By Eddy Montilla
Once you come to Japan it does not take too long to feel certain sense of perfection in almost all things that Japanese people do: Hundreds of train everywhere coming and leaving at intervals of seconds rather than minutes to be on time, impeccable service at stores, restaurants and hotels. It seems like you live in another world, “a perfect world” where things and places are clean and tidy. But I learned at early age that nothing is free in life and, therefore, we have to pay a price for everything. So, what is the price that Japan pays for its perfection?
Friday: It’s ten o’clock and I am on my way home after work. A man who was drunk took his coat off despite the temperature was around four degrees and began to kick and throw punches at a lamp post. He probably made a mistake or was soundly scolded by his boss.
Saturday: It’s seven o’clock and colder than the day before. I am having a cup of coffee at a cafeteria before going to work. Two co-workers are talking near me. They are dead drunk, which means that they were drinking all night. She is around 30 and he is 15 or 20 years older than her. She said a litany of complaints about her job and other co-workers. He pretended he was listening to her when in fact his mind was in the same place as his eyes: Watching the woman’s legs. At night I had the same story with different character. A drunken woman staggered across the street. She was crying like a baby. Why did she cry? Only God knows. Why did she drink? I know that: To drown her sorrows in drink.
These three cases happened in front of my very eyes in less than 24 hours. I wonder how many similar cases occur every day here without being noticed. More than 30,000 Japanese people commit suicide every year. One out of five people take medicine or drink alcohol to get to sleep because they can’t cope with stress or depression. So, this is the price that many Japanese are paying for perfection. Is not too high? And do you know what the saddest part of this story is? They are looking for something that in fact it does not exist. Perfection does not exist: We are all imperfect people trying to be better every day. That’s all.
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