Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A few impressions...

Well, I'm leaving for the U.S. Naval Base in about 10 minutes so I don't have time to do anything else, so I thought I'd post a few brief impressions of my trip so far.

Everybody I talk to who works in government here really admires what they call the 'volunteer spirit' in the U.S. Nonprofit organizations, community groups, and NGOs have been growing in Japan in recent years and most are modeled on similar programs in the U.S. While I don't claim to be a representative of these kind of groups (do work for free?), I have come to admire the people who volunteer their time to make even a small part of society better.

The Japanese are excellent hosts. It is a little intimidating that everwhere I go, someone seems to have read a brief summary of my background, but at the same time, every facility I visit involves a greeting and brief discussion of the head of that facility or department. The managers or department heads are always very friendly and are generally interested in finding out what my interests are. They always give me a brief explanation of the history and mission of their organization or section and make sure I understand what they're telling me. If I don't know a word, they will define it before moving on. Someone always comes in the room with green tea or coffee (usually coffee - I guess they figure I like it more since I'm American) and we have a pleasant chat for 20 minutes or so before I get the tour. This always helps me feel at ease before kengaku (observational tours for the purpose of learning).

Well, I had better get ready. It is pouring today and I couldn't find my umbrella this morning. I am now on my 3rd since coming here. My first one broke in the wind, the second (which I couldn't find this morning) was given to me, and seeing my pants soaked, the head of the International Affairs Division gave me another one today. Luckily, I did bring a rain coat with me, so it was only my pants that got wet. I will try to be careful with this third umbrella.

I think I am going to get to eat American pizza for lunch today! A real large pizza with no tuna, corn, potatoes, or mayo on it! Maybe I can find some dryer sheets and contact lens solution that isn't half the size of an American bottle at twice the price. We'll see...

In case I don't get to post tonight, I will also say that after this busy day at work, I am going to dinner tonight at Yakiniku (grill-your-own Korean BBQ) for a reception for foreign students of the Japanese Defense Academy. Should be a good time...

1 comment:

Onigiriman said...

the Japanese are good at this because relationships is all about kone, right? so you have to massage and stroke... wait, that doesn't sound right...