We had dinner at Tokyo’s Midtown on Christmas Day; the complex was covered in beautiful Christmas lights that included a vast field of blue and trees that had raindrop-like lights cascading down its branches. What ruined it for me, though, was the massive crowd control operation that accompanied the illuminations — instead of letting visitors enjoy the ambiance peacefully on their own time, Midtown had employed dozens of men in blue uniforms and megaphones to stand at every single street corner and doorway, shouting instructions to passersby to proceed to the garden through designated pathways. I just didn’t understand why the hell they would spend a shit ton of money putting together this elaborate Christmas spectacle and then destroy the mood with over-policing. It seemed overly paranoid and counterproductive to me.
The next day, I went to get a long-needed massage, and my masseuse asked me what I did for Christmas. When I told her I went to Midtown, she started ooh-ing and aah-ing. “I went there too! Wasn’t it so magical?” I realized then that the crowd control bureaucracy hadn’t ruined her visit at all. I think people here are used to and okay with having rules within which they can enjoy an experience; I think that’s a wonderful skill to have, to be able to block out the unpleasant stuff and enjoy the good things despite it.