Security and Manners

Something that really hit home this afternoon at Osaka Airport was the Japanese attitude to security. We both realised over the last few days that we’ve hardly seen any police on the streets in either Kyoto or Osaka.

Further, people tend to leave their belongings lying around in public, apparently without fear they’ll be stolen. In coffee shops, customers will leave bags, laptops or even mobile phones on the table they want to secure, while they go off to order their drinks.

At first, I thought they were mad. But then I realised that I’ve just lived in the UK too long. In London, anything not nailed down will be picked up and walked away with by some oik.

Leave a bag alone in London for two minutes and it becomes a “suspicious package”. Here, it’s someone saying “I want this seat”.

Yes, there’s been tons more terrorism in the UK than in Japan. But what I love about attitudes here is the simple trust people have in their fellow citizens.

Airport security here at Osaka was swift, efficient and friendly. No loud shouting at passengers, some real assistance from the security staff and a feeling that you were engaging in something worthwhile but also easy. Everyone involved was unfailingly polite.

I’ve also realised that I’m getting comfortable with this way of being. I plugged in my iPhone to charge while I went off to get a drink a few minutes ago. I’m slightly worried that London is going to be a bit of a rude shock to the system when we get home next weekend.

Still. I have a week in Tokyo ahead of me to enjoy life here before that.

And I realise that the couple of weeks I’ve spent in Japan don’t make me a sociological expert on life here. But I like what I’ve seen and it puts life in London into perspective.

Not always for the better.

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