• September 18, 2020
    • October 12, 2022

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: Can We Be Free from What Others Think?

    Can we free ourselves from other people’s values? Martin Luther said “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” The words first reminded me of wall paintings in Lascaux Cave where Cro-Magnon people tried to express themselves without expecting someone else to see. Martin Luther and Cro-Magnon people taught me that we can free ourselves from other people’s values. Having said that, I still wear neat clothes outside; so ragged ones at home that even Cro-Magnon people would be surprised to see me at home. Their lessons don’t seem to be enough for my independence in clothes choice, but the IT revolution might finally free me. We come to judge each other by online information Less and less people wear neckties. I think the CEOs of the big IT companies, such as Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, etc. might be […]

    • September 16, 2020
    • October 12, 2022

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: Big Brother Is Always Watching You in Japan

    A popular Japanese joke On a ship with people from various countries, you’re the first to notice the ship is sinking. What to say to make the people escape and jump in the water? To American people: “Jump, and you’ll be a hero!” To British people: “A true gentleman/lady would jump.” To French people: “Do not jump!” To German people: “The regulations say we must jump.” To Japanese people: “Everybody else has already jumped.” This is a very famous joke in Japan. I think it expresses one of the Japanese characteristics very well. In most junior-high and high schools, teachers tell us to behave the same as everybody else. At home, parents scold their kids, saying “No one would do something like that!” The only exception is when they beg for the same things as their friends have. If kids say “I want a new bicycle. My friend had one […]

    • September 2, 2020
    • November 3, 2022

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: What You Should Be Careful About in Kyoto

    Kyoto language is too difficult even for most of the Japanese people As you know, most Japanese people can’t speak English very well. Looking on the bright side, Japan is basically a monolingual country, and you can communicate only in Japanese anywhere in Japan. Mind you, there’s one exception: It’s Kyoto. It’s the ancient capital of Japan. No offense if you are a big fan of Kyoto, but Kyoto people are often said to be snobbish and behave like still believing Kyoto is the center of Japan. It’s just an aside, but I think it’s funny (interesting) that Kyoto and Hokkaido are always competing for the first place in the popularity ranking of Japan 47 prefectures, though their characters are completely different. Kyoto is oldest; Hokkaido is newest. For your information, Hokkaido has always defeated Kyoto and maintained the first place in the popularity ranking for these 14 years. What […]

    • August 31, 2020
    • September 21, 2022

    Over-Engineering Problems: Most of the Japanese Companies Go Too Far

    Using a chainsaw to cut butter The above words are 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, and we’re surprised to see it is reported overseas […]

    • August 19, 2020
    • October 13, 2022

    Economic Psychology Trivia: The Internet Narrows Your View

    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. You see? They are imaginary but not so creative creatures. 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. Echo chamber enhanced by the Internet 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 […]

    • July 8, 2020
    • December 6, 2022

    Japan Tips from Locals: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel

    The hotel was intact even after the Great Kanto Earthquake The Imperial Hotel was built in 1923, demolished in 1967. Only the entrance is still left as a museum in a small city in Aichi prefecture, far away from Tokyo where it was originally built. In order to make it the best hotel in Asia, the hotel company placed an order for Frank Lloyd Wright to design it. The name of the architect is one of the big factors for the building to go down in history like this, but there’s another big factor. On the very day of unveiling the hotel, the Great Kanto Earthquake hit Tokyo and claimed more than 140000 lives. Surprisingly enough, however, the hotel remained intact in such an unprecedented disaster. God in the decorations I visited the museum sometimes when I lived near the small city where the museum is located. What impressed me […]