also seem to be an unofficial meeting space in a city where renting a space is probably quite expensive. We saw people practicing plays, dances and sports, we practiced in the park and no one even gave us a second glance.