O.C. Stands For Orderly and Calm Japanese (Even at the Height of Disaster)

We flew back from Japan last Thursday midnight, less than 24 hours before the earthquake struck.  Partly, we feel like we escaped major disaster.   However, we were in Tokyo from March 1-8 and then in Osaka from March 8-10 so we were generally safe there, far far away from the epicenter and the tsunami.  They do say there was an earthquake while we were in Osaka but we had not noticed or heard about it.

When disaster struck last Friday, I was just shocked to hear the news and see the images but mostly, we were just very relieved we were home to be with our daughter.  The thing that struck me most in the news reports was how they kept saying how orderly the Japanese remained even at the height of the disaster.

The Japanese customers patiently waiting in line at a convenience store. This photo from the CNN News Blog was in one of the hardest hit areas, Sendai.

People lining up for the pay phones. Credit: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Unlike other disaster aftermath news reports, there were no incidents of looting, stealing or violence in the streets.  The CNN News Blog provides some insight on why the Japanese are this way.  They say it is deeply ingrained in their culture, that they put value on community over individuals.

And this was one of the first things that stood out with me during our visit there.  People were generally considerate.  They were very thoughtful of others.  In the subways, it would be crazy but people would always be letting other people through.  There was no such thing as subway rage.  If you did something nice for a Japanese local — like my husband who offered his seat to a woman carrying a toddler on the subway — she thanked him profusely and kept bowing even though she still declined the seat as she was going down at the next stop.  In our ryokan, there were signs everywhere to keep quiet after 10pm to be considerate to other guests.  In subway stations, restaurants, malls, the noise level was noticeably low.   There were no raised voices and loud laughter (which we are so used to here in Manila).  The noisy ones were mostly tourists.  Most restaurants requested to refrain from using your mobile phone.

And I loved this about them.  They were not selfish, very considerate, very decent.  This is the psychological and emotional reason why they are an O.C. orderly people.  And I believe these traits will help them survive this tragedy.  My prayers go out to, probably, the most considerate, and thus orderly, people on Earth, the Japanese.

©OCMominManila

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16 Responses to O.C. Stands For Orderly and Calm Japanese (Even at the Height of Disaster)

  1. mymommyology says:

    1. Of course I am more than relieved you missed all the chaos, even if you were technically safe and far (and even if I haven’t given birth yet).

    2. Galing ng Japanese no? They have some sort of that quality here too — although the looting would have probably happened. But generally a considerate, decent respect for other people, especially the handicapped, pregnant and those with children.

    • 1. Me too! Even if we would have been safe, the stress would have been major too.

      2. Yes, why do we have this “every man for himself” mentality here or even in some other countries?

  2. Tanya says:

    They are amazing. Some people might consider it stoic, I think they are just strong and pragmatic. It makes me feel so much more for them. They’re going through so much and they’re going to go through so much more. We just have to keep praying for them, and I guess for us.

    Am glad you guys got home before it happened.

    • They do have this stoic look about them. But oddly, because of this concern for others, I feel the emotions run deeper.

      You know, you were the first one who texted me about the earthquake =)

  3. sam says:

    Amazing people. My trainer was telling me this morning that he saw a video of how cars were making orderly u-turns as a wave of water was approaching. Everyone just waited for their turn on the street!

  4. Wow you are so lucky that you got home safe and sound! And yes I feel for the Japanese and my respect and admiration has grown tremendously in the past few days!!!

    One time I was feeling particularly down after a trip to this other country (I wont name names) wherein the people don’t watch where they are going, don’t say excuse me, bump you then don’t apologize. They also don’t giveway to old and pregnant people on the train. It made me so sad. My friend said I would really like in Japan because of how polite people are… And I love how you highlighted that in your post.

    Reading it and seeing the pictures made me cry. Especially the face of the old man in the telephone booth – i can’t put words to describe the sadness in his face =( There really is no sense in this calamity yet the way they are handling it such an inspiration to the whole world.

    • Email me the name of that country, I won’t go there! But I have a feeling I’ve been there already. Sounds familiar.

      The old man does look very sad. I can imagine those working in Tokyo and not being able to contact their families

  5. Kaho says:

    Thank you so much for a beautiful post contributing to Japan. What a time to travel to Japan and the timing is just impeccable!! I would be so happy to be united with my family, too. It is interesting that there was no crime seen in Japan after the earthquake had struck. Japanese people are calm in such state of emergency partly because they always have somewhere in mind that they need to prepared for the disaster caused by an earthquake, but also I feel like they might be beyond being shocked. Even my parents who live in Tokyo are in shock with what they experienced in Tokyo and seeing what’s happening in Sendai. I can’t stop watching the news. Just like DiploWife said, the photo with the old guy makes me very sad. I am quite emotional these days. Thanks again for the kind words.

    • Thank you Kaho and welcome to the blog =)

      Are you Japanese? I hope your parents and other relatives are doing better, not just physically but emotionally also.

      Even though we were just there for a few days, my heart goes out to them — the moms on bikes with babies in the carrier, the senior citizens walking as fast as the others on the sidewalk, the little independent school children.

      You’re lucky to be part of an amazing culture Kaho.

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