5) Robotics: Circuits MaximusREAL Hardbody
Ever seen one of those "Robocon" competitions on Japanese TV and wonder what those ingenious student geniuses do when they graduate from university? You guessed it, they go into business designing robots and trailblazing new robotic technology. Japan is a world leader in robotics and you'd better believe that ASIMO, the FT "female robot " and the metallic menagerie of robotic pets flying off toy shop shelves are the steely shape of things to come. (image via robo-garage )
6) School Lunches that Look Too Good to EatCute Cuisine
Remember the school lunches Mom used to make for you? PBJ sandwich and a banana in a brown paper bag? Day after day after day? If so, you didn't have a Japanese mother, because if you did you'd be bringing a different work of edible art for lunch every day of the week - and nobody would be impressed because they'd have their own beatific bento boxes. Truly, these women must each take a course in Zen and The Art of School Lunch Design. Michelangelo would envy some of these masterpieces! Creative mothers can use specially made utensils to turn hotdogs into octopi and carrot slices into flower blossoms. More ambitious Moms can even compete in "Character Bento" competitions lie the one recently held in Tokyo ("Frog on a Rainy day" was the winner). Food, glorious-looking food... how then do Japan's people stay so slim?? (image via Bento Corner )
7) Mass Transit: My Way or the SubwayCruisin' in Style
As a crowded, island country whose major cities are relatively close to one another, Japan seems made for mass transit - and mass transit has been made to fit the country's needs. Sleek "shinkansen" bullet trains have been ricocheting from city to city since 1964. The Tokyo Subway map resembles a double-helping of multicolored spaghetti slammed against a brick wall, but the system itself runs nerly flawlessly. Futuristic watercraft ply the waters of the Sumida and other rivers, and for those who must travel by car, there are Japan's legendary taxis. Privately owned, immaculately clean and bedecked in lace doilies, be prepared to smile as the driver opens the rear door for you - just by pushing a button. (image via Tokyo Water Cruises)
8) Waste Disposal: Trash to TreasureIn Japan, Garbage Rules
Cram 127 million people onto a chain of islands with a land area slightly smaller than California and garbage is going to be a big problem in short order. To deal with the constant flow of effluent generated by Japan's affluent society, authorities have instituted what may the world's most stringent waste management program. In fact, the myriad rules governing trash disposal are so complex it's led to people and companies illegally dumping garbage in rivers, forests and even the slopes of national icon Mount Fuji. Household garbage must be left out in clear plastic bags so the trash collectors can ensure your garbage has the right stuff, and if not... expect to see it back on your doorstep along with a stern lecture. Now that's what you call Trash Talk! (image via Insomnia )
9) Anime: In Toon with the TimesDrawing you in...
Japanese Anime is to cartoons today what Hanna Barbera was 40 years ago - in other words, it rules the roost. Things sure have come a long way since Speed Racer, including Pokemon, Sailor Moon, Yu-gi-oh, Naruto, Digimon, Touch, Akira, Gundam... and the list goes on and on. Anime's signature style, different from anything western eyes had seen before, has revitalized everything from cartoons to graphic novels (manga) to full length films - and don't get me started on the marketing. "Gotta catch 'em all!" indeed! (image via Digital Battle)
10) Pacifism: Giving Peace a Chance
Not your Father's Japanese Army
When is an army not an army? When it's a Self Defense Force. Specifically, Japan's military is organized into the Ground Self-Defense Force, the Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Air Self-Defense Force. Article 9 of Japan's post-WWII constitution states that "The Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes". Looks like it's working - North Korean nuclear saber-rattling notwithstanding, the JSDF has been a force for stability in the post-war world. As for nukes, Japan took the hit - twice - and won't be walking down that road again anytime soon. The recent use of JSDF personnel on humanitarian missions in Iraq and elsewhere also serves to show the world that Japan can use its military for good, and not just bankroll the efforts of other nations. (image via Time )
So there you have it, Ten Ways The Japanese Do It Better than pretty darn most anyone else, and I didn't even get into the toilets - so to speak. Now lest you believe that I'm Japan's biggest cheerleader, stay tuned... every silver lining has its cloud, so watch this space for Ten Ways The Japanese Do It Worse!
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Japanese Innovations Writer
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