Quote Japan

Interesting, odd, outrageous or informative quotes about Japan

Conformity- Quotes about the Japanese “herd mentality”

“People have a view of the Japanese as quite conformist, but the number of people asking us to do something we’ve never seen before is the highest in the world.”Matthew Bennett, general manager of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in Japan, Quoted by Reuters 7 January 2008 in the article “Japan’s New Rich

“Those people hanging around Ginza, they are just showing off. If someone has it, other people want it. That’s Japanese. The group mentality.”A 45 year old Japanese super rich business owner, as quoted by Reuters on 7 January 2008. It seems even people trying to be different can be explained as a Japanese herd mentality!??

“It often seemed to me, in fact, that all the tinky amusement-park surfaces and chipper reassurances of the public world here were almost a way of keeping people quiet; or at least of providing them with pre-shrunk pleasures so that they would not seek out unscheduled dreams of their own- let alone acknowledge any kind of sadness. Thus all the happy communal rites- from Disneyland tours to cherry blossom parties- seemed ways of providing safe, user-friendly forms of organized happiness, satisfaction guaranteed, a little like the bright baubles that a parent might offer a child to prevent him from crying. This was the social contract in Japan: forfeit your individuality and you would receive a life of stability and comfort; give yourself over to Japan and it would never let you down. It was like a kind of emotional welfare system: give up your freedom and you would receive a life so convenient that you’d hardly notice the freedom you’d relinquished” Pico Iyer (author of the much better known Video Nights in Kathmandu) in “The Lady and the Monk”

“Marginality is easy to come by and hard to lose in Japan, and that hazard is a powerful disincentive to be in any way “different”. Those so marked of course don’t want their children to suffer the same stigma. While intellectuals and critics may look for the social climate to change so that children can be more independent, the adults themselves will limit the risks of diferentness to the maximum extent possible.” from ““The Japanese Educational Challenge” by Merry White (1987)

“Although individual Japanese incline towards conformity, the nation as a whole believes itself to be utterly unique… Hence we have a kind of ‘national individualism’” from ““The Japanese Educational Challenge” by Merry White (1987)

“Kabuki is a good example of the ultimate in kata-izing human behaviour, revealing not only its strengths in providing precise guidelines for each new performer to master the set form, but also the weakness and inhumanity of the system as well in that it rejects any individuality or new intelligence and thus stifles change and growth of the person and the art. Still the Japanese tend to look upon kabuki as representative of the best of traditional Japan, and continue to herd foreign visitors to the Kabuki-za for a taste of the “real Japan” without realizing they might also be showing the worst side of Japanese culture” from “Kata” by Lafayette De Mente (2003)

“everyone [in a group] is not only supposed to think and act alike, they are also supposed to be equal in ability” from “Kata” by Lafayette De Mente (2003)

“This is what the wise Japanese does. He pays lip service to the laws, is a strong believer in public morality, then goes out for an evening in Shinjuku and does anything he feels like doing” Donald Ritchie in “Tokyo” (Reaktion Books, 1999)

“As Kurt Singer has said, let the Westerner try to sincerely live by Japanese customs ‘and he will instantly feel what a cell endowed with rudiments of human sensibility must be supposed to feel in a well-coordinated

“flawed clockwork toys” Japanese people according to Paul Theroux. No idea what that is supposed to mean!

“The lack of what in other societies might be valued as ‘privacy’ is part of what it means to be a ‘member’ of a community like Shinohata” Ronald P Dore

“The idea that the individual should be the starting point, and that social arrangements are the result of a social contract for mutual convenience… is a relatively new one even in Europe. It has even more tenuous roots in Japan” Ronald P Dore

“They happily wear The Factory’s uniform even on off-duty Sundays; when they come to the shop they loyally spurn the products of rival firms, even though the Factory’s brand may be out of stock” Poor villagers take the Japanese loyalty to the company to new extremes, Ronald P. Dore

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