In this article I will share with you some Japanese philosophies that have been the basis of the economic, educational and cultural structure of this country and that have placed it among the best economies in the world, just after the USA and China, with just the double of the population of countries such as Italy or UK, with countless companies well-known throughout the planet for efficiency and technical innovation.
How did they do it without having raw materials, land or other important factors? How did they become a world example with their education system? These questions will be answered in the reading and discovering the methods they have implemented to stand themselves as a global example with their economic, educational and cultural system, raising the body and mind to advance to the next level.
This article has been created to go deeper into the culture that originated GHA technology, of which Luxindustrial is the partner in scientific research and business development.
Given that the literal translation of Japanese words does not always exist in Western cultures, so sometimes a slight circumstantial effort must be made to the concept.
1) Let’s take the first example, which is Kintsugi :
Poetically translated as “golden joinery”, Kintsugi, by the 16° century is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery. Rather than rejoin ceramic pieces with a camouflaged adhesive, the Kintsugi technique employs a special tree sap lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Once completed, beautiful seams of gold glint in the conspicuous cracks of ceramic wares, giving a one-of-a-kind appearance to each “repaired” piece.
Namely, the practice is related to the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-sabi, which calls for seeing beauty in the flawed or imperfect.
G.H.A.® has been designed by Japanese engineers to provide the possibility of transforming what is considered a defect into an asset: seal the porosities of the crystals of the anodic oxides, through a special galvanic process using silver ions Ag+, uniformly distributed on the surface and permanently present during the long-lasting wearing down of the surface.
G.H.A.® means Golden Hard Anodizing because of the interference color and shades that the presence of ionic silver lends to the aluminium surface.
In addition, the G.H.A.® material is compatible with all laws pertaining to contact with food, so it provides the additional safety of avoiding heavy metals on our hands after using non-allergenic equipment (Nickel-free & Chrome-free). (link G.H.A.® Technology)
2) Many others are the habits, such as Wabi-sabi :
Mentioned above, it is the vision that describes the “imperfect, impermanent and incomplete beauty”, which derives from the Buddhist doctrine.
3) Ichigo-ichie is another ancient cornerstone of Japanese culture
It can be translated as “once, a meeting” or “in this moment an opportunity”, a sort of carpe diem.
Being aware of the Ichigo-ichie means knowing that every experience we live is a treasure that will never be repeated in the same way. Therefore, if we let it pass without savoring it to the full, the opportunity will be lost forever. It is a concept that may seem trivial but which we easily forget, taken as we are by the commitments and worries of daily life.
In an age that celebrates speed and consumption, this concept goes against the grain, and urges us to take our foot off the accelerator and learn to live focused on the present, learning to listen first to ourselves, and then to others. It invites us to seek peace beyond the background noises that tire us every day and make every coincidence precious, thus putting Japanese carpe diem into practice.
4) Finding Ikigai , that is, one’s reason for living
It is a method to get to know yourself, to discover what gives meaning and fulfillment to your’s daily life, to feel a full, satisfying and worth living existence. Ikigai is a magical word, of which there is no simple translation. We can define it as “the reason for existing”, “the engine of life”, or even better “what it is worth getting up for in the morning” (The word can also indicate a person you are deeply in love with).
Each of us has our own, although not everyone is aware of it: it is the fundamental premise for living a healthy, satisfying and simply happy life. An example is the inhabitants of the island of Okinawa, where the rate of over 100 years old is very high: their awareness of their ikigai, combined with a healthy and relaxed lifestyle, makes them one of the longest-lived and happiest populations on the planet.
Recognize the truly important values and goals of life, what gives us energy, curiosity, positivity, personal fulfillment, self-confidence and planning. In other words, what it takes to be happy.
5) The Hansei philosophy is a central concept of Japanese culture, especially in the managerial one
It sees all experiences, good or bad, as gifts for growth. It is the philosophy of “self-reflection” that stimulates collaboration and continuous improvement. It is based on 5 steps: Reflection, Recognition, Responsibility, Promise and Improvement.
An example of this attitude is given by the behavior taken by Japanese politicians involved in scandals: they appear in public apologizing for their past gestures and disappear from the political scene for a few years. However, after years they return to the political scene again: the average Japanese thinks they have “learned their lesson”.
The Hansei Team Leader always takes responsibility for the collaborators’ mistakes and the Hansei team never wastes time looking for the person responsible of a mistake, all that to concentrate only on finding solutions.
6) Osoji is the end-of-year ritual that involves the whole family
The osoji offers the opportunity to close the year by getting rid of the dirt and accumulated things and to start again lightly with the new year. It derives from the Susu-harai tradition to welcome Shinto’s spirits.
This family moment is very important: everyone takes part in the cleaning, even the children, who in this way are educated to respect and order from an early age. We remember the episodes of the last world championships and of the Japanese schools where there are no janitors because the children take turns in cleaning. It is a good expedient to teach civility and cleanliness even in common areas.
7) Now let’s talk about the nicest one: Chindogu
This is the art of inventing “useful but unusable” objects. It was recently born from a Japanese engineer, Kenji Kawakami, in 1980. The inventor asserts the idea of inventing or innovating without having a commercial purpose, denouncing the “consumerism” and “utilitarianism” omnipresent in the modern world.
8) Inemuri is the art of napping at work
Interesting to know that it can also be considered paid work. In Western culture we have the pisolino, the siesta, the nap, etc. but they are something very different from the all-Japanese custom of making inemuri. It literally means “to be present while you sleep”.
It is a symbol of extreme dedication to work, so if you find yourself dozing off in public due to extreme fatigue, you can be proud of being a hard worker. While it has always been seen as gross negligence, it has recently been re-evaluated from scientific evidence highlighting health and productivity benefits. Numerous employers have provided facilities to do it.
9) Kakebo is the home account book to which the Japanese entrust their personal budget
In practice, it is a kind of diary in which you can record your income and expenses but above all reflect on your spending habits, to learn how to save and improve your financial management. It guarantees an automatic saving of 35%.
Keeping a Kakebo avoids the stress of bad financial management, develops self-discipline and self-knowledge.
The Japanese consider it a tool that promotes tranquility of the soul and frees mental energy.
The 4 main categories of expenses: Basic necessities, Optional, Culture and free time, Extra and unexpected.
10) The Kaizen method is a continuous improvement system for total quality
Introduced by Toyota, it is widely used in Lean Manufacturing.
The Japanese word KAIZEN is composed of KAI (change) and ZEN (better), or else “change for the better”, “improvement”.
The kaizen logic consists in achieving results not through large reorganizations or investments, but through the cumulative effect of a series of small systematic improvements, which lead to the costs reduction, profits improvement and way of working. We therefore work:
- Gradually and systematically;
- With limited investments;
- By involving people who are already in the field (Kaizen Team or Project Team).
By adopting the Kaizen philosophy it is possible to:
- Eliminate waste and reduce activities that do not create value;
- Reduce costs and delivery times;
- Simplify activities;
- Prevent the onset of future problems (e.g. safety, ergonomics, etc.).
The 8 kaizen steps are: Identifying the operational area, Analyzing and quantifying problems and feasible improvements, Raising awareness in the team, Solutions finding, Solutions implementation, Results measuring and verification, Standardization, and Consolidation of the standards over time.
It is essential to monitor oneself with indicators because only if you measure them you can improve and understand what the sustainable and achievable goal is (step-by-step).
There are clearly many references to the Buddhist-Zen doctrine, which involves a mentality of awareness very linked to intuition, without space and time, to regain possession of reality.
But perhaps the most famous and well-known is the bowing :
- 15 degree bow (eshaku), which is used in informal situations or for greetings
- 30 degree bow (keirei), which is used in formal situations to a teacher or employer
- 45 degree bow (saikeirei), which is used for profound apologies or when meeting very important people