• October 30, 2020
    • October 13, 2022

    Japan Travel in the Know: Go Off the Rails to Visit Small Towns in Hokkaido!

    Country towns struggle to survive Do your cities (towns or villages) have taglines? This is not a question as an attention getter (as I often do), but I’m really curious. In Japan, with decrease in population, the number of municipalities is also decreasing. In order to survive, local governments desperately promote their municipalities. Unfortunately, contrary to their desperate efforts, some of the taglines don’t seem to work very well. They sometimes sound funny, even worse. Let me share the taglines of some municipalities to introduce the results of the officials’ hard work. Taglines of country towns Town of Picture Books As I researched, the town explains it’s because someone said the area looked like the countryside in the south of France. I know the explanation doesn’t answer to our question at all. Due to its nonsensical naming (and explanation), it successfully leaves us a big impression on the contrary. Bell-Ringing […]

    • October 27, 2020
    • October 11, 2022

    The Unbearable Lightness of Being: What Do You Work for?

    A disposable worker Today, by writing this article, I try to make a stir in the philosophy of productivity improvement. I know it’s very tiny one, though. When I decided to resign from Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDAF), the title of this article came up and stayed in my mind. After 10-month hell-like training, what awaited me was real hell. My job was just sorting and packing aircraft parts carried on a belt conveyor in a huge automated warehouse. That was so cruel treatment for young me. I was trained to keep on walking even in boots with blood inside for many hours without sleep, but the job easily took away my will to fight. It’s not only because the job was monotonous but because I couldn’t see the whole picture and felt like I was just a small replaceable part of a machine. Productivity VS human dignity In terms […]

    • October 21, 2020
    • January 1, 2023

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: No More Self-Discovery, Be Wise Frogs in the Well!

    It’s about time to stop expecting a lot for the journey of self-discovery In Japan for these 10 years or more, “the journey of self-discovery” has been very popular especially among young people. A typical pattern is: suddenly quitting a job, going to Machu Picchu (or some world famous spiritual sites, in most cases), and showing off such experiences after coming back. As you can see from the ironical tone, I’m not a big fan of such people. I think it’s too pitiful if experience is all that s/he has found as an identity factor even after going all the way to Peru. It’s about time we could break the spell of just seeking for wide experience for identity development. Experience is everything? Why the journey of self-discovery becomes popular like this? I think it is because people can easily feel like developing their identities through such experiences. Careful consideration […]

    • October 19, 2020
    • October 15, 2022

    The Background of Product Development: Products Made by Homo Sapiens

    Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari I assume many of you have already read the book, “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s full of intellectual excitement. Truth is always stranger than fiction. I can’t understand why I was bored with history class in my school days. The book has been sold more than 12 million copies in the world. It’s a must read for people full of intellectual curiosity like you, the readers of this blog. Creativity is the advantage of Homo Sapiens Homo sapiens were physically inferior to Neanderthals but won the battle for existence due to the superior ability of communication and cooperation. Before reading the book, I already knew the historical fact but didn’t know much about how our ancestors were superior in those fields. The book clearly answers the question. In short, it is an ability to […]

    • October 16, 2020
    • October 12, 2022

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: How to Make Beautiful Packaging

    Cultural difference in gifting I think many Christmas movies have this kind of scene. Kids are excited at present boxes placed under a Christmas tree. They are jumping at the boxes and eagerly tearing off the wrapping paper of their presents. I clearly remember how surprising it was when I saw such a scene for the first time. It’s a bad manner in Japan, but I later learned that people regarded it as a gesture to express a feeling of joy in Western culture. Japanese rules in gifting On the contrary, it is sometimes thought to be impolite in Japan to open up a gift in front of the gift giver, to say nothing of tearing off wrapping paper. Mind you, it’s not a religious taboo, and won’t be impolite if you ask for permission beforehand. Why is there such a big difference? How was the Japanese rule developed? As […]

    • October 14, 2020
    • October 13, 2022

    What Do You Work for? Money Is Not Worth Our Limited Time!

    Investing is more profitable than working according to Thomas Piketty Life is hard. No matter how hard we work, we will never be rich, and the gap between rich and poor is widening. This is not my personal feeling but a truth proved by a French genius, Thomas Piketty in his best-selling book, “Capital in the 21st century.” His research revealed a harsh reality—Investing is more profitable than working. Don’t jump the gun. I didn’t mean to incite a worker’s revolution. While highly expecting government to keep income gaps within acceptable limits, we need to re-define the purpose of working. I think it’s too hard to keep working only for salary, looking sideways at millionaires building up fortunes without working. What about working for a friendship? What about a friendship? Don’t you think it could be a good purpose? As it’s rare for Japanese workers, I have changed jobs a […]

    • October 12, 2020
    • September 25, 2022

    The Reality of Japanese Companies: We Are Always under Peer Pressure

    Most of your actions are not done by your free will How many times did you reach for a cup/glass to drink something today? Can you believe that you did it not by your free will but by a biological reaction? It is a well-known fact that 95% of our daily actions are unconscious biological reactions. According to John-Dylan Haynes, a neuroscientist, we decide our daily actions seven seconds before we make up our minds. The good part of this theory is we can justify ourselves in making the same mistake over again. When reading about his experiment for the first time, I was so convinced but now am getting confused. Other decision making factors still look powerful to me. Peer pressure, for example, seems to be stronger especially in Japan. Let me tell you one of them, the “last-piece-of-food rule.” The situation shown in the above image is not […]

    • October 9, 2020
    • December 7, 2022

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: A Blend of Many Cultures in Japan

    Japanese Christmas and Haloween If asked to say the best word to express the Japanese culture, I would say it should be “adaptation.” I believe we Japanese people are very good at cream-skimming in culture. Let me give you an interesting example. Do you know the percentage of the Christian population in Japan? It’s only 1 percent. Even in such a country, Christmas is a huge event. The economic effect amounts to about 6.5 billion USD! That of Halloween is also hiking up to more than 1 billion USD. As some of you may have seen it on the news, many Japanese young people dress up in disguise and go crazy in Tokyo on Halloween night these days. From beef to Wagyu Japanese people sometimes absorb and evolve foreign cultures into our owns independently. A good example is “Wagyu,” Japanese marbled beef. In Japan, eating meat had been officially prohibited […]

    • October 7, 2020
    • October 21, 2022

    Marketing Tips: Red Pill or Blue Pill? This Is Your Last Chance

    All good lies are mixed with some truths The new Prime Minister took office in Japan last month (September, 2020). He was the most unpopular candidate early this year, but now boasts a high approval rate of more than 70%. I think this is a good example to explain the power of an advertisement. It shows how easily advertisement manipulates people’s impression, in other words. One of the secrets behind his popularity is a fiction made up by advertising agents. They advertised he had been born to a poor farm family and attended university while working. Lies and truths are well mixed in this story. Truth about the Japanese Prime Minister The truth is he was not born in adversity. His family is a farmer wealthy enough to send three children to private universities. It’s definitely judged to be quite wealthy according to Japanese standards. And also, it is said […]

    • October 5, 2020
    • October 12, 2022

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: What Is Japanese Food Culture?

    Respect for nature, the core spirit of Japanese food UNESCO listed washoku (Japanese traditional cuisine) as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2013. I think many Japanese people seem to misunderstand the key point of the event. They may be bragging and saying “Sushi gets popular throughout the world!” but UNESCO is not the Michelin Guide. That’s totally different. Washoku was registered because “it is associated with an essential spirit of respect for nature that is closely related to the sustainable use of natural resources.” I think this comment of UNESCO well expresses the Japanese culture as well. Itadakimasu, showing respect for nature and natural resources We Japanese say “Itadakimasu” before meal with our hands clasped as shown in the above image. The word is often translated as “Let’s eat,” but the true meaning is completely different. That means I’m sorry for taking your life and appreciate your sacrifice. The core […]