CATEGORY

culture

    • February 26, 2021
    • October 14, 2022

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: How Japan’s Overtime Problems Occur

    Karoshi, death from overwork It’s very difficult to summarize this problem briefly because it is so deep-rooted. Are you ready to gaze into abyss? The Japan government has started frequently using the word “Work style reform” since 2015. Sadly, a new girl working in the top advertising firm committed suicide due to overwork that year. Her average overtime hours were reported to exceed 100 hours a month. That is almost the same as that of mine when I worked in the Ministry of Finance. The painful sad news made many people including me think “That could be me.” Even now, about 300 deaths from overwork are reported annually. Japanese employment systems I believe this is a structural problem, stemming from the structure of employment systems in Japan. Although the structure is gradually breaking down, the basics of employment systems are still the same. It is a set of these two […]

    • February 18, 2021
    • January 30, 2023

    Good Money Sense: How to Spend Money Wisely

    We have to develop money sense It is common for me to lose (rare to make) thousands of dollars a day in the stock market. On the other hand, I sometimes give up buying cereal only because it doesn’t sell at a bargain price, though eating it almost every morning. I once bought a suit at more than 2,000 USD but hardly ever wore it. It was so scary to only think about the possibility to spill something on it. This may be a natural result for a man like me who always wear UNIQLO (synonym for cheap clothes in Japan) from head to toe at home. Spending money seems as difficult as making it. Today’s subject is “How to spend money correctly.” Let me share an interesting paper by Harvard psychologists. Buy experiences instead of things “Money can’t buy happiness. This sentiment is lovely, popular, and almost certainly wrong.” […]

    • February 5, 2021
    • December 24, 2022

    The Story of Our Founder: A Furniture Craftsman with a Frantic Passion

    Autocracy was the need of the times An autocracy may be necessary in the very first phase of a business to make it take off in the harsh market battles. Especially new comers in the market are always exposed to kill-or-be-killed situations. They don’t have time to make decisions after democratic consultation. The founder of CondeHouse was with an autocratic leadership style, and that made the company survive and thrive, I’m sure. I don’t think the leadership style was what he intended. He was a master craftsman and furniture designer of frantic passion. It is the passion that drove forward everything including himself autocratically. In the furniture industry in Japan, he is a legend. There are many anecdotes about him, but today, let me narrow down and share two of them. The dawn of the Japanese furniture industry I believe his biggest achievement is a revolution in the furniture distribution. […]

    • January 4, 2021
    • October 12, 2022

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: Tidy Up to Spark Joy!

    The scent of the Sun I was so surprised when learning that it is prohibited to hang the laundry outside in some places overseas. We, Japanese people really like to hang the laundry under the sun light. Japanese climate of high humidity is said to be the main reason of it. Recently, more washing machines come to have a drying function. Even so, most Japanese people would still prefer hanging the laundry outside, saying they like to smell the scent of the sun. I completely agree. The scent of towels and bed linen hung outside reminds me of younger days in bright summer. However, there’s one thing I can’t abide about washing. It’s folding the laundry. What is the point of it all? We have to unfold clothes to put them on. It seems irrational, meaningless, and a waste of time. To fold or not to fold My above statement […]

    • 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 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 […]

    • September 30, 2020
    • October 12, 2022

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: The Secrets of Japanese Food to Enrich Your Daily Meal

    Make life happy without money Do you believe money can’t buy you love? I may be too old to believe in such a naïve world as the Beatles sang. According to Daniel Kahneman, a genius winning a Nobel Prize in 2002, money can buy you happiness. No rush. I didn’t mean like “Hey look! There’s nothing more to life than money!” His point is nothing like that. His words continued, “as long as your annual income is less than 75,000 dollars.” He raised a serious problem for us. The more we get paid, the more likely we are to lose an ability to enjoy life. Money is not omnipotent. Let’s learn from the wisdom of our ancestors to make life happy without relation to money. Simple food on well-thought-out dishes Before the COVID pandemic, I flew around the world. The business trips taught me many unique points of Japan. Most […]

    • September 25, 2020
    • October 12, 2022

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: Why People Take Off Shoes in House in Japan?

    Even if the shoe fits, take it off inside the house When going in the house, we take off shoes almost unconsciously. It’s very natural for us, like breathing. I’ve never even thought why that is, but it seems there are many curious people trying to find out the reason.  According to them: 1. It’s because the climate of Japan is high temperature and humidity; 2. It’s because of the Japanese unique culture to divide the world into in- and out-group; 3. It’s because of the Japanese unique culture to sleep on the floor.  The first one doesn’t answer why that is peculiar to Japan. The second one sounds reasonable but is remotely related. The third one has aroused my interest most. According to the third reason, we take off shoes inside the house to keep the floor clean because we sleep on the floor. My intellectual curiosity is stimulated, and I started […]

    • September 23, 2020
    • October 25, 2022

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: You Will Want to Eat Japanese School Lunch

    Japanese good manners trained in school lunch As I wrote about an inconvenient truth of Japan in last article, I’m going to write something good today. It’s about Japanese school lunch. I happened to find that a YouTube video about Japanese school lunch is buzzing for people outside Japan. Surprisingly enough, it’s got more than 28 million views! Please do check out the video after reading this article. It’s just a part of normal daily life of Japanese school kids. It’s nothing special for us, but I learned from feedback comments for the video that viewers had found some good points about Japan. School lunch is one of the school subjects In the first place, I need to explain a little about Japanese school lunch. In most elementary and junior high schools in Japan, lunch is served fresh off each school kitchen. Of course, professional dietitians prepare the menu, which […]

    • September 21, 2020
    • October 14, 2022

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: How to Co-exist with Nature in Japan

    Necessity is the mother of geographical characteristics As you can see it in the above left image, Japan is a country of backward parking. Even speeding drivers follow the rule. Do you know why that is? Some people outside Japan may think there’s no difference between forward and backward parking. It may look like putting off trouble later or not, but actually there’s a big difference. In the first place, if it’s just a matter of personal preference, the ratio should be nearly fifty-fifty. The fact is very simple. It’s easier to park backward in a small country like Japan. I don’t explain here the details why backward parking is easier in a small area, but it is clear from the fact that forklift trucks required to turn in a small radius are rear-wheel steering. Japan is a forest country I may have been misleading you in the above paragraph. […]