The other day on our way to the dojo we were about to cross a road when we saw a man lying on his side next to an overturned bicycle a few meters down the footpath. A woman had stopped her car and was getting out, so it looked like she had hit him. We went over to see if we could help (and because of the underlying inquisitive nature all humans seem to posses). The man was very old, and was bleeding from his head. He was talking in Japanese, but it sounded pretty incoherent, and was making strange movements. The woman was trying to console him, while I took off my hoody and put it under his head, and Kotomi called an ambulance. Several other people stopped their cars and came over, some got towels and other got umbrellas to hold over the man, as it was raining. Another woman spoke to me in pretty good English, she sounded a bit panicky, so I told her to keep the old man awake until the ambulance arrived and to talk softly so not to scare him.
Kotomi told me to go to kendo, as I was supposed to come early to meet with a sensei. So I left. She came to the dojo about 15 minutes after me. Apparently the old man had been drunk and had tried to ride his bicycle home. He had fallen off about 20 meters from his house and knocked his head pretty hard. He wasn't aware that he was bleeding, and didn't know why there were people crowding around him. When someone told him an ambulance was coming he got scared and said he didn't want that in case his son found out. Maybe he wasn't supposed to be drinking?
Anyway. I've heard that rubbernecking, the act of crowding around accidents, is quite common in Japan. If there's a crash on the motorway, people will slow down and take photos as they pass. And even Kotomi's dad, when he heard there had been a house fire in Noda, walked to the site just to have a look.
But in this one incident I saw a lot of very kind and helpful Japanese people who's intentions were to help someone in need. I wonder if people would act this way in New Zealand?