Tokyo is big. I know this. And yet the first powerful gut reaction to it was – it’s a lovely, quiet, gentle town. It felt fundamentally, palpably good. In a way I had not felt about any other city of this size.

Yes there are loads of people. But they don’t seem to get in anyone’s way. Foot traffic flowed easily – taking in its stride the varied paces of shoppers, joggers, children and the elderly.

The endless buildings are all height-managed (so it appears). And probably also style-managed. There is little or severely restrained signage/branding. The new worked with the old comfortably. The result – a cityscape that is austere and restful (as well as highly functional).

Compared to the endless construction/people noise in Singapore, the traffic roar of Sydney; Tokyo sounds like a country town. It is surprisingly quiet, even the visibly busy traffic seem to have had their volume turned down somehow. People are quiet. Nobody shouts at each other or their children. It is quite amazing.

Perhaps it is not about how big you are, or how many checklist glitzy showpieces you have (as a city, as a person, as a business), but rather how each of the smallest pieces work; the intention behind how you approach each and every one of these.

Everything is superbly maintained to a level any OCD sufferer would appreciate. Everything is so clean. The subway trains are lined with polished shiny metal panels I could probably eat off.

God is in the details. the small parts are the collectibe key to the overall sum. When everything is “good” in themselves, the tiniest, seemingly insignificant pieces, all add up to a sense of togetherness, cohesiveness; a sort of collective health and wellbeing. Small things like beautifully even and consistently level walking surfaces, the politeness of the people, the efficiency of the train system, the drinkable tap water, the safe streets, the well behaved children… They all add up to something fundamentally good, something that is hard for other cities to just copy. There is a powerful lesson in differentiation here for businesses.

Let’s see what other thoughts the next nine days bring.