5 Things I learned in Japan – by Adam Marelli


NYC-based photographer Adam Marelli traveled to Japan for a project called “Master Craftsmen: An Endangered Species” and shares his experience.

For those of you who have not visited Japan, as a photographer or a traveler, it is an experience that should not be missed.  Life in Japan is a sensory inversion.  Even the sprawling mass of Tokyo is a surprisingly civil and makes almost any country seem like a free for all.  This is not to say that Japan’s apparent civility is better or worse than other countries, but it is certainly unique.  After nearly a month, I was ready to come home, but find myself missing aspects of Japanese life immediately.  What do I miss?  Here is a quick list:

• Japan is clean, I mean really clean.  I saw public toilets cleaner than most people’s homes in America.

• Trains that are always on time.  The Shinkansen “Bullet Train” averages 40 seconds late a year.

• Every restaurant presents you with a fresh hot towel.

• The toilets are phenomenal.  I am not sure how to say this politely, but the toilets are genius.  All I could think was “what kind of cavemen are we that we still use toilet paper.”

• No one throws public tantrums.  The daily display of childish tantrums (by adults) I see everyday in NYC is embarrassing.

• While London taxi drivers have the best geography, the white gloved Japanese taxis are half a tier under a private limousine.  It makes for the most pleasant door to door drive.

• Speaking of taxis, in Japan there is no tipping.  Unlike NYC taxis, who have the audacity to ask for up to 30% tips, in Japan this is a no go.  In some cases it’s even considered disrespectful.  I used to work for tips as a teenager, but now I realize that it creates an unnecessary strain between the customer and service provider.  Companies should pay salaries, not tips.  It makes for such a relief.

• The details of maps, architectural details, and courtesies hold historical secrets to Japanese culture.

Read more and see additional photos on Adam’s blog.

Kinnin-ji Temple Complex

“Kennin-ji Temple Complex,” Kyoto, J A P A N. Leica Monocrhom, 35mm Summilux f/1.4 version II. © Adam Marelli

Clean Streets

“Clean Streets,” Sakai, J A P A N. Leica Monochrom, 35mm Summilux f/1.4 version II. © Adam Marelli

Japanese Emotion

“Japanese Emotion,” Okayama, J A P A N. Leica Monochrom, 35mm f/1.4 Summilux version II. © Adam Marelli


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