• August 31, 2020
    • April 23, 2022

    It’s Over-Engineering Problems Most of the Japanese Makers Suffer

      Using a chainsaw to cut butter This is a wise saying by Barry Commoner, an American biologist, to express the inefficiency of nuclear power generation. By the way, this topic is not about energy policies; don’t worry. I interpret the point of his saying is adequacy rather than efficiency. In terms of adequacy, our production may have a problem. I think it would be quality that best features our products. Sometimes we have faced requests or advice, like “It’d be better to sacrifice quality a little bit to save costs.” Indeed, our production sometimes goes excessive: making a flush surface even in out-of-sight parts, for example. We are always too serious to be sloppy and may have to be a little more permissive. For example, the only 20-second delay of a train is subject to apology here in Japan. What is the basis of our high quality product is […]

    • August 26, 2020
    • May 16, 2022

    What Is the Design Concept of Old Temples?

    Horyuji temple in Nara, Japan is the world’s oldest wooden building The above image is Horyuji temple. Did you know it was the world’s oldest wooden building? It was built in 607 and is registered as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. Japan is a country of earthquake. It’s a harsh environment especially for wooden buildings. Actually, the average lifetime of current residential buildings is about 30 years in Japan. That is much shorter than that of US (around 100 years) and UK (around 150 years), for example. Let’s see why Horyuji temple can exceptionally exist for such a long time. How old temples survive in Japan There are mainly two reasons for that. One is its earthquake-proof structure. The joints of the building frame were designed to be flexible to reduce the shaking force of earthquakes. Many researchers were surprised by the fact that such advanced thinking and technology already existed […]

    • August 24, 2020
    • March 29, 2022

    “Made in Japan” Is a Good Buy Now

    Japanese deflation Last year, I went to Germany, China, US, India, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan. Such many business trips overseas help me see Japan more clearly. One of the biggest discoveries I recently had about Japan is “the price of things is comparably cheaper.” Let me show you the evidence. Japan is the third biggest country in GDP but ranked 23rd in the World Big Mac Price Ranking (Jan 2019). MacDonald’s Japan might make bigger efforts, but it’s true that we have many other choices for lunch only for 5 dollars here in Japan.   The huge bubble burst in 1991, and the Japanese economy completely collapsed. The era after the bubble burst was once called “Lost two decades” but now becomes “three decades”. No worries. I don’t mean to detail the causes of the long-lasting recession. It must be boring. Instead, let’s just […]

    • August 19, 2020
    • April 25, 2022

    This is How the Internet Narrows Your Mind

      The bounds of human imagination Do you think you can create an imaginary creature which is completely different from existing ones in this world? A unicorn looks like a subspecies of horse; a dragon is just a big lizard with wings. I think this question well expresses the bounds of human imagination. It’s very difficult or almost impossible for us even to imagine something we’ve never known. Today’s topic is a trap we’re likely to encounter in this information overload era. When I was a college student, it always took time to write essays because I had to struggle with many books for evidence. Now, Google can make surveillance more quickly and accurately. It’s definitely true we can easily get much more information on the internet, but here is a trap we need to watch out. The range of information we access to gets narrower because we can’t imagine […]

    • August 5, 2020
    • April 20, 2022

    Now People Pay for Social Significance

      Differentiation in value is no longer a determinant factor for survival in the market because people choose something not for its value but for its meaning. This is the point I made in the newsletter last week. Today, I want to dig this subject a little more deeper. She is the CEO of a biotechnology venture company that raises flies. They are not normal flies but thoroughbred ones quickly changing livestock excreta to fertilizer. She says enthusiastically their biotechnology will solve world food crisis and organic waste problems at a time. I believe the company is one of the top unicorn companies on which many Japanese investors have eyes.   ESG, SDGs, “How dare you,” etc. As these buzzwords well express, environmentally and socially correctness weighs more and more. If there’s no difference in value, people want to have a reason or meaning to justify payment (investment, in this […]

    • August 3, 2020
    • April 23, 2022

    How to Design Furniture, Michael Schneider #2

      This time, Michael talks about how product designs would change according to the changes in the market, especially about the recent rise of subscription and sharing businesses. Michael Schneider: I assume that subscription and sharing businesses will expand further in the furniture market. People will rent even pieces of furniture for a certain period of time. They will go back to factories for refurbishment and again be sent out to other users. This cycle could go on and on until they eventually go out of fashion or break. We will make furniture on the premise of continual refurbishment and changes in ownership. Accordingly, designers would have to focus more on efficiency in order to make production, packaging, and delivery easier. Despite such a trend, some of the current mainstream furniture will remain, patronized by people who appreciate true authentic value. Take Karl Lagerfeld for example. He had added some actual […]