Unless youre some sort of world-wandering video game martial artist whose only baggage is “my fists and my pride,” when you travel, your suitcase naturally travels too. And since Japan is a country that prides itself on hospitality, that means that respect and courtesy are to be given not just to travelers, but to their bags as well.
Brazillian YouTube user Nihongo Wakaranai uploaded a short video filmed from inside a plane which had just arrived at an airport in Japan. As the cabin crew thanks the passengers for their patronage and directs them to the exit, the camera is pointed out the window to where the baggage handling crew is waiting for suitcases to come down a conveyor belt, handling them with nothing but the utmost gentle delicacy.
Three men are shown on the tarmac, one of whom seems to be a supervisor by the way he directs bags to his colleagues on either side. All of the handlers are wearing spotless white gloves, swiftly but softly stacking bags and the occasional box onto carts behind them, which bear the mark of Japanese airline ANA.
Speaking of the stacks, in a further display of Japanese mentality, the handlers periodically adjust them to keep them nice and orderly, which maximizes the capacity of each cart and speeds up the total process, helping passengers get their bags more quickly.
The above video was originally posted back in February, but went viral once again this week. Whats gotten less attention, though, is a follow-up video from Nihongo Wakaranai which was taken at a Brazilian airport and shows the local baggage handlers eschewing their Japanese counterparts careful movements and instead hurling, sliding, and bouncing suitcases like they just insulted their mothers.
The video of the ANA workers has drawn online praise including:
“No wonder people always say Service at Japans airports is number 1 in the world.”
“Theyre actually acting like normal functioning human beings, not throwing the luggage like trash bags like we see in all those [other] videos.”
“You get the best service at restaurants in Japan with no expectation of getting a tip.”
“I was told that its in Japanese culture not to expect praise when you are doing your job the way you are hired to do.”
“Its usual in Japan.”
Theres a lot of truth in the last few comments. Japanese society holds that when you have a job to do, you should do it well, and has no tolerance for sloppy work simply because the position isnt lucrative or glamorous. Sterling service like that shown by the ANA baggage handlers is so commonplace in Japan that after 15-plus years of living here, my first reaction to seeing the video was honestly “Wait, why isnt that one guy doing more of the work?”
But even if its not considered above-and-beyond by Japanese standards, the display of professional pride shown in Nihongo Wakaranais video is something travelers the world over would definitely like to see more of.
Source, images: YouTube/Nihongo Wakaranai
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