|第49期 2005 12月号|
茅ヶ崎方式英語会 本 校 会 報
I visited Japan for the first time during the summer of 2005. I was born and raised in New York City and had never visited anywhere outside of the United States other than the United Kingdom and Canada, so the only thing I knew about Asia in general is what I had seen on television or read in books. Usually when you see Japan on television in the US, you see droves of people crammed into a very small space, and the reality of the situation did live up to those images.
◆イギリスとカナダ以外には行ったことがないので、私のアジアに関する知識は、 本やＴＶから得られたものである。アメリカのＴＶで見る日本は、人々が狭い ところに押し込められている姿であり、日本の現状は本などの知識から想像さ れたとおりだった。
My immediate impression was that, yes indeed, it is very crowded. I also felt a tropical heat and humidity more intense than anything I had experienced before. After that, I noticed how clean all of the surfaces and streets were, even in areas that were especially crowded. Initially, I thought there must be a small army of people to clean up after everyone on a round-the-clock basis. I later figured out that this was not the case, and that public areas were clean simply because people did not automatically litter like they do in the United States. So my initial impression of Japan was: crowded, hot and clean. After a couple of days I started to make other observations. People rode bikes instead of driving cars or walked or took the bus. It almost seemed chaotic to me because people literally rode their bikes everywhere: on the sidewalk, on whichever side of the road they pleased, even down stairs.
People seemed to live healthier lives. They ate healthier food. If anyone from the US is planning a trip to Japan, you better like fish, vegetables and rice or you're in for a rude awakening. I observed a somewhat interesting paradox within this healthy society. I observed the presence of something I haven't seen in a very long time: cigarette vending machines, and lots of them filled with cheap cigarettes, just like we used to have. I was surprised to see that smoking was still very much accepted when it has been almost banned in all pubic places and there have been no vending machines in the US for more than 10 years.
I expected Japan would be ahead of the curve in that regard.
◆日本人は、米、野菜、魚など健康によい食べ物を摂る。その一方で、喫煙に対 して寛大なのは大きな驚きである。喫煙に関しては、今後アメリカ並みに変わ っていくものと思われる。
There seemed to be less importance placed on the individual and more emphasis focused on society at large. Japanese people, at their core, appear to all be team players at heart. Even the so-called misfits of the society are not really all that misfit, certainly not by American standards of anti-social behavior.
◆日本では個人よりも社会に重きが置かれており、日本人全体が社会型人間のよ うに思われる。日本での社会不適格者と言われている者も、必ずしも本当の意 味で社会不適格者ではないし、ましてやアメリカの基準からすると、全く社会 不適格者とは言いがたい。
The waiters at the pizza chain are all very friendly and eager to do their job. The cab drivers are dressed in full uniform, wear white gloves and actually handle your luggage for you. Even the kids who hand out flyers on the street for the local hair salon work very hard to give everyone a coupon or whatever it is they're handing out. All this in a country that is not accustomed to tipping.
◆レストランのウェイターは愛想がよい。タクシーの運転手は制服に身を包み手 袋までしている。ヘアサロンのチラシ配りをしている若者も、懸命に働いてい る。こういったことが、チップという習慣のない国で見られるのである。
I think above all I noticed a kind of accountability I was not accustomed to witnessing. People seemed to trust each other more. I saw many bikes left on the street that were not locked up. I saw people in restaurants leave their valuables on the table while they visited the restroom.
I drew the conclusion that Japanese people are almost forced to be more accountable to each other because they are forced to live so close together and this makes them all responsible for upholding a certain standard of citizenship that is higher than most of the civilized world. There is an obvious inner strength within these people who were able to build and then rebuild a tiny island into a global super power and they are a testament to what can be accomplished through cohesive will and determination.
◆日本人は、他の文明国家よりも高い社会的基準を維持するとともに、小さな島 国を世界の経済大国にした内面的な強さを持っている。このことは、日本人の 持つ粘り強さと行動力の証となっている。