When I first came to Japan 6 years ago, I was so impressed by Japanese technology and its people that I couldn’t help my self from writing about them. So, I wrote this article for my company newsletter. I think it holds more relevance now than ever before. The recent Tohoku quake along with the ensuing tsunami and further crippling of life with the radiation hazard, the Japanese have been tested beyond their limits.
But in the past, more than once the country has bounced back – from 1923 Great Kanto quake to WW II bombings to the 1995 Great Hanshin quake – and it’ll do so again.
Japan sits at the intersectionof modernity and tradition. Think Japan and it once rustles up an imagery of high-tech gadgets, bullet trains, sumo wrestlers, samurais and the sacred Mt.Fuji. But ever wondered what the Japanese are best at?
Politeness and courtesy are second nature to them – putting group interest before self-interest is a given. You may not understand the language, but you can understand the warmth, the ever-serving attitude and the individual respect for one another. Interestingly, people running huge organizations also lead a monk like existence. These qualities have put Japanese in the top economic positions of the world. Here, company positions are not intrusive, the CEO and the staff worker are on the same open desk, dress the same and eat in the same canteen. Here politics is not dirty and growth and development is a by-product.
In spite of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, the real estate prices here are one of the highest in the world, with Shinjuku leading the pack with its enormous structures and high rises. Living with earthquakes is embedded in the blood of all Japanese but this hasn’t been an impediment to its progress. It is amazing to watch how the country has taken it in its stride and made great advancements in making earthquake proof buildings with supreme disaster management systems – and zipping all along at breakneck speed without any trace of pride.
Cities of Kyoto and Nara are a testimony to the rich culture of Japanwith hordes of people paying respects at the Buddhist shrines here. The hot water springs, the calcium and omega3 fatty acid diet of the Pacific’s undersea flora and fauna, gives the Japanese not just long life spans but also makes them the healthiest people alive. Junk food and eating on the go is practically unseen. Sushi, sashimi, mizo bowl, buckwheat noodles, hand-kneaded udon and green tea are some of the interesting items on the menu. Relatively very low crime rates have made Japan one of the favorite business destinations of the world with almost all businesses operating their largest markets here.
Heaven forbid, but in the event of any uncalled for circumstance, Japan will bounce back like a rubber ball – much stronger, just because of its people. An all new Japan is taking shape – much bolder and wiser. The only thing constant here is change.
Amid the constant change, some things remain unchanged – like the summer sun rising at 4 in the morning, the courtesy and the traditional bow, the taste of sake – the rice wine, the confidence and discipline of the Shinkansen train crew, the first hybrid car and the never-say-die attitude of the people.
Now as Japan sets to re-build it self form the ruins of loss estimating to more than $16 trilion yen, doing as the Japanese do becomes a non-option.
Gambatte Japan – You can do it Mo Ikkai!