Japan was once the home of the world’s supply of schlock. They excelled in things you never thought you wanted, but they were everywhere. You may not remember miniature paper umbrellas for drinks and little wooden toys like yoyos or blocks—all “made in Japan.” There was a lot of this stuff, and it put the country on the export map for a long time, engendering major revenues. Now Japan is the home of hi tech innovation at its very best. The transformation in image has been astounding, and people look to the advanced country for the latest and greatest digital devices and technological advancements. You can count on Japan to be on the forefront of computers, phones, printers, and the like; but did you know they are also on the cutting edge of the design of everyday appliances from automated state-of-the-art toilets to computerized bathroom scales.
For the most mundane of purposes, manufacturing in Japan has produced ways for people to keep tabs on their weight and personal hygiene—all in one small room of their home. They have set a new standard and the world is barely catching up. You can get every measurement possible on your bathroom scale including BMI and body fat. There is also a composition analyzer. Your personal porcelain throne adjacent to the scale will satisfy the seated with a system of hoses and nozzles that massage as they clean and dry. No degree of comfort is sacrificed with the new generation of toilets.
Who doesn’t love Japanese hi tech! Its bullet trains levitate off the ground and its robotics are mind-bending in their extraordinary practicality. (Watch for facsimiles in anime.) They invented the compact disc player and the portable CD. Cameras, pocket calculators, the electric rice cooker, and the videocassette recorder go to Japan’s credit. Where would we be without Blu-ray, flash memory, and the quartz wrist watch?
The Japanese are also video game inventors of the first order—witness Sony PlayStation and Nintendo. Their industry dominates in sales and popularity. In another vein, their animation reflects a modern world gone mad with martial arts, military machinations, witches and monsters, and magical realms. There is nothing as clever or enticing. Everything else pales or is a poor second sister. You should pay attention to Manga Movies like Spirited Away, Akira, and Howl’s Moving Castle. You should know about Porco Rosso, Ponyo, and the Animatrix. You have hours of enjoyment in store. More and more people in the US are getting on board with Japanese anime and its fantasy stories that appeal to young and old alike. If you are a newbie fan, you will need months to catch up.
It all comes down to an extraordinary culture that has permeated the world with marvelous entertainment opportunities as well as utilitarian devices. Japanese inventions have become staples of modern life. I cannot imagine the world without them. We can only look forward to another round of items that will become necessary tools of our lives.