Quote Japan

Interesting, odd, outrageous or informative quotes about Japan

Japanese quotes yet to be classified

The samurai spirit is in me. The Japanese character is that we pursue one thing earnestly and with great diligence. For me, that object of diligence happens to be France.
Noboru Tani, 55, the owner-chef of Le Mange-Tout, one of the 25 restaurants in Tokyo to win two Michelin stars. Tani goes home to his family only one night a week and happily describes his restaurant as a “prison.” (Washington Post)

I love France. I once had a French girlfriend. She gave me a pistol as a souvenir but now it’s too old to be of any use.
Tokyo Gov Shintaro Ishihara, still trying to deflect criticism of his remarks in 2004 when he said French was disqualified as an international language as it was impossible to count in it. Twenty-one scholars, teachers and translators, including seven French people who live in Japan, sued Ishihara unsuccessfully for damages
 
Their JET experiences and ties with Japan remain a strong influence. We may very well have a whole ‘JET generation’ to look forward to, one which will guide the Japan-U.S. relationship in the decades to come.
Motoatsu Sakurai, Japanese ambassador and consul general in New York. Two decades after the Japanese government instituted the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program as part of an internationalization effort, over 46,000 participants from 55 countries have lived and worked in its communities as all sides continue to benefit from the cross-cultural interaction. (Kyodo)

Most assets in Japan are Japanese. The Japanese would have to defend themselves.
Brig Gen Joh E Seward, the deputy commanding general of operations for the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command. He said that while U.S. missile detection has vastly improved, it will largely fall to Japan to defend itself in the event of an atack by North Korea or China. (AP)

Among the Group of Eight countries, Japan and Russia are the only two countries that do not criminalize the possession of child pornography.
U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer, calling on Japan to update pornography laws to make it a crime so that investigators can obtain search warrants to confiscate and search suspects’ computers. (Daily Yomiuri)

It is a myth that Japanese companies are world leaders in energy-saving technology and recent research has abundantly demonstrated that there are many more ways to reduce greenhouse gases at low cost.
Jusen Asuka, an environmental policy expert at Tohoku University, saying that asking private companies in Japan to implement voluntary action plans for environmental protection, will not be enough for Japan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Kyodo)

In foreign policy, every country seeks status and autonomy. Since Japan doesn’t have a lot of autonomy, it puts a lot of emphasis on status.
Jeff Kingston, professor of Asian Studies at Tokyo’s Temple University, on why Japan is devoting so much effort to hosting the G-8 summit in July when it hopes to champion the environment by hammering out a new deal on global warming.
 
 No extramarital affairs, or at least keep it a secret from her. And hold your wife’s hand in public.
Instructions on a poster at the National Chauvinistic Husbands Association, which has been set up to help husbands give their wives more attention. A new law in Japan giving more rights to divorced women has caused divorces to go up but also forced men to recognize their wives must come before work. (UPI)
 
Crimes by elderly people are increasing faster than the population is aging.
Osamu Nasu of the Police Policy Research Center at the National Police Academy. About 45,000 people over 65 were prosecuted in Japan between January and November. The crimes were mainly assault and shoplifting. (Reuters)

It’s ironic, but it took this crisis to make universities realize they actually have to educate their students.
Atsushi Hamana, president of the Kansai University of International Studies, saying that financial pressures and a lack of students are forcing universities to improve or perish, a big change in a country where higher education has long been viewed as a four-year break before entering the work force. (International Herald Tribune)

“people in this nation are not happy, not happy as individuals. They try to be happy as a group, at the cost of the individual, which is the contradiction. You have to be happy first as an individual.” Hisako Watanabe, a child psychiatrist at Keio University Medical Centre, quoted in “Shutting Out the Sun” pg 88. If only life really was that simple…

 ”This man literally did not take one step outside his room for four years. He would occasionally talk through the door to his parents, but they had not set their eyes on him in all that time” Shutting Out the Sun pg 90

“The very first hikikomori was Ameterasu oomikami” Sadasugu Kudo, head of the Tamejuku support centre for hikikomori, Shutting Out the Sun pg 92

“If industrial policy is a matter of ‘picking winners and losers’, then the essence of Japan’s malaise is that it gradually shifted from promoting winners to protecting losers” Economist Richard Katz, quoted in Shutting Out the Sun, pg 105. As someone living in Tokyo rather than looking at graphs from abroad, I would say it is exactly the protection of the weak companies etc that is stopping Japan slipping into the malaise that the UK is in, at least in the short term

“Shutting down scores of bad borrowers and throwing millions of people out of work would violate the nation’s sacred social contract, and cause bankers to lose credibility” pg 106 (believe it or not, that is supposed to a criticism because they didn’t do so!)

“their existence continued to distort the market by keeping wages higher and prices lower than they might otherwise become” (high wages and low prices? Oh dear, what shall we do??)

The Japanese government decided to use a “gentle, Japanese-style clean up”(rather than a harsh Anglo-Saxon -style one,I guess he means

“it would pursue a policy of forbearance rather than inject…$700 billion…”pg106 (how someone can criticize a government for trying to find a way not to spend $700 billion, I really don’t understand!)

“juku, or private “cram schools”, where students often study until ten or eleven o’clock every night” Most Japanese kids do not have juku 5 nights a week (let alone the 7 nights that “every week” could mean), if only because few parents could afford it. Needless to say, you do not see trains full of returning teenagers that late at night either.

“These young adults depend on their parents after they grow up, and really live in a parastic state. Even at thirty or forty years old, the parents support them. This state is very specific to Japan. It doesn’t exist anyplace else in the world.” …apart from Italy,Greece,Spain,most of Latin America, not to mention the well documented recent trend in the USA and UK.Tamaki Saito, quoted in Shutting Out the Sun. I still haven’t worked out whether Michael Zielenzieger’s tendency to accept such statements and wildly inflated statistics plucked out of the air like 1 million hikikomori is due to his obvious ignorance about Japan orjust the more general human tendancy to accept anything that supports what you already believe

“Neither bullying nor acute trauma can really be blamed for Hiro’s social withdrawal. In fact, I could find no single trigger for his decision to drop from the world’s view. He simply ran out of the energy Japanese youth are expected to have for the obstacle course ahead of them.” Shutting Out the Sun pg 39

“At age five Hiro was packed off to juku, or cram school, like other children” This misleadingly suggests that most Japanese 5 year olds go to cram school, whereas it is actually a tiny minority, probably far fewer than the American children submitted to flashcards before than can talk. One of many examples of inaccuracies and colourful language where none is needed in “Shutting Out the Sun” pg 35

“I felt different in a country where the buses don’t always run on time” A 30 year old hikikomori, on the relief in his symptoms on getting out of Japan and visiting Thailand

“Half the people don’t know how bad things are, the rest are in denial” Shutting Out the Sun pg 13

“Sixty years after the end of World War Two, contemporary Japan is at peace, but everyone who lives there knows that something is wrong” Shutting Out the Sun pg 2.

Everyone???? Does he mean not one person in the country has a doubt that the country is screwed? If so, funny that he should then go on later in the book to say that the government is acting like they believe everything is okay…

“[Japan is] a place for people unable to comprehend the moral coordinates of right and wrong as anything other than a rebus for ‘I feel good’” artist Takashi Murakami, quoted in “Shutting Out the Sun” pg 9

War quotes

“Through its colonial rule and aggression [Japan] caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries. I express here once again my feelings of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology” Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi in 1995, quoted in Uneasy Warriors pg 194

Murayama Tomiichi quotes

“Through its colonial rule and aggression [Japan] caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries. I express here once again my feelings of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology” Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi in 1995, quoted in Uneasy Warriors pg 194

 “Tokyo, alone among the world’s great metropolises, is a city without an icon. New York and Hong Kong have their famous skylines, Paris its Eiffel Tower, London its bridges across the Thames. Tokyo has no signature buildings, no skyline, no stunning harbours or rivers. In the popular imagination, Tokyo exists as a sprawl, amorphous and constantly changing…Tokyo is the movie set through which Godzilla stomps and rampages.” Tokyo Style pg 6

“Making and operating model railways is considered by many as the ‘king of hobbies'” Hiroyuki Sakai in the IHT/Asahi Shimbun Feb 23 2008 No irony intended!

“a certain level of violence is ‘natural among married couples'” One argument by opponents of a law against domestic violence “Instances of ‘violence’ that are not serious in nature, but simple and single, are natural among married couples. The idea of ‘eliminating spousal violence’ is a display of radical feminism” a letter from “Shuken Kaifuku o Mezasu Kai” quoted in the IHT/ Asahi Shimbut 23 Feb 2008

“living in Japan is like being perpetually on jury service” The Outnation pg 102

“Traditionally, the Japanese, as the political scientist Takeshi Ishida has so insightfully said, have tended to regard social phenomena as natural events. Wars and dictatorships, like droughts and earthquakes, just come and go. You wait them out” The Outnation pg 99

“American democracy is noisy and fast, with political competitors inventing choices and voters grabbing them. Japanese democracy is quiet and slow, with the ruling party feeling for vibrations in its web and responding when it senses trouble” The Outnation pg 100

“In the old days of the shogunate, the adviser who advocated a policy that failed was expected to redeem his honor by disembowelling himself. Understandably, this led to a certain reluctance to take responsibility.” The Outnation pg 73

“The underdog finds no friend in Japan. Rather, it takes a sentimental culture, such as ours, to find some virtue in being weak.” Donald Ritchie, quoted in The Outnation pg 75

“The company is eternal.It is our duty to devote our lives to that eternity. Our employment may last for only twenty or thirty years, but the life of a company is eternal. I must be brave and act as a man to protect that eternal life” A suicide note from an executive who killed himself to protect the secrets of his company, caught up in a scandal, quoted in The Outnation, pg 69

“Time and again I talked to Japanese, especially of the intellectual class, who saw themselves as the rare individualist in a crowd of conformists;and after I had lost count of the rare individualists I had met, I began to get suspicious.” The Outnation pg 45

“I saw a lot of what I wish for myself in these young Japanese- modesty, seriousness without solemnity, and gentleness of deportment. In connection with them a phrase enters the mind that has become dusty and quaint in America: they seem well brought up.” The Outnation pg 34

“The Japanese reminded me of a remark attributed to Gypsy Rose Lee, the striptease artist, who said that anything worth doing is worth doing slowly” The Outnation pg 37 “In Japan, efficiency has more to do with perfection than with speed” The Outnation pg 37

“For the rambling nerd, there is no better country than Japan: it’s the exotic East (pagodas! Buddhas!), but all the pay phones work and you’re never out of sight of a convenience store.” The Outnation pg 33

“Excepting perhaps Los Angeles, Tokyo is the only major city I have ever visited that made no architectural impression of any kind” The Outnation pg 28 “[In Japan] even tastelessness – especially tastelessness- is done immaculately” The Outnation pg 31

“Japan today is very largely a product of two defining traumas of conflict with the West, and in both cases ‘the West’ was specifically the United States government…To this day, Washington looks from Tokyo like a giant whose every mood must be carefully monitored and reacted to. When some American goofball writes a book or makes a speech about Japan’s plot to take over the world, the American papers ignore it or bury it, but the Japanese papers put it on page one” The Outnation pg 32/33

“I was always a little startled when I was addressed from time to time- for instance, if a bus driver wanted my attention- as gaijin-san, ‘Mr Foreigner.’ I suppose I felt the way a black man might feel if he were addressed as ‘Mr Negro'” The Outnation pg 13 “They were entitled to extended vacations but never used them; if they were gone for more than a long weekend, bosses would growl, colleagues would be over-burdened. Mr Nakahara had not had a whole week’s vacation since his honeymoon. ‘I don’t get no satisfaction,’ he said, in Rolling Stones English.” The Outnation pg 27

“Japan is not the Asia of Western novels. To fing that mysterious Asia now, one has to set out to look for it or invent it, which is just what many foreigners here do” The Outnation by Jonathan Rauch, pg 8

“[Japan is] the land of temples and shrines now approximately as hushed and holy as the Bronx Zoo” The Outnation pg 8

“the slaphappy use of decorative English [on T-shirts] brings to mind the primitive tribesman who decks himself out with a fanbelt for a necklace and a hubcap for a hat” The Outnation pg 11

“One night a university student in Niigata tells me that he does not want to work for one of the big corporations, but it can’t be helped. He says he went to New York and loved it- felt free there, does not feel free in Japan. Strange, though: he is matter-of-fact and placid. The truth is that in today’s Japan he could change his fate if he tried, but he won’t try. What does one say about this young man, who has chosen not to choose? Free or oppressed? He himself will not say, and in any case he is no judge.” The Outnation pg 6

“[Japan’s] assumptions are so different from the West that to understand it seemed scarcely easier than eating sirloin steak with chopsticks” Pico Iyer, Video Nights in Katmandu

“Here was passion by remote control, and everytime I saw ten thousand [baseball] fans filling the air in unison with black-and-yellow bullhorns, I found myself shuddering a little at the militarism of the display-and its beauty.” Pico Iyer, Video Nights in Katmandu

“What is absolutely new about this society which is accomplishing such marvels is that in all its many aspects…it is working toward the single goal of production… Hence a growing tendency to reduce all virtues to the primordial ideal of conformity… The nation is not individualistic in mentality, and it therefore accepts this collectivism as part of itself; and the regime really suits it. The material advantages are so great, the security so perfect, and the enthusiasm of collective action in accomplishing stupendous tasks so overwhelming, that in an almost mystical abandon, other considerations are neither heeded nor missed” Andre Siegfried, actually describing America in 1927, quoted in The Outnation pg 117

“I remember one Japanese man telling me how his son, only a few weeks after from college and entering one of the great companies, had been changed and flattened: he became less inquisitive, less lively, oddly and almost excessively polite. The boy was being corporatized.” The Outnation pg 117

“the United States is Japan’s only effective opposition party” The Outnation pg 109

“There is no heart of darkness in the bureaucratic-corporate jungle of Japanese technofeudalism, no magic: mainly just reinstruction in what we thought we knew but never learned well enough. What has worked for Japan is what works everywhere: thrift, honesty, hard work, education, property rights, a willingness to sacrifice for tomorrow, and strong families that take good care of children” The Outnation pg 110

NHK Cool Japan

“While many train departures overseas are signaled by the simple blowing of a whistle, Japanese train departures are now accompanied by the pleasant sound of upbeat music. Many foreigners also seem rather pleased with this thoughtful development” What world do NHK staff live in??? From “Cool Japan” pg 41

“It’s possible to forget the bustle of work and everyday life, and simply enjoy your own fantasy world” S and M? No- little sticky photos with stars and writing on! (仕事や日々のゴタゴタといった現実を忘れてファンタジーの世界を思い切り楽しめる) NHK Cool Japan pg 18

“even in countries like the United Kingdom and Brazil, which are known for their wild enthusiasm for soccer, people cheer only as individuals” (サッカーが人気のイギリスやブラジルでも、応援は一人ひとりが好き勝手に呼ぶだけ) A desperate attempt to find a positive about the much hated (by foreign regulars at Japanese baseball and football) unspontaneous group cheering, from NHK Cool Japan pg 27

“The colors of the uniforms match the trains! They look so nice!” (車体とマッチした制服の色がかわいいし、同じ服を着てまとまって働く姿は見ていて素敵) Geraldine from France proves that it will always be possible to make a living in Japan telling people what they want to hear, from NHK Cool Japan pg 31

 “Japanese wedding receptions are almost like a show… with a precise orchestration of laughter, surprise and happiness…” It might just be the translation but that is supposed to be a positive description of nothing being left to chance NHK Cool Japan pg 35

Shutting Out the Sun quotes

“Half the people don’t know how bad things are, the rest are in denial” Shutting Out the Sun pg 13

“Sixty years after the end of World War Two, contemporary Japan is at peace, but everyone who lives there knows that something is wrong” Shutting Out the Sun pg 2

“[Japan is] a place for people unable to comprehend the moral coordinates of right and wrong as anything other than a rebus for ‘I feel good'” artist Takashi Murakami, quoted in “Shutting Out the Sun” pg 9

Takashi Murakami- quotes from the man who turned manga into “art”

“[Japan is] a place for people unable to comprehend the moral coordinates of right and wrong as anything other than a rebus for ‘I feel good'” artist Takashi Murakami, quoted in “Shutting Out the Sun” pg 9

Things Japanese quotes

“Upon these mats people eat, sleep, and die. They represent the bed, chair, lounge and sometimes table, combined” Edward Morse, quoted in “Things Japanese”

“Around the hibachi,” observed one foreign visitor in 1907, “circulates not only the domestic but also the social life of Japan. All warm themselves at it; tea is brewed by means of it; guests are entertained, chess played, politics discussed beside it; secrets are told across it; and love made over it.” Things Japanese pg 31

“I was told that in one family in Tokyo the fire [in their hibachi] had been kept alive continuously for over two hundred years” Edward Morse,quoted in Things Japanese pg 31

“The Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s two attempts to invade Korea in 1592 and 1598 were dismal failures. But, taken with ceramics they discovered along the campaign trail, some of his generals came up with a brilliant idea… Rather than burden themselves with crates full of plundered pottery, they kidnapped the potters” Things Japanese pg 32

Edward Morse quotes

“Upon these mats people eat, sleep, and die. They represent the bed, chair, lounge and sometimes table, combined” Edward Morse, quoted in “Things Japanese”

“I was told that in one family in Tokyo the fire [in their hibachi] had been kept alive continuously for over two hundred years” Edward Morse,quoted in Things Japanese pg 31

Japan Close-Up quotes

“To find harmony in continual conflict is the key” Panasonic founder Konosuke Matsushita, quoted in Japan Close-Up Feb 08

Konosuke Matsushita quotes

“To find harmony in continual conflict is the key” Panasonic founder Konosuke Matsushita, quoted in Japan Close-Up Feb 08

“like a prettier, funnier version of Christina Ricci” Half-English tarento Becky, according to Matt Fargo in Dirty Japanese pg 109

“The coffee ain’t great, but the atmosphere has no pretensions” Doutor according to Matt Fargo in Dirty Japanese pg 143

“Video games are to Japan what tea is to Britain or war is to America”  Dirty Japanese by Matt Fargo pg 127

“Even the hot lunches served at the poorest elementary school in Japan are light years tastier than the shit that Americans eat. If you’re British, even homeless people in Japan eat better than you”  Dirty Japanese by Matt Fargo pg 145

“Speaking objectively, I have to warn you that Japanese pop music is relentlessly horrendous crap. This is a quantified fact, but it’s also one of the world’s great mysteries. I mean, Japanese visual arts are uniformly amazing, right? Japanese fashion is light years ahead… So why is J-Pop so unlistenable?” Dirty Japanese pg 103 Matt Fargo

“Like white reggae, but even more misguided”  J- Reggae, as described in Dirty Japanese by Matt Fargo pg 104
 “creepiness plus cuteness. Like a Tim Burton movie!” Gothic Lolita fashion, according to Matt Fargo in Dirty Japanese pg 118

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