Sat. Jan 28th, 2023

Growing up I was always told that we have so much to learn from Japan. I grew up during the boom of the Japanese car industry, I learned “Japanese” business tactics and I watched movies Gun Ho which portrayed discipline, perseverance and efficiency.

However, on my first trip to Japan, I wanted to explore the weird and wacky high-tech world that the media has so often portrayed. What I found was a place that is not as “high tech” as many Westerners think, but rather a relatively “low tech” plethora of conveniences that would make many Westerners envious.

The first thing I noticed was the lack of “open” Wi-Fi before I left for Japan. My research found that free Wi-Fi had to be registered in most places before entering Japan; it is not ubiquitous. Despite the airports or the occasional restaurant or tourist site with free wifi, I found this to be true. Thankfully, my Airbnb provided me with a free mobile access point, and my $13 SIM card for my unlocked Blu Android phone filled the gaps.

Even though I was visiting Hiroshima, not Tokyo, I still expected to pay by credit card everywhere. This was not possible as taxis, public transport and most small restaurants and shops do not accept credit cards at all, so I found myself visiting the ATM more than once.

Despite those low-tech facts, the conveniences I sought didn’t disappoint: from delightful auto-opening taxi doors to parking lot technology, disability and safety technology, conservation and cleanliness, and advanced toilet technology – I was impressed. These relatively minor conveniences not only impressed me, but they were all in working condition (not what I’m used to in NYC).

We may not need restroom noisemakers, and filthy NYC subway tracks have proven we do doing need public bins, but there is so much simple and creative “technology” that we can certainly continue to learn from Japanese culture.

Frame image by Jennifer Hahn

By akfire1

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