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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Internationalization - A Question

If there's one thing the people of Japan have to ask themselves, it's whether they actually have anything in common with one another.

By that I mean: does a person living in Tokyo have anything in common with someone living in the do-inaka (boondocks) of rural Japan?

Or, does that same Tokyo-ite or Osaka person have more in common with someone living in the big city of London? Paris? Mexico City? Germany? Sao Paulo? Munich?

Forgetting the color of the skin and the language for a moment - does a person living in Tokyo have more in common with fellow urbanites than he or she does with the rural farmers or even the folks who live in small towns?  

The rush-rush-rush and the crush-crush-crush of the urbanite… the long, daily commutes, the concrete jungle… versus the small-town person who takes 10 minutes or less to get to work, or works in a small-town grocery store, or city office where the strains of life are not as great.

I have friends in Japan who live in Tokyo who have said there is no way in hell they would want to visit my boring old hometown of Ohtawara-shi in Tochigi-ken… too sleepy… too boring… too dull…

And yet, having lived in Toronto most of my life, going to Ohtawara was like a breath of fresh air because I was able to get a breath of fresh air! I could ride my bike 10 kilometers to a school and not have to go onto a highway and die. I could feel the wind at my back and the sun on my face. I could feel alive… rather than the anger I feel every day as I leave work at 4PM and get home an hour later. Ten years ago, the trip took 30 minutes. Traffic. If I took our public transportation system, it would take me 90 minutes.

But what about the Tokyo-ite… big businessman… isn't it quaint when you go to a small town and listen to the hick locals butcher the Japanese language? Daijobu-da!

I have seen farmers (and hung-out with them) from India, Pakistan, Nepal and more visit the Asian Rusal Institute in Ohtawara-shi to learn Japanese farming techniques because when it comes to farming, they all speak the same language. 

Do you really share much with the barbers, the farmers… the shopkeepers and bicycle repairmen that dot the small town landscape… can you talk about your business with them? Are you really all Japanese, when the culture you share is divided by economic classes and social structures?

Don't you share more with the educated businessman in London, Hamburg, St. Petersburg or Stockholm?

Does a metropolis create a culture that stretches far beyond national borders and language barriers?

Just wondering…
Andrew Joseph


  1. Actually, the ARI is in Nasushiobara, dude-san!

    1. Didn't Ohtawara do a nuclear strike on Nasushiobara back in '06 claiming it for themselves? They plan on putting a flag down claiming the territory in about 100,000 years after the radioactive fires die down.

      Thanks! I really thought the place was in the northern extremes of Ohtawara! I had no idea I was crossing a border!

    2. crossed the line!!!