“How many Japanese workmen does it take to change a lightbulb? Ten – one to change it and nine others to stand around watching him doing it!!”
That may be a cr*p joke but at times it seems like Japan has zero unemployment as those businesses in the service sector are characterised by half a dozen people doing the work which one would probably do elsewhere in the world. This is particularly the case in shops and restaurants where each and every one will utter “irasshamase” as you walk in. This welcome, though occasionally over the top, was something I missed when I went back to England nearly two years ago where the service is just not a match compared to here.
The same can also be said of some of the foreign bars in Japan too where a few times I have had my change just slapped down on the counter without the usual running commentary that takes place during each checkout transaction. Service with a smile is important and you certainly get that in Japan especially from the cuties who are the predominant figures in the service industry or maybe it just seems that way as they are the ones I remember!
It may also have something to do with Japan being a society where theres still a strong sense that women are here to serve which is further reinforced by the weekly magazines including the womens ones. I shouldn’t forget about the men though, especially my mate Keisuke who has been in Tokyo selling Mango juice this last week which he constantly did with a joyful smile.
However, one of the most mesmerizing parts of Japanese service has to be in ensuring that you don’t have an accident of sorts when construction work is being done. A cone or no entry/danger sign is usually sufficient overseas and they have them here but on top of that they also have what is usually an old man (ojiisan). He waves a fluorescent baton type lightsaber at you thereby shepherding you in the most obvious of directions which more often than not is just the direction you’re walking in anyway! These most unnecessary employees have even been stood in a corner ushering pedstrians along in the one possible direction!
As for controlling the traffic, a one armed flashing mannequin is employed to direct traffic but it seems these mechanical 2D robots can’t be trusted fully so the 24 hour ojiisan is employed to watch that and assist too and just to be safe a colleague or two are usually just a few yards away doing the same pointless job. Nevertheless it is these kind of things that make living in Tokyo so different and memorable compared to what we may consider more “normal” in the western world.