Saturday, March 8, 2008
My wife is coming back from Japan this evening after week long plus work related training in Tokyo. Certainly, I've been missing her and am glad that she's back home.
Japan, a country that is so fascinating. I've there few times as a tourist. Certainly, to get to know a country, you have to be there for an extended period of time, not just 'be there', but 'live there'. What I know about Japan, other than from the media: books, magazine, internet sites, movie, TV, youtube, comics, music, and products. I did know friends who are from Japan when I was back in college. I think that really make a difference if you know someone, hanged out with them, talk to them, and observe them. That could make you really see things from a broader and personal perspective.
One article in my blog can even scratch the surface of a country which has such fascinating culture. However, if people ask me what do I think about the Japanese people. I will instantly describe them as conscientious and selfless. Everything has its pros and cons, but these 2 characteristics do shine when they count.
For being conscientious, you can see that reflected from the way they work. They strike for being efficient, accurate and have low tolerance to errors. Continuous improvement is a norm. That's why even people who hate Japanese, but do have to admit that Japanese products do deserve to be paid premium for their quality and design. Their transportation are punctual and reliable, and people, regardless their career, do pay very detail attention on what they do. A cook of a noodle shop really respect the simple food that they serve. Even an old folk who clean toilet, he will still do his best on what he did, because he respects his job and his clients. Such attitude does make the Japanese very competitive is many ways. Though they may not be the most creative folks in the world, they do 'learn' and 'improve', unlike our comrades who are still in the 'copy' and 'mimic' stage of product development.
In terms of selflessness, I remember vividly and impressed the most was when I was watching the news of Kobe Earthquake in 1995 if I recall that correctly. On the TV news clip, it showed thousands of regular folks, or victims you might say, lining up to receive aids and foods from relief workers. They are kinda emotionless, and the line was orderly. A columnist was later commented in a magazine that he had reported in many natural disasters before, but none has impressed him more than how the victims in Kobe behaved. The folks in the lines are very humble, they waited in order and in polite manner. No pushing, shoveling, screaming, fighting, and they don't even yell for being request to wait for hours to get aids. They just waited and bowed after they grabbed the aids package. That really shows civility of the people. I think they really have to do with their belief that well shit happens, but you don't need to be part of it. They trust their government will come and take care of them. Every other victim are equal to you, and any chaos will not help anybody. And everybody believes that and behaved accordingly. According to that columnist, out of the whole earthquake which affect thousands of people, there was only like 2 incidents of stealing in the disaster area. Unlike what you might see in the States or other places when cops or national guards had to be deployed to provide safeguard to properties and avoid any looting or stores.
Well, as I say, every coin has two sides. I like to focus on the bright side, especially it is so shinny.