When reading this, I feel the same about Korea, though Koreans here are more like the Catalans. I wish Korea was more like Japan in its order, reservedness, and patience. But if I want that, I should first learn Japanese before I go.

Monna McDiarmid

She and I enter the elevator.
As always,
in Japan,
we move to the back
and slide like shoji*
into our respective spaces,
giving each other room
while saving the other
the embarrassment
of eye contact
in such a tiny space.
She then slides closer to the handrail
and places her hand over her bag.

I look around
but there is nobody else.
Just her and me
in our little pulley-boat.
Me?
I am the danger?
In my 40’s, a {mostly} sweet Canadian woman.
A Counselor.
A person who cares for others
for a living.
Seriously?

Bing.
The metal doors open.
The woman explodes
out of the elevator.
Not very Japanese, I think.

An epiphany lands lightly.

The problem with foreigners
in Japan
is that there is no way
for the Japanese to know if
(and to what extent) we:
1. know the rules
2. understand them
3. are committed…

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