I travel back and forth between Japan and the United States, mostly Tokyo and New York and a few other American cities, several times a year. The contrast is jarring. Arriving in the US can feel like rolling back a decade or more, returning to a time when information was scarce, infrastructure was creaky and basic services such as ground transportation were chaotic and unreliable.

Roland Kelts on What the west can learn from Japan’s “lost decades.” This echoes a lot of my experience there recently, and I had the good fortune of meeting Roland as well.

4 thoughts on “What we can learn from Japan

  1. “the west”? Maybe just say “USA” if that is what you mean? There is plenty of western countries that live up to the experience in Japan

  2. “As the Tosa Maru drew alongside the pier at Yokohama it was raining hard and this had attired an army after the manner of Robinson Crusoe… ready to carry you and yours to the Customs house and beyond for one, two, three or five cents. Strong was the contrast when the journey was reversed and we descended the gang plank at Seattle, where no one sought the opportunity of moving baggage.”

    “This marvelous heritage of economy, industry and thrift, bred of the stress of centuries, must not be permitted to lose virility through contact with western wasteful practices, now exalted to seeming virtues through the dazzling brilliancy of mechanical achievements.” (in the context of farming)

    Written circa 1900 by FH King, author of [Farmers of Forty Centuries](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farmers_of_Forty_Centuries) (book is [free](http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/5350), some parts may be a bit technical, but it’s an otherwise enlightening read. [Good reviews on amazon](http://www.amazon.com/Farmers-Forty-Centuries-Organic-Farming/product-reviews/0486436098/ref=cm_cr_dp_qt_see_all_top?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=byRankDescending) too.). And I reckon that some missionaries before that must have made similar observations.

    Some things just don’t change, do they? 😉