10 Things to Emulate from Japan


A few years ago, I was spending some time in India for work. After a busy week concluded, I had one remaining day to explore the city of Bangalore (or Bengalaru as it is supposed to be called.) I saw the dichotomy that comes with a rapidly emerging nation: High-tech development juxtaposed with third-world squalor. While walking through a market, I came across what appeared to be a cardboard advertisement. These 9×12 sheets were there for the taking. The title read “Ten things to emulate from the Japanese.” This was a few months after the earthquakes and tsunamis obliterated the Japanese coast. At first it reads like the old scout mottoes but it ultimately, speaks much deeper.

While I discovered this in India, the message seems easily targeted for Western culture, but it wasn’t. A lady working at the market told me the message was from the East – for the East – reminding them of virtues they already know but not to forget in spite of the rapid growth and industrialization. Even a nation as advanced as Japan can hold true to its moral roots.

And here they are . . .

1. THE CALM

 Not a single visual of chest-beating or wild grief. Sorrow itself has been elevated.

2. THE DIGNITY

 Disciplined queues for water and groceries. Not a rough word or a crude gesture.

3. THE ABILITY

 The incredible architects, for instance. Buildings swayed but didn’t fall.

4. THE GRACE

 People bought only what they needed for the present, so everybody could get something.

5. THE ORDER

 No looting in shops. No honking and no overtaking on the roads. Just understanding.

6. THE SACRIFICE

 Fifty workers stayed back to pump sea water in the N-reactors. How will they ever be repaid?

7. THE TENDERNESS

 Restaurants cut prices. An unguarded ATM is left alone. The strong cared for the weak.

8. THE TRAINING

 The old and the children, everyone knew exactly what to do. And they did just that.

9. THE MEDIA

 They showed magnificent restraint in the bulletins. No silly reporters. Only calm reportage.

10. THE CONSCIENCE

 When the power went off in a store, people put things back on the shelves and left quietly.

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