I’m missing Japan, as usual. One thing I’ve been thinking about is the neighbors. Japanese people are generally very considerate of others all the time, so they make great neighbors, in my experience. As my old Japanese professor said, With such a dense population, you have to be polite just to survive. Makes sense! … Too bad that’s not the philosophy in densely populated American cities (as much).
When I lived in an apartment in Japan, I didn’t talk much to the neighbors. We all had pretty different hours, and my Japanese skills weren’t (aren’t) amazing. Now and then I talked to someone while waiting for the elevator. Those exchanges were usually something like, “Hot, huh?” “Oh yeah, so hot!” in Japanese. A huge amount of communication is done non-verbally, too, but…
Anyway, I loved my neighbors because I never heard them or smelled any bizarre products they were using or had my place jarring from their heavy bass in the middle of the night. And even though I saw dogs and cats all the time — one of my favorite things was looking out from the balcony onto the rooftops of other, shorter buildings, where people would often hang laundry and play with their dogs — not once did I lose sleep or study time because one of those dogs was barking constantly. And all that is despite the fact that some windows and doors in Japan are literally made out of paper! If Japanese people can train their Shibas and Yorkies and mini-poodles to be quiet even while living in very small apartments, then I don’t understand why so many Americans can’t. Oh wait. Could it be because they can, but they just don’t?
I just wrote a ton about what makes my neighbors assholes, and I deleted it. It made me feel better to write, but it’s not necessary to share the stuff because… why complain? No one wants to read it.
It’s just that I don’t understand why Americans are generally so much less considerate of others than Japanese. Driving through a neighborhood with BLARING music. Burning wood in the driveway when you live in an apartment complex. Not picking up your dog poop. This stuff doesn’t happen in Japan — and maybe that’s why Japanese people aren’t always getting into fights and cussing each other out (and for that matter, shooting each other). I try not to piss off my neighbors, and I TRY to be kind to them even when they piss me off. But some of them…. I know that they’re not only not considering other neighbors, but actively not giving a fuck. There are people here who like to burn wood in a portable fire pit (which isn’t allowed in the community anyway), and they do it despite multiple complaints being made, and the “courtesy patrol” tell them to put it out. The only explanation for it is that they do not give a damn about anybody but themselves. It’s just shitty. Why is it like that here? How can I have pride in my country when really I am treated better in a foreign country? How can I ever enjoy being part of a community when no one seems to care about living in harmony with others? It depresses me that people are so inconsiderate.
I’m not trying to preach either. I’m sure I annoy people or have annoyed them — but if I know, then I stop. If someone says something, I apologize. I never knowingly bother anybody. If I even think my music might be a bit loud, I lower it. I don’t do anything that fills anybody’s home with smoke, that’s for sure. And when I drink, I save my beer bottles until the next day, so that I’m not waking up half the street throwing them in the empty metal dumpster at midnight. I don’t know. The point is that I try. I do think of the neighbors, even if I really want to tell them to go fuck off sometimes. I don’t try to get back at them. I don’t try to out-asshole them. I still consider them. I know I’m not the only considerate American, but…
We just have an asshole epidemic. Possible a pandemic. It’s depressing and frustrating, and also reason #46755725134675 why I want to go back to Japan. It’s just nice to be around people who are non-confrontational, non-obnoxious, non-aggressive. People interested in peace, who actually live the Golden Rule, despite not many of them even professing any religion. For a nation of Christians, we Americans are selfish and rude.
I’ll get back to Japan! I will. I will. I will.