Having just arrived back to Europe from a business trip to Tokyo, Japan, it once again striked me how cultural differences has a big impact on our behaviour and perception.

In general, I find Japanese people very friendly and I like travelling in Japan. Usually when going somewhere, I often grab a Latte at the nearest Starbucks (possibly a Venti with an extra shot, making it a quad-shot), and this time was no exception. Entering Starbucks with my collegue, a younger japanese women was about to exit. Being polite, we held the door open for her and waited until she had passed us… much to her surprise! We were apparently terribly wrong in doing so, since we were 1) male and even 2) (European) business-men dressed in tie, for whom you apparently give way if you’re a japanese woman. We were equally surprised of her reaction in turn, of course.

Another noticeable difference was the treatment of smokers. Sure, most places requires people to take a stroll outside to smoke, but the strange thing was that many taxis has a slight “scent” of smoke. Apparently it is permitted to smoke inside a taxi, and most even seem to have a special air-cleaning system installed to cope with the smoke. The thing most striking, though, was that at the time of my travel, the headline news in the US was the fact that Barack Obama is a smoker. And this, according to some, makes him unsuitable as a president! Now, I’m glad I’m not a smoker, but I doubt it really disqualifies anyone from being the next Mr. President…

The Emperors Palace, Tokyo

Anyway, as usual, I’m attaching a picture taken during the trip. This was actually done with my Nokia camera-phone with its 3MPix Carl Zeiss optics, and the panorama of the emperors palace has been quickly stitched in Photomerge (PS CS2). I did have my trusty Nikon D70 with me also, but not when I had the chance to make this shot, taken near the central railway station in Tokyo.