East Asian technological innovations have long outpaced those in the West. Products that sound like recent or even future innovations to most Westerners have been available for decades in Asia, particularly in Japan. These include:
· A handheld device that enables customers to order food and drinks from their karaoke room.
· A button attached to the table that customers push to alert a waitress.
· A slew of vending machines that sell everything you can imagine: alcohol, ramen, underwear, umbrellas, rice, newspapers, cell phones.
· Love hotels where guests can check in discreetly without interacting with other human beings.
“A world in which poverty and inequity are endemic will always be prone to ecological and other crises.” — Brundtland Report, 1987
I teach a class on social sustainability — it’s a required class for students who want to earn a certificate for sustainability. But, it’s not a class that many students are initially excited to take.
For some of my students, environmental issues are directly relevant to them because they grew up in a poor, polluted community made up of minority groups and have been subjected to environmental racism. But for the majority of people who are interested in…
To be better stewards for our planet and people, we need to stop making snap judgments and think more holistically
Being wrong about the sustainability of a product may not seem like a big deal — and it’s not, if we only make mistakes sporadically. But if we never question our snap decisions (or any decision, for that matter), it allows unsustainable businesses to greenwash their products while continuing to do business as usual. They won’t feel the need to be more sustainable. …
A few months ago, I learned that the oldest business in the world still operating today was founded in 578 AD. And that the second, third, fourth, and fifth oldest were founded in 705 AD, 717 AD, 718 AD, and 771 AD, respectively.
And that all of these businesses are Japanese.
Your first guess might be that these are big conglomerates, such as Mitsubishi or Sumitomo. In reality, most of these businesses are small to medium in size, and span a wide variety of industries, from construction to hotels to ceremonial paper goods.
In fact, Japan is home to over…
How the convergence of indoor farming technology and smart, human-focused solutions can create a more sustainable approach to feeding ourselves
Over the last decade, indoor farming, often referred to interchangeably as vertical or controlled environment farming, has continued to gain momentum as a promising new approach to food production. While the benefits of indoor farming are starting to capture headlines, it is important to unpack the range of realities — both in terms of opportunities and challenges — that are associated with this movement. …
“The world we have created is a product of our thinking. If we want to change the world, we have to change our thinking.” — Albert Einstein
o Sustainability is the ultimate human problem, which means we cannot solve it without understanding human behavior
o The West is still heavily influenced by ancient Greek culture, which emphasized individualism, an independent view of the self, and analytic thinking
o A view of the self as independent combined with extreme individualistic tendencies is not conducive to solving sustainability issues because it leads to myopic and moralistic thoughts and behaviors
o Incorporating behavioral…
How Japan’s unique cultural attitudes explain its people’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.
“Though there is no evidence that the infections are slowing down, it is tough to continue staying at home. As such, we should follow the rules together and enjoy the cherry blossoms while confronting the corona virus.” — AERA magazine online, Asahi Newspaper Publishing
Cherry blossom season is the liveliest time of the year in Japan. Throngs of people visit parks across the nation for ohanami (cherry blossom viewing) to gather under the pink trees and enjoy a picnic.
This year, the Japanese Ministry of Health recommended…
… Everyone around me is a total stranger
Everyone avoids me like a cyclone ranger
That’s why I’m turning Japanese, I think I’m turning Japanese, I really think so
Turning Japanese, I think I’m turning Japanese, I really think so…
- Excerpt from the song, “Turning Japanese” by The Vapors, 1980
In the past, Orientalism and the idea of the Asian mystique played a major role in shaping Westerners’ interest in the East. Even in recent years, we still see reflections of cultural appropriation (though some argue that it is cultural appreciation) in pop culture, like in Avril Lavigne’s…
What the U.S. can learn from Asian retail
o A Disney store that caters to adults, featuring interactive mirrors and fixtures subtly adorned with character details.
o Cat cafés where customers can fraternize with feline companions while enjoying a cup of coffee.
o A skatepark perched on top of a shopping mall.
o Department stores with a 2-story basement food market (depachika in Japanese) brimming with a vast array of renowned restaurant, dessert, and niche culinary brands.
o A Muji Café where customers can peruse high quality, “private label” merchandise and/or sit down to grab a healthy bite.
Striving to build a better world via behavioral insights and cross-cultural perspectives. Educator/ Researcher/ Consultant. Founder & CEO of Illumirai. MBA/PhD.