The most astounding thing about the far east as I experienced it in Japan is that it is a busy place with people and cars everywhere you look, but still it is impossibly quite and calm at the same time. There is hardly any shouting on the sidewalks and beeping on the streets. Even cyclists won’t beep when passing by closely, but will rather slow down. There is an important sense of courtesy and carefulness in play here that can seem very foreign to a Westerner. Of course the culture is closely linked to the religions of the region, mostly Buddhism and Shintoism in Japan. So the feeling of quietness and serenity can be best understood in and around religious temples and shrines, which also tend to be beautiful places overall.

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