12 Life-Changing Lessons Learned in Japan

The Japanese are the epitome of grace. Whether it be the simple habit of dressing well, or greeting everyone with a smile, it is all done with grace, respect and sophistication.
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Living in foreign country, or even just visiting, can be a life-changing experience. No one returns to their home country the same person as when they left. Here are some of the things I've brought back from Japan, where the people walk the talk!

1. Return favors, no matter what!

Don't just accept favors, return them too.

2. Thank people the next time you see them
2015-11-17-1447744094-5377537-ThankYou.jpg Gratisography (Ryan McGuire)

Make a point of saying "Hey, thanks for your help moving that sofa the other day." That's just nice!

3. Politeness goes beyond just saying please and thank you
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Politeness means being a little more selfless, going out of your way for others, and thinking a less about "What's in it for me?"

4. Celebrate relationships
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Giving your friend the biggest piece of cake, your mother the best seat in the restaurant, or your guest the center position in the photo, are all part of everyday life in Japan. There are numerous little ways of celebrating relationships.

5. Include everyone in the group
2015-11-17-1447744180-2383025-photo.jpg Gratisography (Ryan McGuire)

Invite everyone concerned, even if you don't like some of them. Inclusion teaches us to accept all people and promotes tolerance for those who are different from us.

6. Respect others' property
2015-11-17-1447744924-290268-property.jpg Gratisography (Ryan McGuire)

Forget "finder's keepers!" if it's not yours, don't take it. And just because something isn't chained down doesn't mean you can take it either. Shame on you!

7. Being less assertive can be a desirable trait
2015-11-17-1447744855-8417747-cat.jpg Gratisography (Ryan McGuire)

Japanese society is a gentle one. People wait in long lines without complaint. There is no road rage. There are no raised voices, no sighs, no dirty looks or rolls of the eyes. Learn to go with the flow.

8. Be a better listener
2015-11-17-1447744787-84825-dog.jpg Gratisography (Ryan McGuire)

Giving others the chance to express their opinions without someone immediately challenging them allows others to open up, and us to listen. The Japanese also value silence; intermittent pauses in conversation are meant to be appreciated.

9. Commitment is important
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If you say you'll do something, do it! Even if it's inconvenient or it's pouring down rain. Be reliable.

Avoiding tardiness not only shows respect for others but it makes everything run more reliably and efficiently too.

11. Pitch in and be a better citizen
2015-11-17-1447744612-8752100-gesture772977_1280.jpgpixabay (carloscuelllito87)

If you're at an event, help clean up when it's finished. Clean up after others even if it's not really your responsibility to do so.

12. Whatever you do, do it with grace
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The Japanese are the epitome of grace. Whether it be the simple habit of dressing well, or greeting everyone with a smile, it is all done with grace, respect and sophistication.

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