It’s often said the Japanese are the most polite people on Earth, and this is generally a Good Thing. When foreigners arrive in Japan they’re treated as okyakusan — guests — and most people they encounter here will be extremely courteous. It’s part of the Japanese national character to dislike confrontations of any kind, and I’ve seen scary boso-zoku bikers turn into shy little girls when I approached them openly, asking if I could take a picture with them. One of the archetypical character types in anime is one who always uses keigo (polite, formal Japanese), like Miyuki from Lucky Star or Koizumi from Haruhi, and fans who are studying Japanese are usually thankful for these characters, as formal Japanese is the easiest to understand. Of course, too much politeness can be a bad thing. It can serve as a barrier, making it hard to make friends, and it can cause other annoyances. A few years ago a Japanese friend of mine lived at my mother’s house for a few months, and it was very difficult for her because of his efforts to be extremely polite, listening to the TV at nearly zero volume, insisting he wasn’t hungry when she cooked dinner for him, and generally being too polite her comfort.
Japanese are usually very polite. This is usually for the best.