Japan (March 2013)

Just got back from Japan. I lived there many years ago and thought of re-connecting with that world again. It was neat to see Japanese art, design and music in an authentic form since we often see the commercial side of Japanese exports. After the tsunami tragedy, it appears there is a greater consciousness in Japan for conservation and environmentalism. Japanese culture has always had a heightened sensitivity towards nature. As a society it has the unique advantage of rallying together when action must be taken since the degree of diversity and clashing viewpoints is unlike in America. It’s growing in this direction but the basic concepts of Japanese society can be seen to be believed. Japan has always been a village that still takes care of its children and elders in the way it should be done.

It has also become a hub for environmental leadership. Here are some concepts keeping the great nation together:

1. mono-no-aware: awareness of impermanence and greater sensitivity of things.

2. ma: empty space and the need to reduce clutter. The simplicity movement is based on this concept.

3. wabi-sabi: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect and that is a good thing.

4. kanketsu: true simplicity is often achieved through a complex process.

5. hara hachi bunme: stop eating when you are 80% full.

6. nemawashi: consensus-based decision making… Don’t rock the boat.

Japanese culture and philosophy has impacted the world. It’s felt more in Silicon Valley than anywhere else, especially among entrepreneurs.


At one point I was thinking about going to Japan and trying to get into the Eihei-ji monastery, but my spiritual advisor urged me to stay here. He said there is nothing over there that isn’t here, and he was correct. I learned the truth of the Zen saying that if you are willing to travel around the world to meet a teacher, one will appear next door.

Steve Jobs


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