Ikigai Travelers

Ikigai Travelers


I grew up in Arizona and have also lived in Texas and California. In all the areas where I have lived, having a car was essential for transportation, whether for the sake of convenience or due to the unavailability of reliable public transportation. Walking on foot between places was often considered risky, potentially exposing oneself to dangers like robbery. In the regions I resided in, public transportation was often associated with challenging life circumstances, characterized by unpleasant odors, unkempt surroundings, and a lack of regard for personal space. However, I did have a positive experience with public transportation when I took a city trolley in Scottsdale, Arizona, which I found enjoyable and clean.


Taking the train was not a common practice for me, as it was neither convenient nor easily accessible from where I lived. The absence of a nearby train station further discouraged me from using this mode of transportation. Buses were the primary form of public transportation that I encountered, and my experiences with them solidified my disinterest in relying on public transit.


During my time in Japan, I decided to give public transportation another chance to see if I could appreciate it. I quickly noticed the exceptional cleanliness of the trains and the considerate behavior of passengers. People made a conscious effort to board and de-board the trains in an orderly manner, allowing those already on board to exit before new passengers took their place. The train system also included designated spots for the elderly and physically challenged individuals, and passengers refrained from taking phone calls or playing music without headphones to maintain a peaceful environment for all travelers. Additionally, the trains were regularly cleaned by staff, ensuring a pleasant and hygienic experience for commuters.


Initially, my main concern was getting lost in the intricate train system. Understanding which stop to disembark at, deciphering station names, tracking the correct platform, and confirming I was on the right train posed challenges. However, with practice and familiarity, my confidence grew. Surprisingly, I now prefer taking the train to work over driving, despite owning a car and having the convenience of driving. I have developed a preference for the train commute and feel somewhat disappointed on the rare occasions when I must rely on my car for transportation.


Recently, I observed some acquaintances from America expressing surprise at my daily routine of walking to the station or taking the train. They would inquire, “Do you need a ride?” or “Are you sure you don’t want a ride?” and offer their assistance genuinely. I believe their offers stemmed from a place of kindness and concern.


It’s intriguing to note that in Japan, seeing individuals walking or using public transportation is a common sight. I no longer assume that someone lacks a car or is facing difficulties when opting for these modes of transport. The popularity of trains in Japan means that many people choose this convenient and reliable option, even if they have access to a car.


This observation made me reflect on how my perspective on transportation has been shaped by my upbringing and past living experiences. Moving to a new country has led to a subtle shift in my thinking and attitudes. While there may not be a moral to this story, I wanted to share it to highlight the impact of cultural and social norms on our everyday choices and behaviors.


In conclusion, I hope that sharing these reflections has brought a positive perspective to your understanding. Whether it resonates with you due to similar experiences or cultural divergences you’ve encountered, I trust that it sheds light on the impact of different environments on our perceptions and behaviors. Regardless of how it resonates with you, I appreciate you taking the time to engage with my story. Safe Travels 🧳

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