I first came to Tokyo almost forty years ago, it was my first assignment in the United States Air Force. Back then, as we watched the Japanese enter the base in the morning we used to joke about how they all looked the same. Not just their physical appearance, but they all seemed to conform, dress alike, and have this same demeanor about themselves. All of the men wore business suits even if their jobs were modest such as cooks or janitors. They all wanted to appear to their friends and neighbors as "salary men". No one wanted to stand out from the crowd. Times have sure changed.
Japan has become the most dynamic culture in the world. New words are added to the vocabulary each and every day, the Ginza has become an international mecca for high fashion while Harajuku has become the world's center for teenage style and design. Every community, no matter how small, now boasts fine restaurants, bakeries, and coffee shops, and each and every person from child to adult seems so unique in dress, style, and attitude. This is especially so in Tokyo and to stand for any length of time in a district like Shinjuku or Shibuya and watch as thousands of people pass you by every few minutes is to see thousands of different styles pass you by too. It can be overwhelming to those who observe, impossible for one to keep up with. Each person seems to have his or her own individual look about themselves.
And now, it seems that it is we gaijins in Japan who have become so boringly the same.
© Travels with Charlie