Iran has always fascinated me. A rich history inherited from one of the world’s oldest civilizations, cities filled with beautiful Islamic architecture, delicious cuisine—and the people!
Okay, while my acquaintanceship with Iranians has been limited to a few Persian friends back home in America, they’ve always been some of my favorite people, which is why it’s a shame our respective countries just can’t seem to get along.
Japan, on the other hand, has maintained a favorable relationship with Iran over the years and travel to the country is perceived to be easier for the Japanese than it is for Westerns. Our own globetrotting Japanese corespondent Photographer Koach recently wrote to us about his recent travels in the country, in which he affirms my positive impression of the people with a list of ten reasons why Iranians are the kindest people in the world.
Check his report below!
Upon arriving in Iran, every Japanese backpacker I spoke with told me that the people here are incredibly welcoming and that the country is very easy to travel. One person looked at me with a dead-serious expression and said: “Iranians are halfway made of kindness.”
During my stay in the country, I soon came to realize what everyone was talking about. Below is a list of ten things I encountered that I believe attest to the kindness of Iranians.
1. About 30 people a day would approach me on the street and ask “Is there anything I can help you with?” or “Welcome to Iran!”
2. About three time a day, complete strangers would ask me where my hotel was and invite me to stay with them. I ended up taking one person up on the offer once. Talk about budget travel!
3. When caught wandering along the street while looking at a map, people would take up to 30 minutes of their own time showing me the way to my destination.
4. Like Japan, it is common courtesy in Iran to give up your seat on the subway when an elderly person gets on. What surprised me is that many Iranians would give up their seat for me because I was a tourist. When I tried to tell them I was fine standing, they would reply: “You’re a tourist, right? Thank you for coming to Iran! Let me express my gratitude! Please, sit down!”
5. While visiting the Naqsh-e Jahan Square World Heritage Site in Esfahan, more than 20 people offered to have tea or lunch together, some with their families!
6. People would frequently come up to me and ask to take a picture together.
7. People would treat me to tea or a meal for no apparent reason. Whenever I tried to pay they decline to take my money.
8. Most stores don’t try to rip off tourists.
9. Foreign tourists are instant celebrities. Whenever I was in a tourist spot, I would be surrounded by Iranians asking me to take pictures with them or exchange contact information.
10. Nearly everyone you make eye contact with on the street smiles at you and says “Hello!” in English.
I’ve visited over 40 countries in my travels, and nowhere have I encountered a people kinder than the Iranians. Never did I feel like they were trying to flatter me; their actions and words always seemed sincere.
And while some of the ten points above may seem to reflect a simple curiosity towards strangers rather than “kindness,” I constantly felt welcomed by the people of the country, which is more than a tourist could ever ask for.
Photos, Coverage: Photographer Koach
[ Read in Japanese ]