What are they waiting for?

Today my wife and I went to a nicer suburb of Tokyo to see a new movie, Mr. and Mrs. Smith. It was an entertaining movie, and we both enjoyed ourselves.

However, just watching a movie in Japan one becomes aware of small cultural differences. Movie theaters in Japan are very nice and modern. Unlike the US, they are usually on several floors connected by escalators, but are otherwise very similar. Of course there is popcorn and arm rest cup holders. However, there is also beer in the concession stand and a girl selling ice cream and chocolate covered almonds in the aisles before the movie starts.

However, what has always surprised me at Japanese theaters is at the end. While in America everyone makes a rush for the exits (and the closest toilet) as soon as the movie is over, in Japan the lights stay dark and everyone patiently and politely sits through all of the credits. I understand this in comedies where you can sometimes see extra footage of the funniest parts. However, no matter how funny the movie is (or not) everyone waits in their seats. The best part though is this: after sitting through all 200 or so names for assistant assistant makeup case holders... it dawned on me. These Japanese movie goers were watching thousands of names and titles go by, and 95% of them couldn't understand a word! Some things I will never understand - it is just the way it is.

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