Ten Ways The Japanese Do It Better

Time and time again, Japan has been handed a ball someone else made and scored a touchdown with it. Forget about "made in Japan", more like "made BETTER in Japan!" Want proof? Here are Ten Ways The Japanese Do It Better...

1) Home Audio: A Shocking Record of Success

Sony TR-55, the Walkman's GrandpaSony TR-55, the Walkman's Grandpa
"From little acorns, mighty Oaks will grow"... and for Japan's Sony, those seeds were named TR-55 and TR-610. The former was Sony's first successful commercial transistor radio, made with transistors of their own design licensed from Bell Labs and utilizing printed circuit boards, soon to become commonplace but innovative for the mid-fifties. The TR-610, which hit the US market in 1958 was the first transistor radio to break the 500,000 sales barrier. But hold on, what happened to the Regency TR-1, the world's first commercial transistor radio? Landing on American retail store shelves with a resounding thud in late 1954, the TR-1 was priced at $49.95 - a whopping $364 in 2005 dollars. Remember Regency? Me neither. Reliable, desirable products, reasonably priced... a mantra that led Sony and a host of other Japanese home electronics companies to industry leadership. (image via IDE Virtual Design Museum )

2) Home Video: Seeing is Believing

Sony Blu-ray: Doing Beta one BettaSony Blu-ray: Doing Beta one Betta
Much like the transistor radio, the video recorder was not invented in Japan. Thank goodness Sony and JVC decided to re-engineer the darned thing, though. The VRX-1000 Ampex introduced in 1956 used 2" wide tape and cost $50,000 - don't ask me what that is in today's dollars! The Great Format War of the late '70s resulted in better VCRs at lower prices, proving that a little good ol' American competition can spur Japanese companies on to even greater success in the marketplace. And so it goes... today, Sony's Blu-ray and the Toshiba/NEC backed HD DVD optical disc storage systems are battling it out for marketplace dominance. How to display the brilliant images being generated by these advanced players? Only the world's finest LCD and Plasma screens made by the likes of Sony, Panasonic and more! (image via AV-Land )

3) Cell Phones from the Future

Tokyo calling...Tokyo calling...
Ahh, but we love our cell phones... yet most Americans don't know what they're missing when it comes to mobile phone capabilities. Blame it on TRON... not the classic Jeff Bridges sci-fi flick, the common operating system that allows Japanese cell phones to seamlessly integrate with just about anything. Most Japanese cell phones incorporate digital cameras that take still and video images, include MP3 and MP4 players, use GPS technology and can function as videophones. They connect to the Internet, can access the "Edy" e-money service and act as bar code readers displaying information and advertising on the screen. Japanese cell phones are literally changing the way Japanese society works, through "keitai culture" or "mobile phone culture". (image via Japan Now )

4) Hybrid Cars Pass Gas... Stations

Toyota Fuel Cell Concept CarToyota Fuel Cell Concept Car
As befits a country with no natural oil or gas reserves, Japan is a world leader in hybrid vehicle technology. I'm not exaggerating when I say the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius have done more to drive hybrids into the automotive mainstream than any other vehicle made by any other manufacturer. Everyone else is just playing catch-up... and just when they get close, a new generation of fuel cell powered vehicles will leave them in the dust. (image via Toyota )

Jul 9, 2007
by Artan (not verified)

Blue Ray japanese???

Just because Sony helped in the development of the Blue Ray dvd, doesn't make it a japanese invention!

CD & DVD (Including Blue Ray) are Dutch inventions by Philips, where it used Sony as a partner that's all. HD DVD on the other hand IS a fully japanese invention, though not quite as good.

I like the article and I do agree Japanese do it better, but the credits for Blue Ray do not go to the Japanese - but to Royal Philips in Holland.

Jul 10, 2007
by Steve Levenstein
Steve Levenstein's picture

my point exactly...

First two sentences: Time and time again, Japan has been handed a ball someone else made and scored a touchdown with it. Forget about "made in Japan", more like "made BETTER in Japan!"

Jul 10, 2007
by ad (not verified)

they still don't have their

they still don't have their own army.  .. and its probably only because they have the time to spend on such inventions.

Jul 10, 2007
by random drifter (not verified)

You do know why they have no

You do know why they have no military, right? It's because they were forced to agree not to have one after WWII. If they had so much as handed a citizen an empty pistol and said he was a soldier, the US would have come in and nuked them. AGAIN.

Actually, I heard that the restriction was recently lifted, and that they do now have a military, it just sucks because it's the product of a couple of months of setup and such, rather than the 200+ YEARS that the US has had. Funny how such a time difference can matter, huh?

As for the whole research capability, the lack of a military is the major reason for their educational and scientific capabilities. They decided that, since they could not have a military power, they would conquer the world via knowledge and research. The majority of the budget that would have gone to military went instead to education. Amazing what a bit of history tells you.

Jul 10, 2007
by that one dude (not verified)

Your almost right.  The

Your almost right.  The Japanese do have a military.  The Japanese Self-Defense Force (JSDF).  They were barred from having a military capable of doing anything other than defending the nation (limited in size and resources).  But at the same time we obligated ourselves to helping them in a time of need.  The were never entirely without a military and even if they were there would only be a 60 year difference between us (the end of WWII) not 200.  Also they didn't intend to conquer the world with science and knowledge.  But since they had a restriction on their military the next logical place for the government to spend money was in financing the R&D in the private sector.  Thus the massive technological gains they made post WWII.  

Jul 11, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)


You are right. I live i Belgium and their is always a rivalery between the belgians and the dutch but i still heva to give Philips credit here. Philips is a world class manufacterer of electronics and will hopefully continue to be. I personally have never had a complaint about any Philips product what so ever and i own a dozen Philips products.

Dec 4, 2007
by Anonymous Tyo (not verified)

Excellent work!

Wow, that was lots of fun!

Mar 11, 2008
by Anonymous


I totally agree with you with the anime thing =D. The shows are great, and the art and manga art are spectacular.

May 10, 2008
by Anonymous


so if japan hasn't had an army for decades, and have spent all this time working an the environment and science. now that the ban is supposedly lifted, would it be imprudent to say that Americans should be afraid of them?? i mean the only thing Americans do is build their military forces. but what would happen when Japanese brains are let loose on weapons? whoohoo! go japan!