Sunday, September 27, 2009

Japan and China: Initial Observations

I've just arrived back in Tokyo from my week-long vacation/work offsite in Kyoto and Shaghai.

As Yom Kippur begins in a few hours here, it will take me the next few days to post pictures and reflections about my experiences in China. In the meantime, here are some initial observations. Also, I will continue to use the "Japan" tag for these posts, even though they are primarily about China, so that it will be easier in the future to identify all posts from this extended trip. This is not an imperial statement on my part. That said, I also don't mean to imply any moral equivalence, since there are obvious objective differences between the level of civil freedom (i.e. press, elections, religion, imprisonment) in the two countries.

I'm amazed at how happy I am to be back in Japan, and not just because it's been my home for the past 6 weeks. Japan and China really are two different worlds. Japan is the most ordered country I've ever been in, where no one jwalks, ever. (There's a joke that if a traffic light broke in Japan, no one would ever cross the street.) In Shanghai, while not on the scale of a truely lesser economically developed country (like in Cairo), everyone jwalks, jbikes, and even jmopeds (which is terrifying). When crossing streets, I would frequently have to wait for a Shanghai native to cross so that I could follow him or her.

Also, one of the main reasons that I did not blog while in China is that is blocked (as is youtube and Facebook). I could still, however, access them on my Blackberry, which is amusing given that I was using a Chinese mobile company's data plan. Regardless, it is amazing to me that the Chinese government continues to officially block these websites, despite dubious benefits to the regime's security, and such obvious workarounds.

Anyway, I should get ready for Yom Kippur. A G'mar Hatima Tova to everyone - may you all be inscribed in the book of life.

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