Today there was a small earthquake here in Tokyo. I'm mostly used to earthquakes because I'm from LA where we also have them a few times a year. But, one thing I noticed today is that unlike LA I didn't hear a single car alarm.
In LA and probably many other parts of the U.S. anytime there is an earthquake or a particularly loud crack of thunder a bunch of car alarms will go off. Everybody used to complain about the sound of car alarms, I guess they still do to some extent but it's gotten so common that I think most people just take them for granted.
That is until you go some place that doesn't have any. I'm not saying crime is zero here in Japan. Last time I was here I had 2 bikes stolen. But, still, it reminded me of one message from Bowling for Columbine, a movie I had mixed feelings on. I didn't like the the movie because it was full of lies and exaggerations and I agree with those that believe it should have it's oscar for documentary revoked since it is arguably not a documentary by definition of it's lies. But, that doesn't mean I don't think it was well made. It was, I just think it would have been more effective minus the lies that let people dismiss it.
One of the points I kind of agreed with is it does seem like people are more afraid of each other in the states. I don't know if that's really true and I'm sure it depends on the neighborhood but it does seem that way. Yet here in Japan there is almost nowhere you could go anytime of the day or night and have to worry about being physically harmed.
Many Japanese think the USA is a very dangerous place. I used to think they were full of it and had watched too many Hollywood movies or too much news only about sensational crime. Certainly I've never been assaulted in anyway and I used to tell them that "I've lived in LA and OC most of my life and I've never ran into any violence or trouble".
But, after living somewhere where there actually is practically zero violent crime I've started to notice the difference. While I have never been assulted I have been near violence. The case where some kid was shot by a policeman because the kid was carrying a toy pistol the policeman mistook for a real one and since that time all toy guns in America are bright orange, that incident happened in my neighborhood.
When I was a kid I was in the car with my parents near Lincoln and Tustin Ave while there was a shootout going on with the police. When I lived near UCLA there was a gang shooting in Westwood. When I worked at Naughty Dog which is on the Santa Monica Promenade there was a shooting on the street below while I was at work.
I've walked around various parts of LA at night and sometimes feared for my life or at least been aware that some places might be dangerous. Stay under a lite area, don't walk into dark spots, etc.
None of that happens in Japan or so it seems. Except for maybe the area of Shinokubo there's no place I can't walk at 2am and feel safe. The only reason I might avoid a dark area is because I'm afraid of bugs.