The more astute visitors to Japan make the observation that while the Japanese people in general are very polite, this does not neccesarily mean friendly.
I would later meet a Sapporo woman who would explain to me the difference in the character of the people here, in contrast to other Japanese. She said that the history of Hokkaido is filled with people who came to the north from other parts of Japan, colonizing it and somehow developing a more open mind towards outsiders. I did indeed find that the people were very friendly, as opposed to possessing the obligatory politeness. I saw these workers breaking up the slippery ice on the sidewalk and removing it, something that never happens in my own town in Japan. When this man saw me about to take a picture, I thought he would react as others before had--ignore me nervously. But upon seeing me, he shouted out, "Hello!" and struck a pose.
Far from being icy, the character of this Sapporo inhabitant was very relaxed.

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