Aspect | Refined City

In Japan, there are various protocols to be followed; ways of doing things; interactions that no doubt originated out of common sense necessity and have been refined and woven seamlessly into the fabric of life here. In homes around the country, certain restaurants and, as in this photo, premises undergoing renovation, shoes are left at the entrance and usually replaced by slippers. Different slippers or sandals are provided for use in the toilet, others for when venturing onto the balcony.
Building sites, whether new constructions, demolitions or renovations, are first wrapped in fabric-cloaked structures, Christo-like, as a courtesy to neighbors, sparing them dust and debris. Large-scale projects make do with high fences and workers armed with hoses mitigating the effects of excavation machinery.
Restaurants hand out chilled or warm oshibori hand towels at the start of a meal — even cheaper eateries and take-out meals have disposable wet wipes for customers.
Food packaging in general is an art — and an eclogical misstep, despite aggressive recycling — as plastic packaging encloses everything from individual cookies to cooked segments of corn. At the department store food courts, more layers of packaging: plastic partitions and printed gift boxes for cookies and crackers and cakes, while synthetic ice packs are also packed with foods that may spoil, before everything is placed into a paper carry bag, which is itself protected by a plastic cover on rainy days.
Somewhat magically, on rainy days, umbrella-drying troughs and plastic sheath dispensers appear together with rain mats at the entrances to larger office towers and stores.
On any day, a store clerk will walk a customer to the door before handing over their purchases. In finer stores the clerk follows the customer out and bows formally until the customer is out of sight.
These things and more, behaviors that denote a culture of refinement, are simply accepted; it’s the way things are done here, in Japan.