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  • Straight from the Heart

Sweet Little Unforgettable Things

Anmona Handique Mahanta


Japan is always known for its impeccable punctuality, its splendorous ways of manifesting and preserving both traditional and contemporary cultural heritage, their incredible love and devotion towards nature, surroundings and their country. Beyond sheer hospitality to being the gracious hosts, I have always heard about the concept of mindfulness in Japan that is not only just a saying on a piece of paper but I can say, it is indeed for real. Today, through this column, I would like to pen down my thoughts on a few fascinating moments that have been experienced in this country or can say, could be experienced only in this country which will forever remain imprinted in my heart.


It is all about some of the little memorable incidents that have been experienced by a few of my own people, my friends and needless to say, by myself that are really special, somewhere just so moving, and something that needs to be appreciated and adopted by everyone out in this small demanding world.


So, my first story goes back to the year 2016, when my parents-in-law for the first time visited Japan and had come all way to see and meet their son. Well! I didn’t arrive at Japan at that time and therefore couldn’t be a part of such a pleasant moment which they had experienced and yet carries it all through their heart. It was during the summers they visited Japan for two weeks and one morning they decided to accompany their son to the train station as he was heading for his office. It was hardly a 10 minutes’ walk distance and with such beautiful surroundings anyone would feel like to take a morning stroll. They seemed confident to head back to home safely and at their will, my better half also thought they could find their way back home. After he boarded his usual morning train, they were now on their own, heading back to home.


The author at Kyoto, Japan


Enthralled at the beautiful surroundings filled with colorful gardens, cute houses and polished roads both of them got confused and lost their way to home. Neither they could explain exactly where they were when they called up their son nor was he in a position to guide them. Indeed! It was a helpless situation. Of course, they were completely safe since it was Japan and the only big hurdle was of communicating with each other. It was a typical Japanese residential area. They thought of approaching people who were passing by but again language was the big barrier. Watching them confused and upset, a Japanese lady with her baby tied at her back approached them. And it was only through gestures the conversation could happen. Gladly, my mother-in-law had an awesome memory for she remembered the address and that is how the sweet Japanese lady through usage of Google map all way accompanied them until she found the house. And that was how my parents-in-law could finally reach home being very grateful to the kindhearted selfless Japanese mother who despite being a stranger bothered to drop them home safe. Precisely, such moments are one of a kind that was and can be experienced in Japan filled with such genuineness and simplicity.


Another such interesting incident took place just after three months of my arrival in Japan. Similar to the metro rail system in Delhi, here also we have a card known as IC card for day-to-day commute and for other purposes. Incidentally, I lost my card way back home which I realized pretty late, say, three days later when I was all set to board for a train. I searched everywhere at home as I didn’t remember dropping it anywhere midway. I could also recall how successfully I made my last exit using the card. Seeing me all witlessly looking for the card at home, my better half told me, ‘it either must have fallen somewhere at the station or somewhere around and in either case, you are getting it back for sure’.


I was wondering the whole night what if it's completely lost and was feeling all guilty for a good amount was recharged by him the other day.So, next day we went to the station to inform at the counter and make a new card and to my utter surprise they were just waiting for me to hand over the IC card. They said a gentleman found the card lying on the floor outside and so they were all waiting for me to collect it. I was simply awe-struck to what they said and all I can recall what my better half told me the previous day. And from this I would say, such interesting things can really happen in Japan.


Yes, this is known to any visitor to this country no matter whether he comes for a short or a long-term stay. It is known to all that Japan is a place with the lowest crimes than any other place on this earth which I have myself felt, where lost items are returned safe and unharmed and you can just walk safe anywhere, especially when it comes to girls and women. And this is one of those many reasons, for which I want to stay in this place. It’s so safe and comfortable no matter wherever I choose to go.


A similar incident was experienced by one of my better half’s friends, who had once lost his wallet on his way back home. Not only the essential identity cards were intact but it also had a pretty good amount of money in it. Although both were upset at the loss, they however had hopes that they will find it somewhere around if the location is well recalled. The very next day, my better half accompanied him to the nearest police station of that particular location and fortunately it was all there at the station.


‘A random guy came to us yesterday night around 10 p.m. and handed over your wallet,’ hope everything is there as it was.....’, the police official apparently said.


Stunned to find all the things intact, they both thanked the police and happily headed for their work. Later, they told me that such a miracle was possible only because it was Japan where not only as a person, one is valued and respected but his or her belongings too.Yes! It is just incredible.


View at Gamagori, Japan


As we all know Japanese are very disciplined and such art of discipline and acts of mindfulness are actually ingrained in them right from their childhood at home, and school and hence are also witnessed at the public places. And treasuring such admirable unique moments so far experienced in this country, another such incident which I came across was with a small little boy. It was around 3 p.m. in the evening when we were returning home from somewhere on a weekend. Unlike with IC card in the train station, one can also make an exit buying a ticket. That day I was the one with the ticket and my better half carried his card. He made the exit already and I was just about to, where later I got stuck. Trying to figure out how to make an exit, I saw a small little boy right beside me curiously staring at the situation holding his own IC card.


So, one has to touch the IC card and can make an exit or entry and one holding a ticket has to insert at the gate while entering and making an exit. Again, there are two gates or at times more than two gates at a station. In our case, our station had two gates. So, when I was about to make an exit, we found that the ticket insertion space was sealed for some construction reason. I was confused at what to do because my better half already made an exit and was waiting for me at the other side. To my surprise, the little boy aged around 6/7 years didn’t pass through the gate wherein he could have easily done it. He was anxiously waiting for me until I was able to make the exit. Ironically, he seemed more tensed than my husband to find out a solution for my exit. He was checking out the insertion space wondering what was actually wrong. He curiously gazed at me and then again at the gates. However, after 10 minutes of brain storming, we both realized that there was another exit and so I gestured him to explain that I’ll go by the other way and that he can leave. The little boy gave a quick humble smirk and happily made his exit towards the side where my husband bade him a happy goodbye admiring his sense of maturity and kindness at such a young age.

Indeed, we were both stunned at such righteous attitude of the young Japanese boy. It still touches my heart of such flawless sensibility which is rarely seen in today’s young generations. Here, children are not only exposed to school education but more emphasis is given on nurturing the essence of true mindfulness. And aptly, this could be the reasons that such habits are more often witnessed even at public places.


There are many such incidences and heartwarming experiences that I have come across in this land of Sakura and the same have also been experienced by a few of my friends living here. These little moments are really precious and are just unforgettable when it comes to Japan. And it is highly appreciable of them that such a genuine culture is maintained so selflessly which the whole world needs to learn and adapt sooner for a better society and for making this world a better place.


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