Monday, February 12, 2007

In response to a comment plus a little extra

On average- anytime I go out on my bike I see someone sweeping the ground. I even see people washing the drainage/gutter systems. It seems so strange, but then you notice that it is clean everywhere. I talked about this with people we've met at the language exchange program and they have experienced the same thing. It turns out that if you leave you bike for a while you will often find pieces of trash in the basket! I guess people want to put the trash somewhere but can't find a trashcan.

It seems that the feeling of community responsibility is a traditional part of the culture. Much like the co-op gardens/farms. We had a conversation with Shoji-san about the gardens that we see everywhere. In our minds there must be an owner and what stops people from taking the food. Well, everyone in the community owns it. There is often one person that takes more care of it for a small fee, but in general everyone maintains it. People don't steal the food because you are stealing from your community. The gardens are everywhere! It now makes sense why the vegetables are so expensive in the store- because most Japanese people don't buy them from a store.

The upsetting part of our trip is understanding that tradition is dying. Although modernization is inevitable and often desired, it seems sad to think about what the repercussions. The younger generations probably won't sweep the streets and wash the gutters because they won't want to spend the time. They are losing interest in maintaining the gardens because they won't get paid enough. And now you can buy Japanese furniture made in China with just about the same quality as the traditional Japanese furniture but sold for dirt cheap because people are getting paid pennies. So where does this leave the future generations?

This leave them buying expensive imported vegetables, dirty streets and gutters, with Japanese woodwork that wasn't made in Japan since there will no longer be Japanese woodworkers because they can't afford to support them selves with their business.


Anonymous said...

I think that this is a common theme in many countries today, this so called westernization, modenization. I find a certain degree of sadness and loss as so many of the customs, "old ways" of doing things are going and what is replacing them cannot begin to measure up to the quality, creativity, and splendor of them. Give me the "good old days"!!!!! Bonnie