Creativity in Japanese schools

“It seems to me that juku are sending a message to kids that they really don’t have to pay attention at regular school because they’re going to learn the same thing at juku later. That’s one problem. Another is that Japanese children aren’t rewarded for independent thinking. I remember going to class one time and the teacher was saying, ” Okay, everyone, let’s be more creative. What are the things you need to do to be creative? Write them on the blackboard.

Ezra Vogel, “What happened to number one?” in Reimagining Japan


Kumon means suffering btw. The face tells it all.

Juku is basically tuition centers, or cram schools for entrance examinations. These criticisms can be applied to the Singapore education system as well. It is hard to inculcate creativity though. There needs to be a deeper change in culture in order to encourage creativity.

More about how tuition centers are ridiculous some other time.


Japanese societal pressures at home

An eerie family drama, it became even more so by being staged at the father’s graveside in a gesture of filial piety or atonement for the daughter’s inability to carry out her responsibilities. Pushing her mother in her wheelchair to the cemetery at dusk, she opened a bottle of hydrogen sulphide she’d concoted and brought there to kill them both. But while the daughter died, the mother survived albeit in a far worsened condition, having spend the night in a blinding rain before being discovered the following morning. … Never complaining nor letting on that she’d sunk into such despair, Yukiko had seemed the consummate caregiver: selfless, cheerful, compassionate – the perfect daughter. Too good to be true until the goodness wore (her) out.

Precarious Japan, Anne Allison



Ah yeah now I remember the name of the book and author for the previous post on Japan

Should Japan accept more immigrants?

“The current system is cleverer than it seems. The thinking underlying the system is: “We don’t give a lot of work permits, so foreigners work illegally, and if they get in trouble we can send them home very easily.” So foreigners come over as students — fairly smart people come in — and they work illegally. They probably get lower pay because they are illegal; and if they do anything wrong, they get sent home. It’s unfair, and it’s illegal, but it’s a better system than people will acknowledge openly because they don’t like to admit that they are doing things illegally. Some say Japan must admit many more immigrants. I’m not persuaded that’s absolutely necessary.”

Ezra Vogel, “What happened to number one?” in Reimagining Japan


JK that’s not Japan. Construction in most places (outside of Singapore and maybe Dubai) is still done by locals mostly. 


The problem of illegal immigrants is like prostitution — something that is outwardly deplorable, but something that law enforcement has to turn a blind eye to because they serve a need. Sometimes, the two overlap.

The fundamental problem of Japan

“To me the fundamental problem Japan faces now is not the aging population or anything like that; the country needs a political system with the capacity to respond to effectively to problems in a long-term way. I think there was an elite community of talented people who, through the 70s provided coherence in planning for the future. This coherence ended in the 90s, when there was a collapse of parties. Japan hasn’t built the right political system to put things back together again.”

Ezra F. Vogel, “What happened to number one?” in Reimagining Japan



Ezra Vogel is a professor emiritus in Sociology at Harvard.

Reimagining Japan is a thick book (mainly because of its good quality glossy paper) edited by McKinsey, compiling articles from various influential figures.

I would also add that books written by huge consulting firms need to be taken with a pinch of salt, as they are often written with the intention of profiling their own clients and companies (and we often do not know who these clients are!). But since this is a compilation, I think each piece should be somewhat more credible.

Why loners kill people

Had he simply killed himself, as so many postings after the incident said he should have, Katou would not have been grieved or even missed. Only by killing someone else, as Akagi pointed out, could his life register in the national imaginary at all. To call attention to the ungrievability of his own life then, Akagi killed others who would be much more grieved than himself.

Unsourced – yeah sometimes I lose track of the author and title. It’s from some book on Japan (duh)

The obligation of a beautiful person

A beautiful person has a gift, just like a writer or a painter. It’s not something that’s given to everybody; it’s a special favour. But writers and painters have to work to develop their gifts, and so do you. That’s your duty. In a sense, you’re a kind of artist yourself, at least that’s the way I look at it. But at the moment, you’re neglecting your duty.

Natsuo Kirino, Out

A piece of gory dark fiction. This was a conversation between a pimp and a beautiful Japanese cabaret girl btw.