It’s the people who have caught our attention. Mannered, calm and with a Japanese twist of shyness, not readily making eye contact. Across numerous districts and micro-cities, searching for the unusual, the historic and the quirky, we used our three words of faltering Japanese (konnichiwa, dōmo arigatō, sayōnara) to engage with as many people as we could. Fortunately, as ever, English is the universal second language.
Train conductors, retailers and hostel staff were so kind; and not in a sycophantic way. It’s simply genuine, taking responsibility for helping out, taking a pride in their country. This is a land of smiles and bows. No-one is expecting a tip.
Cities are perhaps the most supreme human social achievement. Millions of people just getting along. And here in the world’s biggest city, men can walk down the street with wallets hanging out of back trouser pockets, commuters obediently put tickets through machines which they don’t have to, and one young man told another to step back from Hilary’s view.