J a p a n e s e    C u l t u r e

Modern and Traditional Japanese Culture: The Psychology of Buddhism, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Manga, Anime and Shinto. 在日イギリス人男性による日本文化論.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Positive Present

Positive Present by timtak
Positive Present a photo by timtak on Flickr.

This wall hanging is a sort of poem or sooth which explains why Japanese people may not need to set concrete goals. It reads:

If we try our hardest today, then a little happiness will surely, surely be waiting for us tomorrow.

Many Japnaese people prefer to use this philosophy of effort in the present and leaving the future to itself. They anticipate that their future will be happy - a desirable future - due to the way in which they involve themselves the present to create what Naoko Sonoda calls a "Positive Present (mae muki na genzai)."

Due to the influence of Western culture, Japanese are being encouraged to set goals. This has advantages in that it allows for more control, but the excercise of control will enevitably result in some reduction in ability to make the most of the present. Very few Japanese seem to be aware of the downside of importing Western "goal-orientend" styles of management, education, or human behaviour.

This philosophy is not the same as "Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die." It often involves a lot of hard work. This philosophy is perhaps more similar to "keep the ball rolling," recommending an ongoing attempt to keep ones life in motion towards unplanned, yet desirable events.

The theory was partly inspired by the management theory of Misumi Juuji who suggested that managers have two fundamental roles: to set goals and measure and reward goal achievement (performance), to create a positive working environment (maintenance). The above image would motto of the latter, environmentally focused "maintenence" managed workplace.

The wall hanging above was found in the toilet of a Japanese restaurant perhaps to encourage cleanly toilet behaviour.

This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.