I recently went on a trip to Singapore to interview with National University of Singapore and Singapore Management University. I took a really long flight from Detroit to Tokyo and then to Singapore from there.
One of the things that really struck me in Tokyo was the sudden decrease in size of a lot of things, specially, garbage cans. I then realized that having adopted the US as my home country for 5 years now has changed my perception oif the world.
US is mostly about excesses, there is too much space and hence the extravaganze, even in the size of garbage cans. Throw away more, as one can afford to. A short transit even through the Narita airport gave me insights on the frugal nature of living in Japan, a country that I always admired. With little land and limited natural resources, the country has been an economic miracle and has come a long way from its defeat in WW II. Although much of this miracle is attributed to the Marshall's plan and US's continued suppport through the seventies, the Japanese deserve a lot of credit.