(1)My most striking surprise was that the image of Japan as a profoundly inward place no longer applies. To someone who has lived for long periods in America and Western Europe, there is nothing particularly challenging about Japan. All the familiar landmarks of urban life are there: the same suicidal bike messengers, the same seasonal store sales, the same credit cards. To be sure, the language is tough. But in recent years, all signs in the subway and many in the streets have been printed in English as well as Japanese. (2)My next surprise discovery was the increasingly integrated immigrants, foreigners and ethnic Japanese from places like Peru and Brazil. There’s the Indian cashier in my local supermarket, always ready to help out when the hapless foreign customer’s Japanese comes up short. There’s the Filipino storeowner whose shop fits so neatly into its street in western Tokyo that it can be easily missed.