After 1 1/2 weeks in the states, a taste of Japan in the ANA airport lounge before my flight to Taipei. I ordered noodles at the noodle bar, where there is a noren curtain concealing my and my server’s faces from each other.
Irasshaimase, said my server. Kitsune soba, I ordered.
Some activity behind the counter, and she presented my noodles.
It is not common for such a noren curtain to be in such a place, but that it is there does not feel restrictive at all.
In Japan, people do not seek for personal recognition, but seek to perform their role well with a respectful distance. It is not so much self-effacement as it is an emphasis on doing a quality job, and it is refreshing.
Once I tried to strike up a conversation with a barber while getting my hair cut. After a few pleasantries, he said that he would prefer not to talk. An unusual reaction, but entirely consistent – he would simply prefer to concentrate on doing a good job cutting my hair.