Saturday, 10 August 2013

"Advancement" vs. "tradition" in Japan

Many people have shrines next to skyscrapers and women in kimonos operating smartphones in mind when thinking about Tokyo. "Old vs. new" or "Advancement vs. tradition" is something that can not be captured in a photo however.

This contrast can not be seen, only experienced. In the land of robotic vacuum cleaners, most people clean their rooms with an old broom made of straw; if the water cooker and and the aircon is running, I do not dare to plug in my laptop.

In public toilets, I can choose between the traditional Japanese one, which is basically a hole in the floor covered in porcelain and the "westernized" version that is more convenient than any toilet I have ever seen in the West.

One should not be fooled into thinking Japan is less advanced. It is true that most Japanese people do not use a credit card, but mainly because the chargeable railcard "Nimoca" can be used to pay for almost anything.

Smartphones had a slow start in Japan, because even the most basic phone can send E-mails and connect to the Internet. I even tend to think that the marketing strategy for smartphones relies on the fact that there is more room for customization and decoration.

Japanese people might be amused by some aspects of daily life in Germany. For example that any people still use pencils that have to be sharpened by hand, or that you can not pay your bills at the supermarket.

"Advancement vs. tradition" is something the Japanese do not even think about, which resulted in questioning eyes when I tried to start a conversation about that here.

Just like Chinese people do not say "Chinese food" to what is just "food" to them.

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