One of my western friends once asked me why the Japanese people were smiling all the time. While a Japanese friend of mine recently took his family to LA and came back wondering why the Americans always seemed pissed off about something or someone.
Here in Japan, harmony on the surface is certainly more important than anything else. It has to be preserved at all time and at all costs. And they are extremely naive and gullible to believe everyone should be nice to each other.
If you give a Japanese a glass of orange color water, he will take it and drink gratefully without any persuasion, and then thank you. If you give a Chinese the same, he will finally drink it after you spend at least 15 minutes convincing him it’s OJ. And if it’s an American, forget it, he won’t talk to you anyway, you are just a stranger on the street.
Japan is the only country in the world you would find your wallet still sitting next to the sink of the public toilet you just visited more than an hour ago. And everything would remain inside, including all the cash.
As far as I know, the only thing the Japanese police do is giving tourists directions, while the police in the west are always very busy catching serial killers, at least according to CSI.
But Japanese are also paying a dear price in order to maintain harmony on the surface. The stress has driven many people to excessive drinking and various exotic behaviors.
If you are an anthropologies running out of material to study, please do consider Japan!