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The New Japanese Way of Doing Business!

THE NEW JAPANESE WAY OF DOING BUSINESS

CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES!

Dramatic changes have occurred in Japan’s way of doing business since the late 1980s and early 1990s when its economic juggernaut was literally stopped in its track by the rapid rise of global competition and the fact that the Japanese real estate and financial industries copied American practices that were doomed to failure.

    A new book by author Boyé Lafayette De Mente, JAPAN – Understanding & Dealing with the New Japanese Way of Doing Business, details how the Japanese way of doing business has morphed into a hybrid of traditional culture-based elements and Western practices, and provides insights in how to deal effectively with this new reality.

Known for his pioneer business related books on Japan—going back to Japanese Etiquette & Ethics in Business, published in 1959, and How to Do Business in Japan, published in 1962—De Mente’s new book provides foreign companies with guidelines for competing with the Japanese on the domestic as well as the international front.

“Some of the traditional elements of Japanese business that were the foundation of the country’s astounding rise from the devastation of World Word II to become the world’s second largest economy between 1952 and 1970 have not changed.

“But other aspects that reflect both Western practices and Japan’s resent-day high-tech-based social culture present new challenges as well as opportunities, De Mente says.

He adds that the changes Japanese businesses have made and are ongoing ensure that they will continue to play a major role in the world’s economy.

His books are available in digital and printed formats from Amazon.com, and from the Barnes & Noble bookstore chain as digital Nook books.

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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.

JAPAN book front cover  0914778838_frontcoverSPEAK JAPANESE FRONT COVER0914778293_frontcover

 

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

 

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

AMAZING JAPAN! – Attractions and Pleasures

Aspects of Japan’s Unique Culture

Most Westerners who visit Japan for no more than three or four days are forever changed by the experience because of the extraordinary  sensual and visual attractions and because of the unique Japanese behavior and lifestyle.

This book identifies and describes the primary factors that make Japan such a fascinating and seductive place, including the amazing number and variety of venues that are designed specifically to pleasure the body, mind and spirit.

Not surprising to old Asia hands, the children, the girls and the young women are major contributors to the appeal of Japan….a factor I have addressed in WHY ORIENTAL GIRLS ATTRACT WESTERN MEN!

There are so many aspects of Japan that never fail to intrigue foreigners that they cannot all be adequately described….they have to be experienced!

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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.

SPEAK JAPANESE FRONT COVER0914778994_frontcover

 

The Importance of Dealing with Japan’s Dynamic Diligence Factor!

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

 TOKYO—In 1953 as a fledgling journalist in Tokyo I went to the dean of foreign correspondents in Japan [the Far Eastern Bureau Chief for a major London newspaper] and asked him if he thought it would be a good idea for me to stay in Japan—if there would be opportunities for me to build a worthwhile career, or if I should go home.

     His instant response was: “Japan is never going to amount to anything! Go home!”

     Just ten years later Japan was already on the verge of becoming the second largest economy in the world…and fortunately, I had not taken the famous correspondent’s advice.

     There are several reasons why Japan was able to recover so rapidly from the destruction of World War II. Two of these reasons are especially outstanding. First was the hundreds of millions of dollars pumped into the Japanese economy by the Allied Forces during the Occupation of the country from September 1945 to the spring of1952. And second was the fact that the United States bought hundreds of millions of dollars worth of supplies from Japan during the Korean War [1950-1953].

     An obvious third factor in why Japan was able to become an economic superpower by 1970 was the fact that from 1948 on Japanese manufacturers [that had sprouted up like weeds following the end of WW II] were inundated by American importers who began flocking into the country by the thousands seeking consumer goods of all kinds at cheaper prices, giving this mass of new Japanese companies total access to the American market. [By the mid-1950s Sears had 65 buyers permanently stationed in Tokyo alone.]

     But undergirding all of the effort that went into the creation of the world’s most efficient export industry were a litany of national characteristics that made the Japanese both unique and formidable competitors.

     One of the most important of these deeply ingrained cultural characteristics is subsumed in the word monozukuri (moe-no-zoo-kuu-ree)…a word that is so new it does not appear in most [if any!] dictionaries of Japanese words.

     The applied meaning of monozukuri evolved from the meanings of its parts, including original thinking, the application of extraordinary efforts to achieve goals, craftsmanship, and diligence—all of which have traditionally been readily discernable in the character of the Japanese.

     While all of these traits have made vital contributions to the economic success of the Japanese the one that is the most visible—at least to foreigners—is their built-in diligence.

     For me, this remarkable trait was underscored in the 1970s when I was at a New York hotel for a business meeting that included a number of Japanese managers. I came down to the hotel restaurant before 6 a.m. for an early breakfast and found myself standing in line behind the Japanese.

     I commented in Japanese to the man next to me that he and his co-workers were starting the day early. He replied with great emphasis and without smiling: Kimben na Nihonjin desu kara! [“Because we are diligent Japanese!”]

     The level of diligence in Japan is far higher than in most countries, and it expresses itself in everything they do…from the finish and the packaging of the products they make to the meticulous attention they pay to forging and maintaining their business contacts.

     Many of the failures of American companies and U.S.-made products in Japan have been because they did not live up to the diligence standards of the Japanese.

Monozukuri is a concept that must be taken to heart by any company wanting to succeed in the Japanese market.

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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!

 

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!

Playing the Geisha Game in Present-Day Japan!

  Boyé Lafayette De Mente

 TOKYO–During the 1600s in Edo (Tokyo) a special class of women entertainers who were skilled at playing the shamisen, singing, and dancing gradually came to be known as geisha (gay-ee-shah). Famous courtesans in Japan’s numerous red-light districts regularly hired geisha to help them entertain their high profile customers.

 

   The geisha also performed for private parties in inns and restaurants. As the decades of the Edo era (1603-1868) passed, their training became more formalized and strict, and the profession grew in stature.

 

   Although geisha did not work as prostitutes it became customary for them to form intimate liaisons with affluent men who patronized them regularly and treated them more or less as mistresses.

 

     With the deterioration of the licensed gay quarters following the downfall of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1867, the social status of prostitutes began to drop and that of the geisha to rise. Their training was expanded to include lessons in etiquette, grace, flower arranging, the tea ceremony, and in how to be stimulating conversationalists, making them among the most accomplished women in the country.

 

   Within a few decades the position of prostitutes and geisha had completed reversed. Geisha were the most elite of public women, and prostitutes the lowest. Wealthy businessmen and high-ranking politicians began to vie with each other to make the most famous geisha their mistresses.

 

   It was, in fact, common for men of wealth and power to marry their geisha mistresses, with one notable example being Hirobumi Ito (1841-1909), who played a key role in the overthrow of the Tokugawa Shogunate in the 1860s, became the chief architect of Japan’s first constitution, and served as prime minister four times.

 

   Since Japanese wives did not participate directly or publicly with men in business or in politics, and therefore could not act as hostesses for their husbands or other men, geisha came to perform this valuable function, dressing up meetings and making sure things ran smoothly.

 

     As late as the 1950s, Tokyo alone had over a dozen large so-called geisha districts, which consisted of clusters of ryotei (rio-tay) or inn-restaurantsthat called in geisha to serve their customers. The services of the geisha were so costly that only wealthy businessmen and high-ranking politicians and government bureaucrats could afford to patronize them.

 

   Then the rapid transformation of Japan into an economic super power from the 1950s to the 1970s saw the equally rapid rise of thousands of cabarets and night clubs that featured hostesses as drinking, dancing and conversational companions, with fees far below what geisha inns charged.

 

   The more attractive the hostesses, and the more skilled they were in entertaining men, the more they could earn. This naturally attracted some of the most beautiful and socially talented young women in the country. Hundreds if not thousands of these remarkable women became millionaires. Like the geisha of an early day, many of them married well. One married the then president of Indonesia, Sukarno, and became an international celebrity.

 

     The reign of the huge businessmen-oriented hostess cabarets and nightclubs ended in the late 1980s when Japan’s economic bubble begin to deflate. The geisha survived the economic fallout but they remained on the fringe of Japan’s entertainment world. In Kyoto, in particular, there are well-known geisha districts, with many of the women in the trade being third and fourth generation geisha.

 

   In the evenings in Tokyo’s Akasaka district, which borders the country’s government center, one can still see geisha being delivered to ryotei and ryokan in rickshaws pulled by men wearing traditional Edo age garb.

   Most geisha now voluntarily enter the profession when they are in their late teens. Their training is less formal and less comprehensive—often as little as a few weeks, as opposed to years in earlier times.

 

     But today’s instant geisha are just as fascinating, just as entertaining, if not more so, than their predecessors. And they are almost always more attractive because today their popularity and success is more dependent upon their looks.

 

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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!

In Japan Good Design is Everywhere!

Boyé Lafayette De Mente

 

TOKYO—In the 1960s and 70s a number of Japan specialists and media pundits predicted that Japan would become the world’s largest economy—bypassing and overshadowing the United States.

 

  Those predictions were naïve to say the least, but Japan has in fact become a world leader in a number of key areas that include technological advances in several scientific fields, particularly in the creation of new materials.

 

    This development is especially remarkable because invention and innovation were virtually taboo in Japan from the mid-1600s until the last decades of the 19th century, putting the Japanese some 200 years behind the Western world in scientific research and technology.

 

  But there is one area in which the Japanese have been more advanced than Westerners—intellectually as well as technologically—for well over a thousand years, and that is in the world of design and in the creation of arts and crafts that are superior in both design and quality.

 

   As far back as the 7th century Korean immigrants began bringing sophisticated Chinese art and craft technology to Japan. During the golden Heian period (794-1185) this technology and the accompanying master/apprentice system of training were integrated into Japan’s common culture.

 

     Each generation of artists and craftsmen raised the bar on the standards of design and quality until they reached the level of a fine art. When the first Westerners showed up in Japan in the 16th century they were astounded at the technological ability of the Japanese and the quality of their crafts.

 

     But it took the Japanese almost exactly one hundred years—from the 1860s to the 1960s—to get out from under the influence of foreign importers and to begin incorporating these traditional design and manufacturing skills into their export products—and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

 

   Today, the philosophical and ethical principles that are the foundation of Japanese design and product quality are being adopted worldwide, creating what is now being called a new era of design.

 

  I have been promoting the traditional elements of Japanese design since the 1950s, and in 2006 published a new book on the subject entitled Elements of Japanese—Key Terms for Understanding & Using Japan’s Classic Wabi-Sabi-Shibui Concepts.

   The book identifies 65 concepts that constitute the heart of the Japanese design process and the products that result—beginning with the terms honshitsu (hone-sheet-sue) and seizui (say-zooey), which refer to the essence of Japanese design, and ending with Zen, which teaches one how to distinguish reality from all of the illusions that become embedded in our minds.

 

   The book offers new insights into the historical and cultural developments that are at the roots of the new international aesthetic movement—from wa (wah), harmony; kaizen (kigh-zen), continuous improvement; and mushin (muu-sheen), empty mind, to mujo (muu-joh), incompleteness.

 

  Despite the inroads that have been made in Japan by Westernization and modernization since the 1860s the traditional design and quality concepts are alive and well, and they are tangible and visible for all to see.

 

     Even in crowded Tokyo and other Japanese cities the evidence of good design and quality are visible on subways and trains and in the streets—on advertising posters, on storefronts, in product displays, in the architecture and interior furnishings of shops and restaurants, in buildings and offices.

 

  For the discerning foreign visitor in Japan, just a few days can be an extraordinary aesthetic and cultural experience that is the highlight of the trip. If you look closely, the whole country is a virtual museum of modern and traditional art that adds an emotional, intellectual and spiritual ambiance to daily life.

 

    And it is possible for those who are more highly tuned to both the beauty and functionality of Japanese design to literally step back in time before the appearance of Western concepts in the country, when only Japanese designs existed, by simply going through a door—into a traditional inn, restaurant or home.

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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!