Japanese Culture and Traditions: The Reason Why We Can Think Outside the Box


Taiyaki in NYC

Have you ever seen the above ice cream (in the thumbnail image)? I’ve heard it’s extremely popular in NY now. When seeing the image, some Japanese people would have mixed feelings. They would be proud of the spread of Japanese culture, while feeling regret for not having had such an idea earlier. Yes, this ice cream is inspired by Taiyaki, a Japanese traditional pastry.

Taiyaki (Japanese pastry) baked on the mold. This is a standard type.
Source: http://goinjapanesque.com/taiyaki/

Taiyaki ice cream may be re-imported to Japan like a California roll

In ancient times, most of the Japanese sweets were made mainly from rice. Rice was very valuable, and so was sugar. General people couldn’t eat sweets. They were something to offer to the gods in the past. It is said pastries (made from eggs and flour) were imported from Portugal in around 1700. Funnily enough, about 300 years later, the Japanese pastry in the shape of fish goes across sea to NY! It’s not the point of this article, though.

Originally, what is inside Taiyaki is sweet red-bean paste, but it varies widely thesedays. Anything goes like chocolate, custard, etc., but mixture with ice cream is surprising. I’ve never thought of the combination because Taiyaki is generally considered to be a hot food. This is a good lesson to learn how difficult it is to think out of the box, and also a good example of “so many countries, so many customs.”

One of our products. It can be used as a coffee table and an ottoman as well.

Think out of the box

As I was writing last time, chairs (lifestyle with chairs) were imported and embedded into the Japanese culture just recently. It’s only about 150 years ago. We, therefore, may have been able to relatively think out of the box about chairs. This background may enable us to evolve our chairs in a unique way. I hope such chairs will attract you in your countries, like Taiyaki in NY.

Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.