Commuting is part of the daily life of the Japanese workers. It is very seldom that the Japanese drive to their work (not unless they live in the provinces). Most of the time they just drive their cars and park them and then take the train.
When they are in the train, they usually read books, comic magazines and they are very quiet and polite. They are respectful, courteous and polite to other passengers.
So, when you are travelling in Japan, make sure to respect this and not be a boisterous or loud passenger!
When you happen to go to a restaurant and have a hibachi, make sure to just get the food that you can eat and finish even if it's an all you can eat restaurant.
Try to get the meat or seafood that are easy to cook- choose the ones that are thinly sliced so you can cook them faster.
Also, make sure to wash your hands before going to pick and choose the food that you wanted to cook with the hibachi.
The school children in Japan are trained at an early age to become very independent and reliable. It is part of their culture. Although not literally imposed by their government, it is, however, implemented and practiced in schools.
School children are encouraged to walk to school by themselves. The high school children bike to school, both the boys and the girls. So, you will see early in the morning school childen walking to school in groups while the high schoolers bike. The girls bike in their school uniforms - in their skirts even! (So, sometimes, I smile to see them in their bloomers!)
This was a culture shock for me when I got to Ibaraki.
There are so many reasons why they do these: the people of Japan save a lot of money on energy and gas by encouraging their people to walk or bike. It is good for the economy because they save money (for maintenance of car, buying for gasoline and oil, and removes congestion on the streets) and makes their people healthy. The regular walking and biking is a forced exercise! (The average life span of the Japanese people last year was 82 years old).
When the children are late in school, then that's the only time, they bring their children to school. Other than that excuse, the school children are encouraged to walk to school. The kindergarten, however, are dropped off by their parents.
The garbage pick ups in Ibaraki, Japan are scheduled on a particular day. We set up the garbage bags at a designated area close to the road and the pick up truck will come and take them away.
The garbage should be in white transparent bags. (In the United States, the garbage are usually put in black garbage bags and then put in a garbage can provided by the garbage company).
If the garbage are not put in plastic transparent bags, they trucks won't pick them up. There is also recycling in Ibaraki and every residential house has their own recycling bins.
People in less blessed regions usually complain about their lawmarkers. Not in Ibaraki, where we know our representatives are working hard for the people. Recently the Local Assembly passed a reglament that prohibits assemblymen to attend sessions wearing.... a mask, not like the ones we see in SARS affected countries, but like the masks we see in wrestling matches. Yes, maybe they are not that brilliant, but brave they are.
If you happen to be President of the USA, be sure to include Ibaraki in your after-presidence tour. Mr. Clinton was paid the modest sum of 400.000 US dollars to give a motivational speech to a large group of high school students. He also dined with politicians and other sub-species making this visit an "over night trip".