Alex owns one of the few bookstores specialized in Japanese culture, and his passion for the Land of the Rising Sun has led him to travel there frequently and to soak up its fascinating traditions. On his travels, notebook in hand, he has witnessed countless unbelievable, sometimes hilarious situations––or so they seemed to a Westerner’s eyes. Did you know that in a Japanese store, it is almost impossible for an attendant to say “We’re out of that?” They prefer to tie themselves in knots trying to appease their customer with a different product. Did you know they will go out of their way to help us if we ask for directions? Even if they themselves don’t know where it is, they will accompany us through the intricate streets of the country’s cities to find it.
Though for us they are surprising, these attitudes are deeply rooted in their people and are the basis of their happiness, their shiawase. They even have specific names that define or accompany them, and we can learn great lessons from their meaning.
Lessons that will help us not only improve our daily lives, but also those of others, because we will realize that altruism is the core of this millennia-old culture.