What is etiquette? I’m not talking the balancing books on your head, or using the right fork at dinner kind. By definition etiquette means “The customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.”
Our recent trip to Japan highlighted etiquette in a profound way for me. In Japan, etiquette is everywhere. It is ingrained into their culture and way of life. For instance, on the subway I witnessed young men happily give up their seat for older commuters. In the mall I had my own experience. I found a beautiful leather change purse I decided to purchase for a friend back in the States. I took the change purse to the lady who worked there. She received the purse with both hands, bowed and took the purse away to wrap it beautifully in paper. She then came back with a receipt on a small tray. She then bowed again as to let me know that is what I am to pay. She took the money and then bowed again. returning with my change and you guessed it, another bow. Upon my exit she bowed once again and thanked me. I in return bowed and said my thanks. Seems like a lot of bowing, but it’s just their way.
I must admit, it was a breath of fresh air. It was so inspiring to see and feel how much care and thought is given to every little thing they do. The Japanese are not an “entitled” society. I never felt like they were “put out”, “inconvenienced” or in a hurry. It all comes down to etiquette. They express themselves and uphold this ideal in everything.