I haven't written much about our visits to individual sites, mainly because we were shown little that related directly to my topic. However, I did come away with some observations about the Japanese attitude towards consumers.

Adult Americans seem to have a fear of being perceived as liking things considered by our culture to be "for children." For instance, in Japan and Europe comic books, graphic novels or manga, whatever they are called, are considered to be fit reading material for adults. In the United States reading comic books is considered by the bulk of the populace to be embarrassingly child-like. The American culture, such as it is, likes to take itself seriously. This may be our inherited sense of inferiority to our European ancestors, but the Japanese do not suffer from this. They use cartoon-like iconography on street signs and have a love of bright colors and all things playful. This was especially visible in our trip to Fujitsu, where we saw demonstrations of colorful imaginary characters interacting with adults and children alike. I cannot even begin to comment on the content of Japanese television, which must be seen to be believed.

Perhaps what impressed me most was that the Japanese appear to be less interested in making more money (although they certainly are competitive in that area) than they are in creating a superior culture and quality of life for themselves. I believe Americans could use a little more of that attitude.

Published: March 1996; WTEC Hyper-Librarian