Having seen the title, you must have the question that enthusiasm and restraint are obviously two opposite words, why I use both of them to describe Japanese? Well, last summer, I went to the three main cities in Japan, Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, what I saw and experienced there makes the relationship of these two opposite words rather subtle when describing Japanese.
As you may know, China have disputes with Japan over wartime history and territory issues, which makes the relations between these two countries strained. But, in fact, this exists mainly on the government layer, which means ordinary people are off the tension. I guess that is why I found local people were so nice and enthusiastic to us. They always smile to you or even laugh brightly. But on the other hand, they always behave themselves. They dress neatly and walk in fast pace, they try not to make any noise or even do not talk in public places. Below, I will show 3 cases I experienced in different cities to further testify my thoughts.
Case I: the kneeling service
In one famous Michelin 3 star restaurant, Kikunoyi, in Kyoto, I enjoyed the best service I have ever had. The waitress kneel down to serve through the whole meal and saw us off to the yard with the manager even if it was raining heavily. But faced with the kneeling services, if you were not born as a landlord, you would better have certain preparation. Otherwise, it would be really embarrassed to accept at first. While kneeling down is not only common in Japanese service industry, but also in certain Japanese families with strict disciplines. In these families, when husbands are gonging to work or back from work, wives need to kneel down by the door to see them off or wait for them.
Case II: Dotonbori in Osaka
Compared with residents in Tokyo or Kyoto, people in Osaka are thought to be more chipper and hearty. In Osaka, one of the most popular blocks is Dotonbori, where you can see a variety of vividly-designed 3-D moving restaurant signs. These bold and unconstrained designs are exactly the same with Osaka people’s characteristics! While in such a lively block, I seldom heard any loudly peddle words, for they keep the principle of never disrupting others. On such a abustle street, I seldom saw any gateway of restaurants crowed with waiting customers, because those restaurant will give customers a number and tell them the estimated time to come back in order to not block traffic.
Case III: be a gentlemen when picking up prostitutes
Japan has a reputation for its adults video industry. And from some Japanese TV soaps I watched, Japanese seem to hold an open mind for these things. To tourists, Kabukicho is the most famous entertainment and red-light district of Tokyo. Tourists like me are just curious about the thing that would never happen in their country and what they will do there is mainly sightseeing or taking pictures. So during my sightseeing there, I noticed one funny scene. Japanese really like to bow and nod when talking about something serious or with senior person. While out of the gate of one club, a man in neat business suit was consulting with the procuress, maybe about style and price I guess. During my no-more-than-10-second passerby sightseeing, I noticed that he bowed and nodded to the procuress for three times as if he was in a business negotiation!
Now, you should have known why I say Japanese have the enthusiasm to restrain!