The Incredible Power of Serendipity – Highlights of an Uncommon Life

How Serendipity Shaped the Life of Author Boyé Lafayette De Mente

 This is the personal memoir of author Boyé Lafayette De Mente, the 4th of ten children born to poor parents in an isolated valley in the Ozark Hills of southeast Missouri, and raised during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

He went on to have a remarkable life which he attributes to the incredible power of serendipity.

As editor of The IMPORTER magazine in Tokyo in the late 1950s and early 1960s and as the author of numerous pioneer books on the mindset and business practices of the Chinese, Japanese and South Koreans he made  major contributions to the initial rise of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China as economic superpowers.

He played a leading role in helping to launch the career of Thunderbird School of Global Management alumnae brother Merle Hinrichs who became the largest trade magazine publisher in Asia, a major financial donor to Thunderbird and member of the board of directors.

And he launched the publishing career of Kentucky hillbilly Larry Flynt who achieved great wealth and notoriety as the publisher of HUSTLER magazine and champion of freedom of speech.  [On the day De Mente met Flynt he told his wife that he had just met a 26-year old man who had the intelligence and drive to become president of the United States by the time he was old enough to qualify for the office.]

De Mente’s encounters and relationships with such extraordinary individuals as Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, America’s ranking naval officer during World War II; Akio Morita, co-founder and leading light of what was to become the Sony empire; Toshio Karita, former protocol officer for the Imperial Family of Japan; and Daisetzu Suzuki, Japan’s leading Zen master, plus many more, were experiences he could not have even dreamed about before they happened.

His story is an example of the potential of ordinary individuals to achieve significant things when life presents opportunities and they follow up on them.

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Boyé Lafayette De Mente has been involved with Asia since the late 1940s as a member of a U.S. intelligence agency, journalist and editor. He is a graduate of Jōchi University in Tokyo, Japan and Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona, USA. In addition to books on the business practices, social behavior and languages of China, Japan, Korea and Mexico he has written extensively about the plague of male dominance and the moral collapse of the U.S. and the Western world in general. Recent books include: CHINA Understanding & Dealing with the Chinese Way of Doing Business; JAPAN Understanding & Dealing with the NEW Japanese Way of Doing Business; AMERICA’S FAMOUS HOPI INDIANS; ARIZONA’S LORDS OF THE LAND [the Navajos] and SPEAK JAPANESE TODAY – A Little Language Goes a Long Way! To see a full list of his 60-plus books go to: www.authorsonlinebookshop.com. All of his titles are available from Amazon.com.

9781469986166_frontcover9781470125837_frontcoverSPEAK JAPANESE FRONT COVER0914778838_frontcover0914778994_frontcover0914778250_frontcover9781468033298_frontcover

 

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The New Japanese Way of Doing Business!

   When the traditional Japanese way of doing business began to fail in the late 1980s, putting the brakes on the economic juggernaut that had made the country the second largest economy in the world in just 20 years following the end of World War II, Japanese businesspeople began to adopt selected Western practices. This process was speeded up in the 1990s when competition from South Korea, Taiwan and China became an even greater threat, resulting in a hybrid business system that continues to evolve today.

This book explains the rise and fall of Japan as the second largest economy in the world, describes the present-day still evolving system, including steps Japan’s business world is taking to make sure it still has a major role to play in the world economy.

While most of the new changes are taking place below the radar of the world at large they are harbingers of what the global economy is becoming and what other companies and countries must do to stay in the game. The book is available from Amazon.com in both digital [$4.95] and printed [$14.95] editions.

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Boyé Lafayette De Mente has been involved with Asia since the late 1940s as a member of a U.S. intelligence agency, journalist and editor. He is a graduate of Jōchi University in Tokyo, Japan and Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona, USA. In addition to books on the business practices, social behavior and languages of China, Japan, Korea and Mexico he has written extensively about the plague of male dominance and the moral collapse of the U.S. and the Western world in general. Recent books include: CHINA Understanding & Dealing with the Chinese Way of Doing Business; JAPAN Understanding & Dealing with the NEW Japanese Way of Doing Business; AMERICA’S FAMOUS HOPI INDIANS; ARIZONA’S LORDS OF THE LAND [the Navajos] and SPEAK JAPANESE TODAY – A Little Language Goes a Long Way! To see a full list of his 60-plus books go to: www.authorsonlinebookshop.com. All of his titles are available from Amazon.com.

9781470125837_frontcoverSPEAK JAPANESE FRONT COVER0914778250_frontcover0914778994_frontcover9781468033298_frontcover

The Pitfalls of Logic in Dealing with Foreign Cultures!

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

BEIJING–Americans endeavoring to negotiate business and political deals abroad often face a barrier that is so subtle, so unexpected, that they do not know how to deal with it.

     They typically spend an inordinate amount of time and energy in an effort to explain their goals and methods and get their foreign counterparts to understand and accept them, with little or no success.

    On these occasions the automatic response of most Americans is to assume that their counterparts don’t really understand the points they are making, and begin repeating themselves. In these repeated efforts some talk a little louder; others assume it is a language problem and attempt to break their presentations down into simpler terms. Many end up watering down their original objectives in order to get a deal.

     While the degree of the impasse and the level of frustration that develops in typical Americans various with how internationalized or Americanized their foreign counterparts have become there is almost always resistance on some level that the American side cannot fathom or readily accept.

     This situation arises from the fact that American businesspeople and diplomats pride themselves on being fact-oriented and logical in their thinking, and their presentations and negotiations are reflections of this deeply embedded mindset.

     In Asian, Hispanic and some other societies it is generally not hard facts and unadulterated logic that carry the day. It is human relations and feelings—which in the American mindset can be both irrational and shortsighted.

     For the most part, Asians, Hispanics and others are motivated by a variety of cultural obligations that must be met before they can whole heartedly accept and pursue projects presented to them.

     In fact, it is not too much of a stretch to say that Asians and Hispanics are allergic to pure American style logic. Those who do accept propositions and responsibilities that they do not like do so by rationalizing that it is better to have a bad bargain [from their viewpoint] than no bargain.

    And generally, especially in Asia, there is the unspoken intent to take advantage of foreign relationships and technology by gradually subverting them to conform to their own views and needs.

     It is therefore imperative that Americans and others who are driven by their own facts and logic to make a serious effort to discover how and why their potential partners think and behave the way they do.

    In other words, liuoji (luu-oh-jee) is Chinese logic; ronri (rone-ree) is Japanese logic; nolli (nohl-lee) is Korean logic, and so on, and they are defined by the cultures in which they developed—not the American definition of the term.

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Boyé Lafayette De Mente has been involved with Asia since the late 1940s as a member of a U.S. intelligence agency, journalist and editor. He is a graduate of Jōchi University in Tokyo, Japan and Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona, USA. In addition to books on the business practices, social behavior and languages of China, Japan, Korea and Mexico he has written extensively about the moral collapse of the U.S. along with books on his home state of Arizona. To see a full list of his books go to: www.authorsonlinebookshop.com. Recent books include: CHINA Understanding & Dealing with the Chinese Way of Doing Business; JAPAN Understanding & Dealing with the NEW Japanese Way of Doing Business; AMERICA’S FAMOUS HOPI INDIANS; ARIZONA’S LORDS OF THE LAND [the Navajos] and SPEAK JAPANESE TODAY – A Little Language Goes a Long Way!

Rooftops Sprouting Rice and Vegetables!

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

TOKYO—By all accounts, Tokyo is one of the world’s most extraordinary cities in terms of facilities and amenities that include more restaurants, more bars, more clubs, more department stores, more business centers, more subways and more commuter trains than any other city on the planet—to name just a few of the things that are more conspicuous.

 

     Now, the city has undertaken a massive program to turn the huge urban area into an oasis of rooftop and open-field gardens, and it is well underway.

 

     The urban gardens of Tokyo are not just for show. Altogether they include virtually all of the popular table vegetables as well as rice—still a major staple of the diet of most Japanese.

 

     Tokyo’s Metropolitan Government has taken the lead in promoting this greening campaign by constructing a 770-square meter garden on the rooftop of its high-rise headquarters building in Shinjuku on the west side of town.

 

     The city has launched a major program to increase the amount of green space in its 23 wards from the present 29 percent to 32 percent over the next seven years.  This green space includes forests, rivers, rice paddies and gardens on office buildings.

 

     A city ordinance requires that all new, expanded, or improved buildings in the city that have 3,000 square meters of space or more must cover at least 20 percent of their land and rooftops with plants, trees, turf or other foliage.

 

     In 2006 the famed Isetan Department Store replaced the amusement rides it had on its rooftop with a garden—which not only attracts more visitors than the amusement center did, it also brought summertime rooftop temperatures down by 18 degrees.

 

     In May of 2007 school children and young women planted a rice paddy on top of one of the signature Mori Building towers in Roppongi—known around the world as one of the city’s entertainment districts.

 

    Another feature of this phenomenon has been the opening of membership gardens in open areas of the outlying wards. These gardens that include clubhouses where members can change into their work clothes, shower, eat, drink, exchange information and socialize.

     One of the largest of these new communal gardens is located in Seijo, an upscale residential area in Setagaya Ward just 15 minutes from the core of Tokyo. The 500 square meter walled-in area, called Agris Seijo, is divided into 300 plots to accommodate members who pay annual fees of $1,120.

 

     For an additional fee, staff members of the club take care of the individual gardens of members when go on vacation, or are away on business trips, and cannot tend their gardens themselves.

 

     Suburban cities like Musashino have gotten into the act with garden centers on city property that also feature a variety of seasonal agricultural events that residents may attend free of charge.

 

     Pasona, Inc., the well-known temporary staffing company, has inaugurated a training program for people who want to get an Agri-MBA. Classes are given three times a week at the company’s headquarters building in Otemachi, one of Tokyo’s premiere business centers. The course includes a 7-day training session on a working farm.

 

     Some of the students say they are taking the course to get out of the business rat-race and make their living farming.

     This new phenomenon, known as “hobby farming,” is itself becoming a big business in Japan, and it augurs well for the growing millions of people who feel—and are!—trapped by the prevailing economic system and are yearning for a saner, simpler life.

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Boyé Lafayette De Mente has been involved with Asia since the late 1940s as a member of a U.S. intelligence agency, journalist and editor. He is a graduate of Jōchi University in Tokyo, Japan and Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona, USA. In addition to books on the business practices, social behavior and languages of China, Japan, Korea and Mexico he has written extensively about the moral collapse of the U.S. along with books on his home state of Arizona. To see a full list of his books go to: www.authorsonlinebookshop.com. Recent books include: CHINA Understanding & Dealing with the Chinese Way of Doing Business; JAPAN Understanding & Dealing with the NEW Japanese Way of Doing Business; AMERICA’S FAMOUS HOPI INDIANS; ARIZONA’S LORDS OF THE LAND [the Navajos] and SPEAK JAPANESE TODAY – A Little Language Goes a Long Way!

Remarkable Changes Add to Ambiance of Life in Japan!

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

Breakthroughs in all areas of life are rapidly remaking the texture and tone of lifestyle options in Japan—breakthroughs not only in material things but in the spirit of living; in fact, in all areas of contemporary culture.

These extraordinary changes may not be so conspicuous to the average Japanese or foreign resident, but they are nevertheless profound and provide insightful previews of what the future holds not only for the Japanese but ultimately for others as well.

Just some of the technological advances in recent months include a tiny device that strips the electrons from atoms releasing ions into the air that not only cleans the air but zaps dangerous airborne germs.

These tiny PCI [plasma-cluster ion] devices are being integrated not only in air purifiers but also into lighting fixtures, in car air-conditioning units; even in toilet seats. Plans are now afoot to include them in refrigerators, washing machines and cell phones. The PCI device can breakdown and eliminate 99.9 percent of a common strain of avian flu in ten minutes.

On the wearing apparel front, clothing manufacturers have joined the magic of chemistry to produce fabrics that have integrated heat-producing elements that help keep wearers warm—and the fabrics look and feel like ordinary clothing material. The implications of this development are staggering.

Dramatic advances in the production of windshields for automobiles now make it possible to clearly project data such as speed, inside and outside temperature, etc., onto windshields—with the first such models to appear in 2009. [The windshields are also more soundproof.]

A newly developed ingredient mixed in with concrete results in the concrete absorbing carbon dioxide rather than emitting it into the air, adding to the efforts to reduce polluting and warming gases. The same technology can also be used to make paper, cosmetics and other products, further reducing industrial pollution.

And closer to the lives of individuals, the extraordinary power of aromatics is being rediscovered in Japan, with amazing results. Japanese have known for ages that incense used for religious ceremonies and other purposes results in a chemical change in the functioning of the brain, relieving stress and producing a tranquil mood.

This aroma renaissance is visible in the proliferation of shops selling aromatic oils and gels to businesspeople in high-stress jobs. Just one example: It has been found that a few drops of Roman chamomile oil on a steamed towel placed by one’s pillow helps people fall asleep quickly and more deeply—and wake up refreshed. 

The Aroma Environment Association of Japan announces that it is now graduating and certifying some 30,000 aromatherapy specialists each year.

Years ago a distressed businessman who couldn’t sleep well discovered that getting up at 4 a.m. each morning and engaging in a variety of exercises resulted in a dramatic improvement in his mental and physical health. He went on to found a “Get up Early Society” that attracted hundreds of thousands of members.

Now, there is a growing “Laugh Your Stress Away” movement, known as “laugh yoga,” that is gaining adherents nationwide. Mental health authorities have confirmed that good, solid belly laughing dramatically reduces tension and makes one feel better all around.

When these new technologies and lifestyle activities are combined with a renewed interest among a growing number of Japanese in such traditional practices as “forest bathing,” visiting hot spring spas, meditating in Buddhist temples, and strolling in the evenings, on weekends and holidays, the future of Japan is not as gloomy as some doomsayers have been forecasting.

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Boye Lafayette De Mente is the author of 40-plus books on the business practices, culture and language of Japan. To see a synopses of his books go to BoyeDeMente.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on October 20, 2008 at 9:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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SELLING SEX IN A GLASS*

The “Water Business” in Japan

 

By Boyé Lafayette De Mente

 

TOKYO–The entertainment trades in Japan were traditionally referred as the mizu shobai (me-zoo show-by) or the “water business.” There is no agreement on how the term mizu shobai came into use, but it is fairly obvious that the extraordinary number of natural hot springs in the country and the ancient Japanese practice of bathing in them for pleasure as opposed to cleanliness led to the association of pleasure and water.

 

The term mizu shobai apparently came into use during the early decades Japan’s last shogunate dynasty (1603-1867)—a period that saw the rise of huge bathhouses that catered specifically to men seeking pleasures of the flesh, a great network of roadside inns around the country that featured both hot baths and sexual services, and the expansion of geisha districts and courtesan quarters in every city.

During this period mizu shobai referred to all of the entertainment trades, including the theater, but in time it came to be the most closely associated with the large red-light districts that flourished throughout the country, the thousands of roadside inns that provided hot baths and sake (sah-kay), and a huge number of nomiya (no-me-yah) or “drinking places.”

While organized prostitution was subject to the control of the shogunate government and the 200-plus daimyo (die-m’yoh) provincial lords in their own fiefs, it was a sanctioned enterprise that was not under a cloud of moral righteousness. The Japanese did not associate sex with sin or the marriage contract, thus sparing themselves the suffering imposed on Christian and Muslim people by their religious leaders over the millennia.

<b>THE ROLE OF ALCOHOL</b>

Drinking for ceremonial as well as recreational purposes has been an established custom in Japan since mythological times, with sake (sah-kay) having been sanctified by the gods of Shinto as well as temporal leaders.

The Japanese are now among the champion drinkers of the world, imbibing sake, beer, whiskey, vodka and other drinks with equal enthusiasm. Drinking plays a significant ritualistic role in the lives of most Japanese businessmen and many professionals. (The Japanese have traditionally believed that you could not get to really know a person until the person got drunk and ignored etiquette and role-playing.)

THE UBIQUITOUS NOMIYA/b>

The most common feature of Japan’s mizu shobai today is the hundreds of thousands of nomiya (no-me-yah) or “drinking places.”  There are several different varieties and classes of drinking establishments, including what are typically referred to as bars, lounges, nightclubs and cabarets, along with beer halls, pubs and places that specialize in sake.

There is a great deal of overlapping in the use of these terms but there are basic differences in them, including some that are prescribed by law. One of the most important of these legal differences is that, regardless of what they are called, a nomiya must be licensed as a cabaret to employ hostesses who sit with, dance with, and otherwise personally entertain patrons. Another legal factor is that a place must be licensed as a restaurant to stay open after midnight.

In cabarets, patrons are automatically assigned hostesses as soon as they come in and are seated, and are charged a hostess fee that is more or less based on time as well as on the class and standards of the individual cabaret. If a patron has a favorite hostess, he may request her for an additional fee.

Big spenders may allow more than one hostess per guest to join them at their tables or booths. They may also allow the girls to rotate, giving more girls the opportunity to earn fees. (Some places automatically rotate the hostesses in order to run up the bills of their customers; a ploy that yakuza controlled places routinely use on naive customers, including foreigners.)

Cabarets posing as night clubs generally allow patrons to choose whether or not they want the company of hostesses — a concept introduced into the mizu shobai by the founders of the first postwar night clubs in the late 1940s, most of whom were foreigners, including some Americans.

<b>JAPANESE PUBS</b>

One type of drinking establishment that originated during the Edo period (1603-1867) and was modernized in the 1970s is known as izakaya (ee-zah-kah-yah), the Japanese equivalent of an Irish pub or American tavern.

There are many izakaya chains, with Yoro no Taki (Yoe-roe no Tah-kee) being the largest (and rapidly spreading to the American West Coast). Yoro no Taki has some 1,800 branches in Japan, most of which are franchises.

Another of the izakaya chains is Tsuhachi (T’sue-hah-chee), with some 400 outlets.  The Murasaki chain, with nearly 650 outlets, combines the atmosphere of a cafe-bar with a furusato izakaya (fuu-rue-sah-toe ee-zah-kah-yah), or “hometown tavern.”

The big attraction of the izakaya are the low prices for the basic alcoholic beverages (sake, beer and shochu), good solid food and the fact that they cater to women as well as men.

 <b>”SINGING BARS”</b>

As most people know, one of the most popular types of bars in Japan today is the karaoke (kah-rah-oh-kay) bar, or bars that provide microphones, sound equipment and tape-decks for patrons who want to sing to the company of orchestra-like music. Karaoke means “empty orchestra,” and refers to the illusion that the singer is performing with a live orchestra.

Many Japanese practice singing several songs in private (often for years) so they won’t be embarrassed when they are called on to perform in public.

Singing in a karaoke bar means more to most Japanese businessmen than just having a good time. Besides relieving stress and providing personal satisfaction, such performances are seen by many as important to one’s overall character and personality.

In explaining the importance of the karaoke bars to foreign guests, Japanese businessman will often say that you must understand karaoke in order to understand the Japanese, and that if you truly want to communicate with them you must learn how to sing along with them as well as perform on your own. There is a great deal of validity to this firmly held and often expressed belief which obviously accounts for the number and popularity of such bars.

The fact that very few Westerners, especially Americans, can carry a tune much less sing decently, is a social handicap when they are in Japan visiting or on business. My advice is to learn at least one song, even if it is as simple as “Old Grey Mare” or “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.”

Notwithstanding all of the new and different kinds of drinking and carousing establishments Japan, cabarets remain the favorite of middle-aged and older men who can afford the cost because they combine drinking with the attention of very attractive young women who are either available or work very hard to give that impression.

Even though cabaret customers may not end up trysting with their favorite hostesses, they go back time and again for the sexual lift they get— and end up drinking an awful lot of alcohol. For nowhere in the world have the purveyors of male-oriented “recreation” become more skilled at “selling sex in a glass”* than the operators of Japan’s cabarets and their cadre of hostesses.

Copyright © 2008 by Boyé Lafayette De Mente

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Boyé Lafayette De Mente has been involved with Asia since the late 1940s as a member of a U.S. intelligence agency, journalist and editor. He is a graduate of Jōchi University in Tokyo, Japan and Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona, USA. In addition to books on the business practices, social behavior and languages of China, Japan, Korea and Mexico he has written extensively about the moral collapse of the U.S. along with books on his home state of Arizona. To see a full list of his books go to: www.authorsonlinebookshop.com. Recent books include: CHINA Understanding & Dealing with the Chinese Way of Doing Business; JAPAN Understanding & Dealing with the NEW Japanese Way of Doing Business; AMERICA’S FAMOUS HOPI INDIANS; ARIZONA’S LORDS OF THE LAND [the Navajos] and SPEAK JAPANESE TODAY – A Little Language Goes a Long Way!

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*The phrase “Selling Sex in a Glass” was coined in the 1970s by Larry Flynt, now the publisher of Hustler Magazine, and then the owner-operator of a chain of go-go clubs in Ohio. I served as his publishing consultant when he inaugurated the magazine… initially to promote the clubs.  I resigned the position when he decided to go porno with the magazine.