Reply to: Commenting on "10 Reasons Japan Is Better Than America"
Sorry for the delay in approving your comment on my blog; I was out of town for a few days. I don't want to take the time to respond in detail to all of your points, but let me address a few of them:
- "Yes, the Japanese take in culture from the rest of the world and - as the culturologists always intone - "make it uniquely their own"... But here's the kicker: the rest of humanity does exactly the same thing."
To some extent that's true of course, but it seems more prevalent in Japan. For example, according to "Insight Guides: Japan,"
"The average Japanese thinks nothing of marrying at a Shinto shrine, burying loved ones in a Buddhist cemetery, or boisterously celebrating Christmas. Although the devout Christian or Muslim -- each with a monotheistic god demanding unswerving fidelity, the typical Japanese sees no contradiction."
- Your comments about kaizen go against a lot of the stuff I've read. I agree that the word literally means just improvement, but everything I've read has said that it carries a much deeper meaning. If your assertion is accurate, you might want to start by correcting the Wikipedia entry on kaizen.
- "And to address a particular brand of pet peeve that always plagues "culture" articles: there's that omnipresent abuse of the term "the Japanese". Sorry, but "the Japanese" did not build a robot that can play the trumpet. Toyota did. More specifically, some subset of Toyota employees did. The remaining 99.x% of "the Japanese" most emphatically, unmistakably did not build that robot. I'll never understand why people don't get that vital point."
I think everyone gets that point. It's like saying "the Americans dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima." Which Americans? All of them? Of course not; only one American did. But people know what you mean when you say this.
- "I hope the disagreements don't come across as condescending toward the article's author. They're (mostly) minor objections, and I don't want to read unintended tone into the author's words."
Your comments are most welcome, and I don't mind them at all. You're right that some of what I said was tongue in cheek or simple shorthand. It really was just meant to point out some things I liked about Japan. Thank you for taking the discussion to the next level.