Thursday, June 20, 2013

Vegetable Stands - A Microcosm of Why Japan is Such a Great Place to Live


I'd like to show you a little something about Japan that is just a little slice of the entire picture of why Japan and Japanese society are much better off than the USA and other western nations.

This one little episode speaks volumes about the people in Japan. Of course, people in serious denial will take this as an attack on the USA. But no. I won't say anything about that. I will merely link to an article that was written by an American and posted at Zerohedge. Read this photo blog and then go read the Zerohedge article. Draw your own conclusions.

But first, some details. 

There is a small farm near my house in Setagaya. Setagaya is a ward of Tokyo. This particular farm isn't 15 minutes away from the world famous Shibuya station in Tokyo. Shibuya is the city that is famous for fashions, things to do and places to eat. It is also the home of the awesome Shibuya crossing that everyone who comes to Japan visits at least once.


More details and a little reference; Tokyo is the biggest city in the world. There are over 35 million people living in the Greater Tokyo Area. This is even more mind blowing when you realize that, according to Wikipedia: 

By the "One Metropolis 3 Prefectures" definition, Tokyo is smaller than Los Angeles County (pop 3.8 million), and almost a third smaller at 13,555.65 km² than the Combined Statistical Area of New York, at 30,671 km². and 21.9 million people.

OK. So this is a vegetable stand on the east end of Tokyo; the most densely populated and crowded city in the world.


The local farm is run by a kindly old woman (She wouldn't allow me to take her picture) who told me that her husband died ten years ago so she comes out everyday and tends the farm. She said she's up before 4 am and out on the farm by 5 am. 


By 8:30 am or so, she goes back home. Before she goes, she puts out some fresh vegetables on her stand by the street for the locals to buy.


I always buy this woman's produce. It is delicious and fresh and cheaper than the local supermarket. The quality is much better than the local supermarket too as the old woman told me she doesn't use any sorts of chemicals or insecticides.

Wait a minute!? Think about this: She goes home at about 8:30 but she puts the veggies out for people to buy before she leaves? Who runs the vegetable stand? 

...No one. She uses a honor system... People are to take the veggies they want and put the money in the box before they leave... 


There are these sorts of vegetable stands all over Japan. Oh, yes, I do know that they have these sorts of things still to this day in some places far out in the country in the United States (though few and far between)... But, this isn't somewhere out in the country. It's inside of the world's most crowded city.

I know exactly what would happen to a fruit or vegetable stand like this if it were in a suburb of Los Angeles or New York; not only would people be stealing the vegetables, they'd, of course, steal the cash box too.

This set up wouldn't last 10 minutes in Los Angeles. This woman says her family has had this for over 75 years.

That things like this are commonplace in Japan speaks volumes about the people and the country.

The sign says, "Please don't 'take' the vegetables. God is watching you. Please put the correct amount into the box."

What is her security system? Japanese people still have mutual respect for people and random crime is still not a constant and serious consideration in daily life in Japan like it is in the USA.

And that's just a fact.

Oh, and, call it what you want, "America Bashing," "Anti-Americanism?" whatever... here's what anotherAmerican wrote. Here's the article from Zerohedge. I highly recommend clicking all the links and watching the videos...

10 Disturbing Tales From The Side Streets And Dark Alleys Of America  (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-06-19/10-disturbing-tales-side-streets-and-dark-alleys-america)

Oh, and to see that these aren't unusual cases, ever been to a Chuck E. Cheese? 

Chuck E. Cheese: Hotspot of Fights? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9IIWDCQ_S8)

- OK. I can't resist....I will comment... I showed the videos from the above 2 articles to my Japanese wife (who has been to the USA many times). Her comment? "American people? Are they all on drugs? Or do they eat too much salt so their blood pressure is way to high?" I think it's both and more.... Much more! Folks, this sort of thing NEVER happens in Japan.

- For some reason, this article was written for my good friends, James, Mayumi and Enrico.

L-R: Enrico, Mayumi, James (of Jimbo's Japan)


8 comments:

Andrew Joseph said...

I can't comment on the U.S., but in the outer areas of Toronto - maybe some 20 to 30 minutes out of the city, veeggie stands are all over the place - and also run on the honor system, with few problems.
Having said that, there are those who will steal a charity box places within a convenience store - grabbing the whole $43 worth of quarters...
Lovely garden in your neighbourhood ... but I wonder... isn't that land extremely valuable (not talking spiritually here)? If that property were sold, surely she would be the equivalent of a millionaire.
Also - does she require any sort of 'seller's permit'? Are there those types of regulations in Japan? Just curious...
Across Canada we have a plethora of 'farmer's markets' on Saturday mornings...

Jimbo said...

One of my favorite things about Japan is the deep seated culture of gardening. The veggies here are always really good and inexpensive. Wife and I are just getting into gardening and I can't think of a better place to start.

Oh, thanks for the shout out. :)

Mr. Nobody said...

Hello Mike,

I have a few questions.

I agree about typical street crime, but must say something about respect. How do the Japanese have a mutual respect for people? Mutual respect for OTHER JAPANESE, yes, I agree. Although I don't see any evidence for UNIVERSAL mutual respect. Universal mutual respect, as in, for people different than them? I just don't see it. Especially when they are outside Japan.

In the picture, it appears that the box is nailed to something and is sealed in some way. Am I wrong? How is the fact that someone has a money box nailed and sealed, plus a warning, with probably only a few thousand yen dwelling inside it, really that remarkable? I will point out that up until the 1970s in the UK, many news, veg, and flower stands were unmanned, even in slums. The money would be sitting out in the open in a cigar or tea box, with which the people would actually open, and use to make change.

From what I've heard it is still that way in many other European countries, including many that are much poorer than Japan. I take it as gloating that the US has fallen even further than in the past, rather than a boast of great Japanese society, or am I wrong?

Also, if I found a town in Japan that had more than 50% foreign people, could I critique the town as representing Japanese society? Are NY & LA an accurate criticism of US society, when by many estimates, more than 50% of the residents of NY & LA are foreign born?

Also, you believe that Japan generally has a high trust society, and the US a low trust one? If so, do you believe that the US ever had a high trust society?

In my view, it appears looking at the past, that Japan and US societies, are two trains going in opposite directions. Do you agree that the general behaviour in the US in the last 70 years has declined, whilst in Japan increased?

I regret that the general behaviour in US has declined, while you seem to rejoice in it. Am I wrong?

I for one, mourn the US, since I don't see things improving any time soon. I do hope that with all of Japan's economic, and technological development, it will eventually reach the civilized behaviour of at least a middling European nation.

All the best!

mike in tokyo rogers said...

Mr. Nobody,
1) "From what I've heard it is still that way in many other European countries" Really? I haven't had a single resident of any European nation write to me tell me what you are saying is true. And I've had UK residents, Italians, Germans and Romanians do so.
2) "I take it as gloating that the US has fallen even further than in the past, rather than a boast of great Japanese society, or am I wrong?" It is what it is. Take it anyway you like. I didn't write the article on Zerohedge. I also said that people in denial would take it that way. Present company included.
3) "Also, you believe that Japan generally has a high trust society, and the US a low trust one? If so, do you believe that the US ever had a high trust society?" This is a bullshit question. Only a fool would say that "trust" in the USA isn't on the level it was just a few decades ago... In fact, you did. You wrote, "I regret that the general behaviour in US has declined."
4) (con't from your contradictory message in #3) "Do you agree that the general behaviour in the US in the last 70 years has declined, whilst in Japan increased?" No. I never said that. I have always said that Japan was at least 30 or 40 years behind the USA. There's MANY references to this: http://modernmarketingjapan.blogspot.jp/2012/04/japanese-people-going-crazy-like.html
5) (Here you go again) "I regret that the general behaviour in US has declined, while you seem to rejoice in it. Am I wrong?" No. It should be obvious that what I wrote was "judge for yourself." I rejoice that I don't live in the USA anymore. You, as I think you should, seem to regret it.
6) " I do hope that with all of Japan's economic, and technological development, it will eventually reach the civilized behaviour of at least a middling European nation." Totally pointless and useless comment. Aren't you embarrassed by this jr. high school level shit? Really? A nation that is nearly 3,000 years old need to reach the "civilized behavior" of a European Nation? Would that be any of the European NATO nations that, to this very day, bomb and kill kids in Africa or the Middle East 24/7?
Yes. Yes. We can only hope. Wake up, Mr. Nobody.

mike in tokyo rogers said...

#7) "I will point out that up until the 1970s in the UK, many news, veg, and flower stands were unmanned, even in slums." Uh, this is 2013. Jesus Christ, man. "The late 70s?!" I was a 20 year old. I'm now nearly 60. That was another world. Get out of your denial!!! I'm talking about the biggest and most crowded city in the world MORE THAN 40 years after your ridiculous comparison. Really. Your comments are idiotic if not shameful.

Anonymous said...

I agree; this is probably the number one thing in Japan that I love, and clearly you do to. That being said, I suspect that were it not for the crime/security concerns, you would find a place like New York or London far more intellectually and emotionally fulfilling than Japan. I bet you'd have a blast.

mike in tokyo rogers said...

You are absolutely correct Anonymous. London or New York blow Japan away for the creative arts. There's simply no comparision. I think Japan lost its Mojo after the bubble burst and I don't see it returning at all for a very long time. Hong Kong or Singapore are also much more exciting places... The music scene, club scene, cinema, etc. in Japan are dull.

mike in tokyo rogers said...

To Andrew Joseph,
Yes. You are right. That land is worth millions of dollars. So was the surrounding area that her family had as farmland hundreds of years ago that is, today, apartments and houses. Her family sold away all those parcels....
She, now as an old woman, knows no other life.
She lives in a huge house neat to the tiny farm. She goes out everyday to farm and grow vegetables.
It's the only life she knows.
She certainly doesn't need the money.
But when you are 70 and all your relatives have died and you lived there all your life.... What else will you do?