5 Reasons Japan is NOT technologically advanced

Japan tech savvy

On my most recent trip to Japan I once again asked myself this question:  Is Japan really technologically advanced?

Advanced robotics.  Giant mechas.  Bullet Trains.

To much of the world, Japan is seen as the world of the future.  It’s no surprise the  country that invented the Mario Brothers and the hybrid car is known worldwide as the most high-tech.

So when I moved to Japan, I was expecting to walk into the future.  I was ready to see what life would be like in a world where technology ruled.

Instead, I felt like I stepped back in time–like, 100 years back in time.

Here are some shocking discoveries I made in Japan that proved that, maybe, it’s not so tech savvy after all.

  1. No Central Heating.  Period.
This cat has the right idea (license) image source

This cat has the right idea
(license)

Winters in Japan were cruel, especially where I lived; I mean, it was known as snow country for a reason.  We had over two meters (that’s 6.5 feet for you Americans) pile up, and we hit lows such as -15 Fahrenheit (that’s -26 C).

Those were cold, cold days.

Even more so because Japan has no central heating, and housing insulation is slim to none.

At first, I was appalled.  It wasn’t just my home, but also public institutions.  Instead of have any form of central heating, my workplace often lit gas stoves in the classroom and shut the doors to trap the heat.  Many of my students cowered by the stove heater between classes, scrambling for warmth.  My students often clutched heating pads known as ‘hokairo’ throughout the day, holding onto it for dear life.

There were times I saw my breath while teaching class.

I mean, that’s a lawsuit waiting to happen in the USA.

And it’s not just in the countryside, either.  Many schools and homes in big cities like Tokyo also don’t have proper heating to battle the brutal cold of Japan’s winters.

As I sat shivering on my tatami floor with my rice-paper-thin walls, I often wondered if I was really in the 20th century, because I’m sure the samurais from hundreds of years ago spent winter in a very similar fashion (thin walls and all).

Basically, it was freakin freezin.

2. The Name Stamp

Get out that stamp from the 6th century! Personal impression via photopin (license)

Get out that stamp from the 6th century!
Personal impression via photopin (license)

You know in those old kung fu and samurai movies, where they have a long scroll parchment full of calligraphy?  And usually the lord or emperor or somebody takes out a big red stamp and pounds it on the parchment for authority, or as a signature?

Believe it or not, Japan still uses these stamps.  All the time.

Common name stamps you can buy at the store photo credit: 印鑑 via photopin (license)

Common name stamps you can buy at the store photo credit: 印鑑 via photopin (license)

I remember the first time the delivery man came to my home in Japan:

“I’m going to need you to stamp your name here before I can give you the package.”

“You need my what?”

“Stamp.”

“Stamp?  Oh, like… my name stamp?”  (they made a name stamp especially for me, because without it I guess you can’t officially sign papers in Japan).

So I dug out my name stamp, he took out his handy-dandy red inkpad from his pocket, and I stamped his document with my seal of approval.

I used that stamp everywhere.  I used it to clock in and out of work (heaven forbid we clock in using a computer!).  I used it to sign my contract for my mobile plan.  I used it to make a bank account.

I used it everywhere–and again, I started to wonder if I was in the 20th century or not.

All foreigners are required to have a name stamp  (or hanko, in Japanese) if they plan on living in Japan long term.  Without the red stamp, life just aint gonna happen.

3. Buy Stuff Online?  What?

photo credit: E-commerce via photopin (license)

photo credit: E-commerce via photopin (license)

When I worked for the Japanese government, one of the most frequently asked questions I got was:

“Can I buy train tickets online?”

The answer is no.  You can’t buy train tickets online–and frankly, buying anything online in Japan is a hassle.

Compared to the U.S., online shopping isn’t as prevalent either.

And forget about paying bills online.  That’s far too ahead of Japan’s time.

4. Japanese People Don’t Use PCs.  Really.

This cat has probably used a computer more than the typical Japanese person photo credit: Executive via photopin (license)

This cat has probably used a computer more than the typical Japanese person
photo credit: Executive via photopin (license)

I often noticed that outside of work and school, Japanese people seldom used a computer.  In fact, they didn’t even have a proper email address.

Whenever I asked for the e-mail addresses of my Japanese friends, they would just give me the e-mail address of their cell phone service (their SMS handle is like an email address), which baffled me…

..until I realized that they don’t have an e-mail address.  At all.

Basically, Japanese people never use computers.

According to a tech study by McKinsey,

“Japanese users spend about 136 minutes a day on their PCs, ahead only of much-poorer India (64 minutes) and far behind Spain (375 minutes), Korea (359) and the US (308).”

Japanese people struggle typing on a computer keyboard because they never needed to type on one.  At my previous workplace, we had to train grown Japanese adults how to type on a keyboard–even when they were typing in their native language!

Sadly, instead of use a computer, the Japanese do everything on their mobile phone.

5.  Paper Forever

I want you to type up that report... then write it up by hand and file it! photo credit: Structured Information via photopin (license)

I want you to type up that report… then write it up by hand and file it! photo credit: Structured Information via photopin (license)

During my many moves, I lost my my Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) certificate.  I looked on the official website and tried to inquire about how to request a copy of my test results.

The only way to request a copy was by fax.  No email, no telephone, not even a mailing address.  Only fax.

I recently went to Japan and stopped at the train station to exchange my Japan Rail Pass order for the actual pass.  To do this, on top of the online form we filled out for the pass, we had to complete another three paper forms and wait in line to–you guessed it–get a paper pass.

“They have all this information in the computer already, why do we have to fill out these paper forms again?  And they just give us this flimsy paper to act as our pass?  Anybody could replicate one of these!” My friend complained as we stood in line.

“Don’t ask complicated questions like that of Japan,” I laughed.  “Giving us an online pass or not making us fill out redundant paperwork is just too efficient for this country.”

Banks, offices, schools, government… no matter where you go, Japan prefers to have everything on paper.  Japan is finding it hard to step into the modern world of digitized files and the cloud, which can be seen by their preference for paper forms and filing.

On the bright side, the Japanese obsession with paper makes for the best stationary in the world.  Visiting a Japanese stationary store, such as Ito-Ya in Tokyo, is a definite must.

The best stationary store ever

The best stationary store ever

It’s About the Small Things

A Typical Control Panel for Japanese Toilets Japanese Toilet via photopin (license)

A Typical Control Panel for Japanese Toilets Japanese Toilet via photopin (license)

“Ok, so we don’t have central heating,” my Japanese friend commented.  “But we do have heated toilets.  That makes a big difference in the winter.  And really nice, hot bathtubs.”

Japan may also not believe in email or going paperless, but the convenience stores on every block helps you mail all that useless paper or pay a bill that you should be able to pay for online.   And hey, at least you can use a bullet train to get to your freezing house and sit on a heated toilet that sprays perfume and make noises to hide those nasty farts that slip out.  It’s the little things in life.

Conveyor belt sushi.

Giant Robot Shows.

Warm drinks in the vending machine for those cold days.

It may not be the most necessary technology, but Japan shines when it comes to making the small pleasures in life even sweeter.

What tech problems do you face in your own country?  How could yours improve? 

40 thoughts on “5 Reasons Japan is NOT technologically advanced

  1. Someone says:

    I really like this post. It taught me a lot about Japan that I never knew about. It’s true that Japanese people are attached to certain old technologies. I’m sometimes that way with stuff (especially old PCs) in a sentimental way.

    Still, if they can get by without being too inefficient at work, more power to them I guess?

    • rubymary says:
      Profile photo of rubymary

      Haha uhhh they get by at work cause they put in an extra 5 hours everyday to make paper copies of everything…?? It is endearing (I love how Japan still sells and collects records) but when it comes to shit that needs to get done staying stuck in the past is frustrating.

  2. Marta says:

    When I saw the title of the post I was preparing my answer: “but think about those toilets, Mary!!”. However you already mentioned them 😀

    So in some aspects, China seems so much more advanced than Japan… at least there is central heating in the north (lucky bastards) and buying online is so convenient and fast! BTW, don’t know if you noticed it when you came but now paying with your phone (alipay or wechat wallet) is super common too!

    • rubymary says:
      Profile photo of rubymary

      Hahaha yeah the toilets are like, 50 years in the future. I really miss those amazing toilets.

      Yeah I was shocked that everyone paid with alipay or wechat wallet–we don’t even do that here in the USA! I heard Korea is also quite advanced with technology like that, while in America we just barely got chip security in our credit cards.

      Ordering things online in China was so amazing. I mean, I would order taobao packages and get them 2 hours later. SO FAST. Shipping in America takes forever, like 3-4 days.

      If only they could make it easier for non-Chinese nationals to use alipay and wechat wallet eh? Then China would be super convenient!

      • Marta says:

        It’s super mafan, but I managed to do it and use Alipay and Wechat wallet regularly. However there was a stupid new regulation a few months ago and now with Alipay I can only pay using the linked bank card, but not the balance. So I cannot receive payments from my freelance translations there anymore… (well I can, but I won’t be able to use that money unless I open an account in a different bank because “I need to verify my identity AGAIN” and my 3 bank cards from 2 different banks are not enough because REASONS. Hahaha.

  3. The International Brit says:

    During the Japanese winter, the warmest part of my apartment was the W.C. The rest of the apartment was freezing! wonderful toilet seats though 😉

    Belgium also has the same obsession with paper everything, but minus the pretty and cute stationary.

    • rubymary says:
      Profile photo of rubymary

      I get upset about the inefficiency of Japan and its unwillingness to let go of the past… but at the same time, it’s kind of endearing and charming. All the stationary for letters and the gorgeous handkerchiefs… it’s like an old world charm that I never want to go away.

      But when it comes to getting things done, I can do without the old world charm lol. No more paper filing, goodness!!

      And yes, if I ever have my own home I’m going to install a Japanese bathtub and toilet. That is all I ever want/need in a house.

  4. Betty has a Panda says:

    You got it straight to the point. They invent so many new technologies but are so far behind in many other ways. They love to make excuses about “traditions” haha 😀
    And oh how they love to praise their AWESOME heated toilet seats. Like someone spends so much time in the bathroom. I’d rather prefer a warm bedroom so my face won’t get frost boils on my face.
    When I stayed at my friend’s house last time in Japan I was surprised about her mom who ordered everything by phone. Like that is still a thing there. It would be impossible to order more than a pizza or fried noodles with a phone call in Austria. And even that we do online now. And internet and smartphones with contracts are FREAKING EXPENSIVE!

    Austria’s doing quite well with all the technical stuff. The only thing which was very very annoying was that we had to verify all his Hong Kong documents at the high court IN Hong Kong. Nothing could be done about it here in Austria 🙁

    • rubymary says:
      Profile photo of rubymary

      Haha frost boils on your face! I love it! Yeah I would much rather be heated 99% of the day instead of the 1% of the time I spend in the bathroom.

      Oh yeah cell phone service is insanely expensive in Japan… I think that’s why no one talks on the phone, cause it’s like 2.00 dollars/minute, haha.

      Awww that sucks about the documents! That just sounds like typical government bureaucracy, though.

      Even though I complain about Japan I still think it’s way more convenient than America. Can’t have it all, I guess!

  5. Monica says:

    I wholeheartedly agree! But I’d like to add a few things. I just went to Japan on vacation and after living in Korea I noticed so many more things that annoyed me. I could never find wifi and if I did, it would be limited to ten minutes or something and there was always a ton of signing up I had to do to get it. Also, I wanted to shake the hand of the only lady who ever took my credit card. Paying in cash, especially as a tourist who can only use the ATM at 7/11, was such a hassle. And I had a similar struggle with the JR when I wanted to turn in my IC card to get the deposit back. No one at any of the ticket booths had any idea who to send me to, so they just pointed in random directions. Finally, we found the tiny booth where I could return it, and told the guy there to please inform his staff how to help people find his booth. He promised he would tell them off, but my friend and I shook our heads at the inability to do anything by machine.

    • rubymary says:
      Profile photo of rubymary

      YES!! I knew I forgot something.. CASH EVERYWHERE!! God, it has to be the only developed country in the world that solely uses cash, haha. It really is like the days of the samurai!

      And YES! terrible wifi! Come on, Japan!

      Wow that sounds frustrating with the IC card. The thing with Japan, too, is that they have to do everything in a certain way otherwise their brain will blow up. If they don’t fill out the proper form or do the accurate procedure for returning your IC card, it will just topple the JR system or something, haha. It’s silly.

      I hear Korea is really on top of it digitally! I hear you can order anything online and get it delivered in 2 minutes or something, haha.

  6. Zhou says:

    Wait, what? That stuff is crazy. I now feel like China is the future, minus anything involving a bank, central heat or toilets. I exchanged some dollars yesterday and it only took 5 minutes instead of the usual hour. I was so confused that I kept asking if I was really done and could leave.

    I still can’t believe Japan still uses stamps and doesn’t really have online pay, proper email or online shopping. My mind is blow. Great post!

    • rubymary says:
      Profile photo of rubymary

      Yeah the banks are getting better in China, I was impressed. And everywhere takes unionpay–so advanced!

      And shipping is so quick in China, I’m amazed that items arrive the same day.

  7. Todd says:

    They have online pay, its called furukomi but it takes forever to set up a bank account. I think bitcoin is out, uber was in and out, now I think they are back. Lots of talk about BNB becoming legit but some sources say its stil illegal in many areas. Everything that enters Japan must be sanitized, or else its not Japanese therefore unclean and must be cast out Get a bunch of foriegners living in one area, and paranoia follows, unless its outside a base then that town adapts and morphs into a culture of its own, on Japan terms. Those military gaijin stay over there, we over here, and after hours we mingle, but then its back to our boundaries. The most international residential area of Tokyo Ive seen is Azabu, but its still very Japanese, just allot of foriengers and embassy there. Sort of feels like a cult or state controlled church sometimes. Good luck on finding anywhere that will exchange currency, unless your at the airport or big train station and city. Some banks will only do it if its a large sum.

    There is the myth that Japan is changing. Japan doesnt change, it just evolves and adapts the outside to its own terms. They will always remain insular, but adapt technology and social changes as it suites them. There will never be immigration like you see in the U.S. in Japan because to do so would upset this order. This is the religion of Japan and it works for them, to be Japanese. Everything else is inferior (like neighboring Asian countries who they feel responsible for developing) or grandly superior, like European cities etc that are just too impossible to copy or too different from Japanese These “others” evolved from Anglo Christian influences, Celtic, etc. instead of Confucious inspired beliefs and customs and the two cannot reconcile. The eras of Japanese beauty have long passed. Kamakura and Kyoto, Nara are examples of cultural enlightment, allot of it from China. Tokyo was destroyed in WW2, but rebuilt the same way it was before the war; ugly and unimaginative, but very modern Japanese.

    Thats my take away on Japan. Im interested in any rebutals, but its unlikely I will change because anything else its just fantasy thinking. I think allot of foriegners strive hard to be accepted by Japanese, because its such a refined and seemingly inviting culture, only latter realizing that invitation was fake.

    • rubymary says:
      Profile photo of rubymary

      Mmm yes, I think evolution is a good word. Japan changes very, very slowly (and who knows, maybe not at all). There is something charming about it’s unwillingness to relent into the modern world (that’s why so many of its temples and towns are intact, and traditions are so strongly recognized and practiced), yet it can be a double edged sword when it comes to efficiency and just plain catching up with the rest of the developed world.

      Anyway I think foreigners sold on Japan just haven’t lived there long enough (or in the countryside). Stay there for a few years and work for a Japanese company and you’ll feel the pain.

  8. Todd says:

    100% agree with that. Everything Japan is presented to us as a paradox; Japans charming and unwillingless to change is what makes it attractive to the uninformed people who get caught up in movies etc. Then there are other things, like tatemae and soto that get people on the hook and reeled in, then controlled.

    Gotta to commend you for getting out of it, there are some I know who still defend it, and who cant leave. “Cant”isnt really truth, they are just committed to something and are so reeled in that they believe they cant.

    But now that your on the other side, perhaps you want to come back to it? Or your like, Ill never do that again?

    • rubymary says:
      Profile photo of rubymary

      Japan is, without a doubt, charming. This is why the country is so goddamn beautiful. It’s a pain in the ass to live in, but it’s a great country to visit. For most foreigners, going to Japan is like being thrown into Wonderland.

      To be honest, on my last visit back, I really didn’t want to leave Japan (unlike China, where I thought to myself–I’m so done with this place). Now that I know what Japan is like and know what to expect (instead of having all my ideals crushed as a young 22 year old novice in the country), I think I can deal with it. I can live with the fact I’ll be a forever outsider and people will ask me if I can use chopsticks until the day I day, because at least in Japan I can have really good/cheap food, good/cheap healthcare and walk down the street without the fear of getting shot.

      I definitely couldn’t live in Tokyo, that place is so depressing. I would probably move somewhere like Takamatsu or Hiroshima, or even Kyushu (though I’ve never been before).

      I’m fed up with the US and even after 2 years I can’t get used to it. I like how open and friendly everyone is, but life here is so inconvenient and seeing the rich excel at the expense of us poor folk (like, not even a little but A LOT) is extremely frustrating. The battle to get insurance, getting around (own a car or die) and the horrific expensive of higher education (undergrad federal loans are now at 8% interest, with a bachelors costing 50k) is… RIDICULOUS! It’s just ridiculous. And don’t get me started on the crime. I’m just not meant for America, but for many reasons, unfortunately, I have to stay.

      • Todd says:

        Lots of great truth in your post. When I visit the inaka outside of Tokyo, I feel like Im on a trip to another country. The occasional othering and starring still occurs, but nature makes those things seem trivial in comparison.

        I understand your frustration with the U.S., but remember, its a big country. California is not up there on my choice to live, actually never was but around the mojave desert area used to be really nice, if you didnt run into a meth lab. Who knows what its spiralled into now.

        I think in NYC you can get around by train, and I think some cities in TX are actually thinking about inviting the Japanese to build bullet trains

        The U.S. is fundamentally different than Japan in its approach to people, development etc. I dont embrace the bad of the U.S., like racism, police brutality, crappy infrastructure, etc, and Ive endured many a Japanese critique of the U.S. on how superior Japan is. He may be right, but Im not Japanese, and Id rather agree that the U.S. has many bad points, but its my country, than sell out and bow to him. That doesnt mean accept it or apathy, like Japan does with their situation. It means recongnize it, then exercise your right as a citizen, as given to us by the constitution, to change or make it better. In Japan, or elsewhere, your an outsider, and not much you can do but endure. Its why Im a big beliver in “rights” and what I previously dismissed or ignored, I now look at much harder and with attention. I look at every import and company in the U.S. and how they got there. Look at education, laws, transport etc. We all should be aware and awake, because the alternative is to live somewhere else, where you have no rights, but as you put it, just endure for the sake of being comfortable. Nothing wrong with that, but I think we all want to belong, its part of human nature. Things in the U.S. got that way for a reason, not just by chance evolution.

  9. Cat (talkingofchinese) says:

    Yes! When we worked in Japan we were so surprised at how old school some things were! I still can’t quite get my head around how there’s amazing things there (like the epic vending machines!) yet so many things are still done on paper!

  10. Lani says:

    I’m not surprised, it is part of Asia, after all. So many places have that mixture of old and new, traditional and modern and that just seems to be the way we like it! It’s even novel to see sci-fi movies with that same mix of old and new – dsytopian (hello, steampunk) movies and stories are popular, I think, for this reason, as well.

    Now, where can I get my name stamp? 😛

    • rubymary says:
      Profile photo of rubymary

      There is something endearing about keeping the old despite leaps in technology. I feel like in America (and China) culture and beauty often get tossed aside and forgotten in order to improve cost-efficiency. It’s why the Japanese love stationary and the old record player so much… there is charm and beauty in the past.

      Still, I must say, I gotta fight for the central heating. That’s just craziness.

      Haha if you go to Japan or China you can get one made right on the spot! Makes a great souvenir 😉

          • Todd says:

            There is enough timber in Washington Oregon that probably many find it cheaper to heat with that fuei souce. Ive seen swamp coolers replace Air con in southern cali because air con doesnt work in the desert so well.

          • Lani says:

            Hahahhaa. When I lived in Oregon, I felt very cold during the winters. They also freak out when it snows because, while it does snow ocassionally, it doesn’t snow often.

            A/C? Nahhhhhh.

  11. Todd says:

    Central heating was once the default heating choice but the Japanese split type heat pumps have been taking their place throughout the U.S.

    I think its too simplistic and ethnocentric to just dimiss japans lack of progression in certian sectors as being “nostalgic” or “keeping the old”. I wish it were that easy with me but there comes a point where you have to process what your experiencing. It takes a very long time to understand Japan, and I believe allot of what seems to be “perserving traditions” is actually a fundamental different way of processing the world. Ive visited places in Japan where I had once been at 20 years ago, and nothing had changed. Its a kind of circle vs linear logic. Ive briefly read up on it, and its a new horizon I intend to explore. I think the Japanese thought, inherited from China, is fundamentally different than Western. Note; I did not promote one over the other (always need that disclaimer or else….) but rather its a real world observation.

  12. Todd says:

    I think you have to be careful when saying Japan invented allot of new technology. If you look carefully, allot of what they claim was invented was actually discovered in the U.S. and elsewhere, but the U.S. didnt spend the money to develop the technology. The Japanese gov and industry picked up where they left off and refined the technology then launched it, but they didnt invent it. The exception might be what Sony did, but allot of technology was actually invented by Japan.
    An excellent documentary on this was done many years ago called “losing the war with Japan”, and allot of it is still true today.

  13. Todd says:

    I was recently observing a vintage pencil sharpner made in Japan. It had a very “kaizen” (continuos improvement) character about it; the original rotary blade sharpner was inside, probably patented etc from abroad. Like the ones we used in U.S. schools, you know you hold the pencil while turning the handle. Well, the Japanese one “improved” on that original design but added a device that when you pull a lever, it centers the pencil, then holds it, then pulls it in, then releases it. Allot of extra moves just for a pencil sharpner but very much in the character of “Kaizen” that so many apologist praise Japan for. I found it all to be very uneccessary and annoying; the original rotary blade most likely developed abroad was just improved on. This, to me, is the character of kaizen, just like loop logic. Wait on something to be invented abroad, then improve it, but dare you develop an idea on your own; that nail gets hammered down real fast. I was also recently reading about the Jim Beam whiskey takeover by Suntory. The media was praising all the wonderful things the Japanese would bring to the new venture, like kaizen. (I dont expect this venture to last but a few years, once the employees get through the outer layer of the sweet candy like life time employment, and see how Japanese really run things, they will realize what they got themselves into and get a taste of the bitter center of the candy). For me kaizen represents everything the U.S. is not. Conformity and group centric thinking and behavior. If everybody started to copy the Japanese model of kaizen, then where would the inventions every come from?

    • rubymary says:
      Profile photo of rubymary

      I just learned about the Toyota Production System (TPS) and kaizen in class today, and you’re exactly right.

      It seems like a lot of US companies tried to copy the Toyota system, but instead of adopting the entire culture and system they merely imported the tools (such as just in time inventory etc..) and ultimately it failed. I think it all boils down to culture: the US is a cutthroat place where there are hostile takeovers, bankruptcies, layoffs, etc.. whereas in Japan, it’s about team effort and belonging. I believe the sweet spot is in between these two cultures; but as with everything, finding the right balance is difficult.

      I also think the Toyota system, at Toyota, works wonders. They did invent the Prius, after all, and compared to most other companies Toyota is actually somewhat innovative. I think their almost military approach to ‘kaizen’ is implemented so well at their company they make it thrive… but few other companies (even in Japan) can adopt their kaizen culture and make it work at 100% efficiency.

      Basically, the world is becoming more globalized and for Japan to survive, it needs to compete–and you can’t have competition with lifetime employment or group companies/subsidiaries.

      I’m sure there are studies out there, but I wonder why the US is so innovative? It’s not like our education is great or anything (well, maybe college level)… Is it the financial pressure? Survival of the fittest? It’s hard to say.

  14. Todd says:

    The US education system is by far, hands down, the best there is out there, from what Ive seen. Japanese just take pieces of what they think suites them then discard the rest. Attend any engineering related training in Japan and see for yourself. US engineering is sound. Japanese just take an exisiting technology, then “improve” on it. Yes, they do learn well the theory of thermodynamics and electrical and all that before entering university, but many latter never even use it. Check out the books they sell for the university applicants. I met a lady studying for those exams, but didnt even know what she was studying or what for, just memorizing the book for the entry exam. So they study all these things, pass the exam, do allot of goofing off in uni, then get picked up by some big corp, marry another coworker, she quits, stay at home mom, he slaves at that company for the rest of his life, overtime unpaid and the company takes all credit for any “patent”etc. I think thats where part of your answer is at (why is America different), in that whole mix.

    I cant remember while living and working in the U.S. anybody taking a Japanese or Euro product and reverse engineering it; its just not something we do, at least in my generation. Even myself, when Im making something for a need that I or somebody else might have, I always come up with an original idea and start from there. This really isnt encouraged in Japan; the group takes priority . Ive seen Japanese buy and distribute a US product, latter change it to make it “Japanese” then claim it to be superior. Id hardly call that innovation.

    You can never say never, but I cant ever imagine myself working for a Japanese company in the U.S. I think what they are doing over there is just exporting their culture to the companies in the U.S., more absolute thinking at work. No need to integrate or adapt with the locals People have told me that none of the management are Americans and the Japanese management has little to do with the people on the floor. Sounds about right. Could expand on this more, but not enought time here )

  15. Todd says:

    ” It’s not like our education is great or anything (well, maybe college level ”

    Forgot got to comment on this; I have to disagree with your statement, but not due to
    my own patriotism or nationalism, but simply due to fact. The high schools I attended in the U.S. would easily pass for some college campuses in Japan. We had every program and elective conceivable, and the teachers were awesome. Full bay auto shops, agri welding, large pools, courts everything. And this was years ago. Have you been inside a Japan high school or junior college? Looks like a military baracks. All dress and look the same and are miserable together. Then they have jukko to look forward to after school, where they really “learn” in order to pass some exam to get into a college so they can get picked up by one of the big companies. What a total crock of a system that crushes learning and imagination. Some of the schools outside of the big cities are actually nice, but the same rote unimaginative system is enforced.

    Now, yes, the U.S. has crappy schools in zones where the tax base is low but at least they made an effort to bus those kids out of there.

    • rubymary says:
      Profile photo of rubymary

      Well, I think Japanese schools are greaty until high school–then everything goes to shit.

      And while American schools aren’t TERRIBLE, it seems like Europeans are overall more well-rounded and better educated (Finland and Denmark always score very highly on education). So in comparison to Japan maybe the US is better, but compared to the rest of the world we could improve somewhat.

      Also, I was quite happy with my education in Utah, but I noticed schools in big cities SUCK. Seeing the school systems in LA was shocking to me. In big US cities, you need to have $$ to get a good education, otherwise you’re in Compton with run down, underpaid teachers who are unhappy, not to mention classmates who are on drugs or in gangs tec.. Just not a pretty place. Compared to that, Japan doesn’t look so bad.

      So, depends on perspective. I WILL say that the US wins for innovation, we continually innovate while the rest of the world doesn’t. I contribute this to our dog-eat-dog society where we have to compete to survive.

  16. Todd says:

    True, unless you work for the gov many in the US will throw you under the bus but contrast that to a Japanese workplace where people just stay in some kind of mental slumber for decades, are cuddled by some sempai who owns them, a kind of sick dependancy but its stablity, a cornerstone of Japanese culture. They cant be fired and are zombies for life, but the company gets a huge return on their investment; dedicated employees who contribute overtime for free ). Guess it works for them but that would never work in the US, unless, as I posted you work for the gov.

    The inner city is a mess but in some places they are trying to change that up, and the property value where the ghetto used to be is going up. I think Obama was trying to reverse up that dynamic, that is bring the poor out of the inner city and to the burbs then bus them in to work, this is something I heard, dont quote me

    The high schools I attended in the US would make Japans HS look like a college campus. Every elective and facility you could imagine. Compare that to Japan where the public schools have no AC or heat. Horrible, rote method hard core typical Japanese drive the nail down culture. Open the windows to make them suffer because you learn more when you suffer. No hair color and extreme conformity. Only escape is to go to a private school.

    No heat in the school? In the U.S. and elsewhere thats inhumane.

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