The Crap-shoot

“Lazy people may even fantasize about how nice it would be to have more, but they don’t want to do more.” ~S. Ross Ingram, from Wealth Mentality

By Richard Posner

Have you ever said or heard someone say, “That’s too expensive.  It’s a rip off”?   I’m sure you have.  

Have you ever seen someone slyly flip over the price tag of an item they feel is likely way over their budget, and when they see it is pricey for them quickly shuffle away to the bargain basement for common folks’ stuff?  I’m sure you have.

Quite often we condition ourselves to be agreeable.  When the people who share a notion of expensiveness look at each other, often they meekly nod in agreement in order to mask what their individual problem often is…

They – or one of them – can’t afford it!  The problem is often not that the dinner, dress, car or house are outrageously priced, but that they don’t have the funds to afford it.  Someone else does, or that company will soon be out of business.

In the same way, I am perplexed when people write to me and ask me to work for nothing to help them do business in Japan.  They want to know a good supplier or buyer, but in the section of my form for such services they say they are unwilling to invest even a dime or ruble.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I set up my website to provide a wide range of business and cultural information based on 4+ decades in Japan, for FREE!  It may not look stellar, but it was and is a work of love.  It may not look like much, but I have given gratis to all my site visitors a no-cost forum for people who want to buy, sell and do business with Japan or with the Japanese.  Have you looked at it?

Moreover, this blog is a gift to everyone who ever entertained doing business here and wanted to know about the opportunities and people engaged in doing business in Japan.

I hope you see my desire to be of service.  But please don’t treat your business nor mine with a crap-shoot mentality.  Nothing in this world is free.  You must give your time, your heart and sometimes your money to insure your future.  

Japan is a prosperous country because most people understand that there is always a price to be paid for success and happiness.  If you are unwilling to invest, then Japan (and many other places) are far beyond your reach.  

Let’s work together to penetrate this market.  Going it alone here is a fool’s way.  Write to me and discuss your dreams.  I’m sure there is a way we can work together for astounding success.

Self-Effacing Japanese People

By Richard Posner

Accepting compliments proudly yet graciously is not a strong suit of the Japanese people.  They – and I don’t take the use of  they lightly – will usually deflect or deny their efforts or skills when praise is given.

It is not for me to judge the good or bad of the Japanese character because it serves no purpose.  It just is.

Yet if you want to live or work here, you must understand this societal modesty for what it is:  an attempt to suppress one-upmanship in order to insure stability and cooperation in all aspects of life.

While I would tend to agree with this notion on a personal level and I do practice it in my own stealthy way in Japan, the golden rule for success here is to develop sincere modesty and deflect praise to the person giving it.

While that is a hard pill to swallow for many readers of this blog – and even though this self-effacing character is slowly dissipating among the young here – by and large you will do monumentally better in all affairs with a little bit of humility.

After all, you become better, more efficient, and more successful by learning how to place the blame on yourself when things go wrong while sharing the victory with all players when things are going swimmingly well.

That might be a bitter pill to swallow, if you like to toot your horn and bathe in others’ praise of you, but keep your eye on the ball.  The ball is successful communication and bundles’ of lovely cash in the bank as well. 

You Are A Friend, Teacher or Whatever Until …

By Richard Posner

“True goodbyes are the ones never said or explained.”
~ Anon

Japanese people can be extremely warm and accommodating to a stranger who becomes their sensei (teacher), or any other authority figure foisted upon them through proper channels.

You can teach them, boss them, and share feasts for years with them, but one day they decide that you are disposable and they disappear from your landscape like a thief in the night.

From their perspective, they are avoiding confrontation, explanation, and the uncomfortable feelings associated with parting ways.  To many westerners, however, this Japanese approach to difficult separations is feeble and insulting.

What you must learn the hard way if you live in Japan any length of time is that you are either in the group and protected or outside the group and easily disposed of on a whim.

Ironically and quite surprisingly, the Japanese are just as cold and calculating with their own tribe.  The myth that Japanese companies offer lifetime employment and a family-like setting has been a boldfaced lie for a long time.

Most corporations used to carry dead-wood employees until 62 or so.  Many now strip parasites (perhaps rightfully) of their titles in their mid fifties, then slightly to drastically reduce their wages, and finally offer a somewhat generous -though deceivingly not optional – early retirement buyout.

Most of those targeted quietly retire early rather than face humiliation in the workplace.  They may have significant savings, if their company is doing well, but they have lost their self-confidence to be somebody other than a lapel-pin loyalist to a corporate slave master.

The good news is that more Japanese are waking up to the painful reality that lifetime employment is a Faustian choice they needn’t make. 

There are alternatives to being a blind follower of a bankrupt, outdated, unworkable system that will leave many poor and disillusioned in the years to come.

We must believe in ourselves – our skills and ability to find and exploit opportunities – without depending on a crumbling, socialized corporate structure. 

That awareness in our self-worth will be the key to our survival and prosperity in the next generation.

When You Fall Down Seven Times…

By Richard Posner


Stand up eight times.  I came across this old Japanese proverb in a karate blog.  It caught my attention because I can relate to it…and probably you can too.

Nothing under the sun is perfect, but we do have a choice to either accept things for what they are and move forward or grumble about every petty and not-so-petty challenge or unfairness in our lives.

The former will allow us to run to daylight; the latter will stir us into a stew of perpetual failure and unhappiness.

The next time you reminisce about youthful heartbreak and despair, remember one point — You survived!   And nobody in this present moment (you should be living in) cares an amoeba second about what your misfortune may have been.

In fact, if you incessantly tell people about the good old days or the bad old days, they will label you a sad relic incapable of being resurrected.  They will naturally move away from you and move toward people and ideas cherishing life.

Living in the present moment is exhilarating because it is within our grasp.  It is a time zone that challenges us to take action to make this world – through our unique presence – a bigger and better place because we passed through.

Times are tough, we hear over and over again.  But the truth is that character is not built when everything is going hunky-dory. 

Sometimes Japanese stoicism makes me feel that their citizens are indifferent to and enamored from experiencing pain.  It makes me feel that maybe they never ponder anything philosophical and do live more in the present moment than many of their westerner counterparts.  In other words, maybe they are racially superior.

But then there is the dark side of giggling indifference and vapid pursuit of material things here…the more than thirty thousand suicides in Japan each year.  They scream of a society that is constipated with worry and stress unspoken and uncorrected.

Stepping back from the rush of events threatening to swallow us up is essential for sanity.  That’s why professors with tenure get a sabbatical.  In that time off they can explore new avenues which can help them better define who they are in the scheme of things and how they can best contribute to humankind.

We all deserve and must demand time to reflect.  Once we have done that, we can stand for the eighth time and never look back again.

Give this theory a whirl and see whether your life isn’t percolating within an hour.