Quote Japan

Interesting, odd, outrageous or informative quotes about Japan

Jonathan Rauch- quotes from “The Outnation”

“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

“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

“Until I came to Tokyo, I had never known the joys of small-town life” The Outnation, pg 81

“if I were pressed to give a single word which I associated with Japan, the word would be: cozy. Cozy relationships, cozy deals, cozy lives- coziness as a national aspiration. Even I, the foreigner, was folded in the security blanket, and I liked it.” The Outnation pg 86

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