We live in a decent mansion right across Shin-Sugita station in Yokohama. Adjustment to culture, marriage life and society is a hell of a challenge. My husband can speak a bit of English which is a relief however, it takes a while for him to understand me so I sound like a broken record most of the time. My son, Raiken, started his class at Nakahara Elementary a week after our arrival. We walk 3 km going to school from which I am unaccustomed to. It had left me no option, because they do not use a rickshaw for short distance travel, only bicycles.


Within two months, I met two Filipina who also have kids attending the same school. I keep a prosaic form of friendship with them. I also call it "race withdrawal" or maybe I was more curious of what Japanese women are like. My husband introduced me to his previous co-worker Yamada San, an "otaku" (a person who is obsessed into anime stuff). She gave me a toy figure "Saber" a character in Fate Stay Night and K-on phone charms. As much as I would like to enjoy her company, its pretty frustrating that our language differences becomes a barrier.


We have three subway stations around town like JR and Seaside (unmanned train) on the North 150 m away, then Keikyuu on the West side which is 400 m farther. My Filipino friend would always take me to Yokohama because she has to deliver a package or send remittance for someone .. I reckoned this as a learning experience of their train system Keikyuu offer two types of train:. Local (Futsu) and Express (Kyuko) Local takes 45 mins before you reach Yokohama because it stops at every station, but if you board a local train from Shin-Sugita and get off Kamiooka then exchange train to Express, it will drop you to Yokohama in 20 minutes. Shin-Yokohama Station is a newer private rail line than Yokohama Station. And by the way, Tokyo is one hour travel from Shin Sugita via JR line.


A bustling city in Japan


High tech gadgets, cosplay, anime, vocaloids, kawaii fashion, sushi bar, tendon restaurants, ramen, a bunch of vending machine (Jidouhanbaiki), Pachinko slot machines, convenience stores, huge shopping malls, hyakku (100) yen shops, izakaya, matsuri festivals, bicycle parking zone are some of the interesting stuff you will find in Japan. But what impresses me most is their balance of culture and technology, the undying sense of nationalism and politeness in their character.


Jidouhanbaiki


Pachinko Slot Machines


TRAFFIC
My jaw dropped when I saw cars reducing speed on a yellow light traffic. I told to myself, "Damn, I am in a real world now". If you happen to pass an alley and there is an oncoming car, it stops and let you cross ahead. For us, it has been customary to violate traffic rules, race with cars and people. We seldom use the pedestrian lanes and overpass instead we cross over the fence or do jaywalking even if the sign "Bawal tumawid dito, nakamamatay" is already slapping our face.


GARBAGE
Their garbage collectors wear proper gears. Pet bottles are separately collected every Wednesday while the rest are picked up on Tuesday and Saturday. Tin bins along the sidewalk are labeled as non-combustible, combustible materials and plastic. For us, garbage is the least thing we care about. Indeed, Filipino loves halo halo because we just put them all together in one bag. The reduction of use of plastics in our country is futile if we do not know the discipline of throwing the garbage.


LOW CRIME RATE
Crime fighting is less. I am totally safe to walk in the street at late night. People seems to leave their bicycles everywhere and for those who accidentally left their belongings behind like umbrella can still be found on the same place the next day or is surrendered to the police's lost and found station. They have this honesty and respect to each other which we kinda lack nowadays. We become scaredafobic to use our expensive phones in public places because we always think it invites threat. We suspect the bus driver, the passenger beside us, friends and even our own family. According to http://www.asianoffbeat.com/post/Asia 's-10-Most-Corrupt-Countries-news-844, Philippines is the most corrupt country in Asia, whence Honesty became an endangered facet of our moral character.


SERVICE
I have dined in at several restaurants here and I noticed that waiters or staff provides each customer an "Oshibori", a wet tissue to sanitize the hands before eating. You summon the waiter by pressing a small button found at the corner of the table. Waiter suddenly pops out of your sight with a tablet device on hands ready to take order. Whoah, isn't that cool? And take note, they don't ask for tips. I admit, Philippine sometimes sucks when it comes to customer service because of the feeling "The management, not the customer is always right.


This observation is not meant to insult our ways but to give us a realization of our diminishing GMRC (good manners and right conduct). We love to complain and blame others of our own fault but the change must start within us and the rest should follow.



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