The archaeology of society

Japanese people seldom observe the lines in their pavements, though they are omnipresent. Every footpath that is broad enough appears to possess such lines that are extruding. They inhibit the smooth movement of trolleys, wheelchairs and prams. From the snow or rain, they may be a hazard for the cyclists who discuss pavements. They are costly to maintain.

However, a goal is served by these lines. With their grooves that are prominently elevated they provide a way for people that are blind to traverse the city. They follow along with walking canes or could truly feel these guides using their toes.

These sidewalk guides are symbols of a society — material proof of a culture which takes small inconveniences to the majority to aid a few. What material manifestations of those values exist in Japan?

A considerate society is a society that is caring

Where to place your handbag is a dilemma for women in restaurants. Do you put it onto a chair? On the floor? Back in Japan, baskets are provided to hold shopping bags and purses.

Some flat blocks, cafes, ATMs and restaurants supply shelves on which to break wallets or handbags searching for keys or when conducting a transaction.

In transactions, a tray is utilized to transfer cash. This is more suitable than passing notes and coins to hand. It’s more easy to see what cash is proffered, therefore that there is less prospect of confusion. Ordinarily, a bin is provided for unwanted receipts.

Park bench with dining table, public gardens of the former Imperial Palace, Kyoto. Author provided

Park seats have tables included in their design.

Public telephone booths are wheel-chair friendly. The equipment is set at a height which makes it effortless for people in wheel-chairs to access.

Public lockers exist.

A considerate society is an orderly society

The word polite comes from the Latin , to gloss or make smooth. By ensuring behaviours making order is 1 way of making life smooth.

In which people ought to line up, on each side of the train door stations have arrows to indicate, therefore those alighting are not inconvenienced.

The train stops at a stage, so the train doors line up using the platform openings. The platform itself is fenced so people cannot fall onto the paths.

About the shinkansen long distance train, there’s an arrow to indicate that side of the train to alight. This prevents people and confusion’s exit in the train.

A polite society is a secure society

Toddler chair with infant, Mijajima. Author provided

It’s polite to take care of strangers’ protection.

An toddler high chair can be located in public toilets. They maintain the child secure while the adult has been currently occupied.

As in Australia, flag holders shepherd children before and after school. Near crossings out of those times, small flags are placed in Japan. Kids can carry a flag should they prefer — because they cross the street.

At times, handrails on stairs are all designed to provide support at every step.

A considerate society is a clean society

It’s polite to safeguard others. Cleanliness is 1 method of ensuring this. Bus drivers reveal their care and cleanliness by wearing white gloves. The chairs of taxis are coated in white cloth.

Bus driver in white gloves, Fukuoka. Author provided

Shelves to maintain shoes are a part of the style of houses and flats. Shoe cupboards also can be found in shrines, restaurants or temples. Taking off your shoes when you put in someone else’s space shows admiration for others’ land.

Frequently toilet seats are warmed. Functions in their control panels may incorporate a deodoriser, bidet and spray options and audio to provide solitude.

Archaeology of the modern world

Disciplines such as cultural studies and linguistics help us understand behaviours. Archaeology is. We are living in a material universe. The materials around us shape our behaviours.

Archaeology can help identify the core values of a society — these things which are so normalised that people don&rsquo. One remark from a woman on footpath guides and the handbag baskets has been:

It’s normal, so I didn’t even notice. I can see it today.

A story can be told by the absence of things. Handbag baskets are missing in cafés such as Café Barbara, Mr Donut, Aux Bacchanales and Starbucks. These cafes offer a American or European setting. Handbag baskets would be an anomaly.

Not everything is unique to Japan. South Korea has toilets that are similarly-styled. The grooved sidewalk guides for the blind have looked at Melbourne airport. Plastic sheaths to maintain dripping umbrellas are currently in New York restaurants. That the constellation of material items regarding politeness is Japanese.

What’s politeness in Japan? It helping others to maintain themselves, their nearest and dearest and their possessions clean and is caring for the safety and convenience of others, guiding people to avoid surprises. The material universe of Japan reflects and reinforces the values.

Some Japanese will get the level of maintenance and politeness . Some might fear that it may cause antagonism like the backlash against political correctness being seen throughout the planet, against those who will be the subject of care.

2016 version of the Australian five dollar note. Author provided

Does Australia have some thing which rsquo & Japan doesn;t? Yes! The five dollar notice, so it can be identified by blind people designed using a raised bump.

Can Australia learn from Japan? Certainly. Substance culture in Japan is designed to individuals’s lives. More subtly, it serves as a reminder to be conscious of the needs of others. Will help our society to be clean, secure, orderly and caring.