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The biggest lesson I learned in Japan

Fat Mum Slim /

I recently traveled to Japan, and it was beautiful. But I took home with me one life lesson that will stay with me forever {I hope!}. Read more about it, and hopefully learn about it for you too! Click to read now!

Before last week I knew one thing for certain about Japan, and that was that I loved the food, particularly sushi. Ah, so small-minded, but I do. I also knew that it was on my bucket list as one of the places I had to visit.

Last week I got to visit Japan. With any trip I do for work, I try not to research too much before I go because I want to experience it for what it is, not for any per-conceived ideas I’ve read about it. I guess that’s a luxury that comes with having someone arrange the trip for you, because if we were heading there on a holiday… I would have researched the bejeezus out of it.

My first experience came on the plane. I sat down in my seat and wondered who my seat-mate would be. I eyed off everyone as they walked down the aisle, and wondered if they’d take the seat next to me. It turned out it was the last person to walk onto the plane; an elderly Japanese lady with a walking stick.

She was petite, and I could see her many years in the wrinkles of her skin, and the life she’d lived in her eyes too. I could also see that she was frail, not in a sickly way, but in the way that she’d lived so much of her life and had not much strength left in her.

Over the 10 hour flight I helped her put her blanket on, open up her food and snacks, put her seat back and forward, and gather her walking stick when she needed to use the bathroom. We didn’t speak, but just motioned kindly at each other when she needed me.

At the end of the flight, she reached over and cupped my hand with both her tiny, soft hands and thanked me. She held longer than normal, which helped me to realise that I’d made a difference to her. My first experience of Japan, and it’s people was beautiful.

But the biggest lesson, came on my second day…

A friend that I was traveling with ordered an ice cream, and after doing so the man behind the counter kindly asked her to stand in the shop, or just outside until she was finished.

At first I was a bit gobsmacked. I didn’t understand, but I didn’t think to ask about it. So she stood and finished it.

It wasn’t until I shared about it on Instagram that I learned the reason behind it. The Japanese like to do one thing at a time. Eating an ice cream {or any food} and walking isn’t something they’d really do. You walk when you walk, and you eat when you eat. Makes sense right?

From that moment forward I was aware of these mindfulness, and it was beautiful. The Japanese live with such intent. When you pay for something, the salesperson is focused just on you. They hand you your card with two hands, with intention and mindfulness. Generally, I’d be juggling my purse, checking out the latest photos on Instagram and trying to pay for my products at the same time. Normal, everyday juggling.

But I tried the mindfulness thing. I concentrated on doing one thing at a time. Eating when I ate. Walking when I walked. Paying when I was paying. I did things with intention and purpose, and mindfulness.

It was bliss. It was calm. It was almost relaxing.

I know that sounds simple, but it’s hard to realise what a fine art we’ve created around doing ALL THE THINGS at once. Man, I reckon I’d even pride myself on how many things I can do at one time. But maybe that’s why we’re all feeling so overwhelmed and worn out. The Japanese people have a sense of calm about them that’s contagious and beautiful.

So I took home some of that with me. Some of that wonderful mindfulness and calm. I hope it hangs around.