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    • April 5, 2021
    • June 8, 2022

    Why Japanese Sakura Is Beautiful

    The faded beauty of the Hachijo Royal Hotel Rusted steel frames, faded curtains fluttering out of broken windows, tableware scattered on the floor. Ruined factories, hotels, restaurants, etc. in deserted towns are just shown, sometimes even without any narration or subtitles. Such YouTube videos are popular in Japan. In fact, I often enjoy them. “Horror is a genre in which disgust is central as an emotion,” Malcom Turvey, a British professor of film studies, said. “A lot of monsters are designed to be explicitly or implicitly disgusting.” In that sense, our interest in ruins is completely different. Japanese people see the beauty in things decaying away. I believe that is the origin of Japanese aesthetics. Japanese way to enjoy Sakura Sakura, cherry blossom is one of the Japanese national flowers (another one is chrysanthemum, for your information). We are a kind of addicted to it. As most of you may […]

    • March 29, 2021
    • June 25, 2022

    What Created Godzilla (Nissan GT-R)

    Nostalgia for legendary cars Nissan GT-R (R32), Mercedes Benz 500E. These monster cars were born in around the same time (around 1990). When I was a teenager, my friend’s father owned them both, and they sometimes gave me a drive. I will never forget the impression I had when riding in the cars for the first time. The start-dash of GT-R was just violent, though it was not normal but souped-up to more than 700 HP. I felt like being in a vault when riding in 500E. As it may sound like nostalgia from an old-timer, I don’t think such legendary cars will never be made again. In 90’s, car makers could spend more budget on product development, and legal restrictions (crash safety, environmental conservation, etc) were much less. I know social conditions have changed a lot since then, but the root of the reason why I’m dissatisfied lies somewhere […]

    • March 12, 2021
    • April 13, 2022

    Be Idealists to Make Reality Close to Ideal

    The end of the world At the moment, I was in the middle of Tokyo and thought I was going to die, staring out a window. Street lamp posts widely swang like a metronome needle in a slow tempo. After the quake subsided, someone turned on the TV. In silence, we just uselessly watched everything was swept away by the tsunami. This is about the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake that occured exactly 10 years ago. As most of you may still remember, the real nightmare came after the quake. The melt down of the nuclear power plant (NPP) destroyed by the tsunami. Even though we somehow survived through hell with support from all over the world, the current Prime Minister, in his policy speech last October, declared to build new NPPs, to my disappointment. After the earthquake According to the latest public opinion survey made by Japan’s public broadcasting station last […]

    • March 8, 2021
    • March 29, 2022

    Speed VS Quality

    Speed and quality are not trade-off Leap before you look. Haste makes waste. These are ancient proverbs, meaning opposite to each other. It seems a speed-vs-quality issue has been long bothering us human beings. Speed, however, appears dominant nowadays because of the rapid change of the times, maybe. Mark Zuckerberg, the star of the digital era, well expressed the priority of the present-day business “Done is better than perfect.” I’m always in haste like the devil but don’t deny the spirit of painstaking and slow work. I don’t think speed and quality are necessarily trade-off concepts. Rebel against speed supremacy In short, I think it’s a matter of conditions. For example, if it’s a free meal at a five star restaurant, I could wait in a line even outside under cold weather for more than two hours, but I’m sure I couldn’t if I have to pay out of my […]

    • March 4, 2021
    • March 29, 2022

    Small Businesses in Japan

    SME are lower in productivity? In Japan, most of the small and medium enterprises (SME) like us may disappear in the near future. The SME Basic Act defines SME are companies with a capital of less than 300 million JPY or with the number of employees less than 300. According to the definition, 99.7% of the companies in Japan are categorized in SME. Soon after the change of government last year, the current prime minister organized an advisory board, and has implemented economic policies based on the advice of the board. The board members always treat SME like an enemy. They claim SME are the main cause of low productivity, though I strongly object to it. The cause and effect are reversed They always bring up a gap in wages in order to substantiate the low productivity of SME. I admit there’s a wage gap by company size, but I […]

    • March 1, 2021
    • April 13, 2022

    The Uniqueness of Japanese Chopsticks

    Japanese chopsticks are unique One of the difficulties I have to face when going abroad is table manners. Among other things, it’s difficult for me to eat without chopsticks. How can you eat a lettuce salad only with a fork? I’m always frightened, worried if lettuce leaves may flip and dressing may splatter on my shirt. Even if it’s in Asia, things are still difficult. I can’t hold noodles with Korean chopsticks, for example. By the time I finish a noodle dish in Korea, my shirt will have a psychedelic pattern. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not so bad at using chopsticks. I feel invincible when I use my chopsticks. Japanese chopsticks are different in shape, material, etc. from those used in other countries in Asia. Fingers, a spoon, or chopsticks The world can be divided into three regions by table manners: 40% of people eat by fingers; 30% by […]

    • February 26, 2021
    • March 29, 2022

    Overtime Problem in Japan

    Karoshi 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: recruiting of new graduates and lifetime […]

    • February 23, 2021
    • March 29, 2022

    How to Survive Meetings

    A hardship destined for Japanese workers You won’t read to the end of this article because the average human attention span is down to only eight seconds. It’s one second shorter than that of goldfish. I remember I read many articles mourning over the short human attention span when the survey result was released some years ago. Today, it’s not about human attention span but about meetings that I hate. I don’t mean I hate unproductive meetings. I hate them because meetings themselves are basically unproductive. As a hardship destined for workers in Japan, I’ve endured a lot of meetings. In addition, we spend a lot of time to prepare meeting materials. What is even worse, a preparatory meeting is sometimes held beforehand. There may be more poor people who have to hold a pre-preparatory meeting. Anyway, we should limit meeting time to eight seconds for productivity. Tricks to appear […]

    • February 18, 2021
    • March 29, 2022

    How to Spend Money Right

    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. 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 right.” 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.” One of the coauthors, Daniel Gilbert started the paper with such a sensational introduction, proposing the eight money principles […]

    • February 16, 2021
    • March 29, 2022

    3D Printing Technology

    Survivorship bias The headquarters of our company is in Hokkaido, the northern most area of Japan. The area is still the kingdom of brown bears. When I was a kid, my father often took me to rivers deep in the mountains to fish, always exploding firecrackers to avoid bears. He often told me “When you encounter a bear, don’t run, act dead.” It’s a kind of superstition widely believed here, but I always doubted it, saying to myself “How do we know that’s correct? We can’t listen to people who failed.” Later on, I learned it was survivorship bias. It is the reason why autobiographical books of successful people are good for nothing in most cases. Survivors survive because they happened to survive. So many things are forgotten As this may sound a little strange, everytime seeing removal building sites, I remember survivor bias. In order to enjoy commuting to […]