Shinichi Kato / Marubeni Corporation Athens Office
Greece, home to a myriad of tourism resources such as ruins and the Aegean, is a country that attracts many Japanese tourists. Many readers have probably visited Greece before. Instead of information about Greek history and tourist attractions, which are covered in innumerable books, I would like to introduce some of my impressions as an expatriate about the outlook of the Greeks.
(1) The Greeks like children
Supposed that I go for a walk with my child. The majority of passing Greeks greet my child, a totally stranger to them, with a full smile. They not only pat my child on the head but also sometimes hug and kiss my child without asking me. (I am sorry to say that this is not because my child is especially adorable. In Greece, this is actually very common.) I can understand that some countries have a culture that encourages adults to hug and kiss one another. But, my child’s (and my own) astonishment was beyond all imagination when he was hugged by a Greek who was a perfect stranger for the first time. In general, the Greeks seem to like children very much, partly because of their tendencies to express feelings very openly, a particular Greek trait.
(2) “Don’t worry” temperament
This metaphor may sound disapproving, but what I want to say is that the Greeks do not pay much attention to details about time and money. The most graphic example is a checkout counter at a supermarket. Compared with the counterpart in Japan, where if there is no 1yen coin in the cash register, a casher will ask another casher to supply coins and gives a customer the correct change (also, customers are strict about receiving the correct change, even if they have to wait), a casher in Greece omits the Japanese-style process and hands a customer the small change without consulting with the customer.
Customers also do no worry about being short changed, thinking that next time it may work in their favor. In general, the Greeks tend to lack the philosophy of worrying about correct payment and the correct change. I sometimes wonder whether shops in Greece can close their books. In the long run, however, the accounts of both customers and shops will balance. This system is actually very reasonable, isn’t it?
Because the page space is too small to recite all examples of the Greek outlook and the difference in cultures between Greece and Japan, I introduced two examples of the outlook of the Greeks that attract my attention as loveable national traits. I encourage readers to observe the Greeks carefully next time they visit the country.
Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.45 (May, 2008)