Embracing Modernity

Woodblock print of Post-Meiji urban scene
Enso (Zen circle painting)
Cover of the book "Japanizing"
The term Japanizing (nihonka 日本化) connotes assimilation and correlates with the word Westernization. In contrast with Japanization, it refers to the ongoing incorporation and modification of exogenous elements, the mental and physical reactions being at the same time products of a certain attitude. More particularly, the term expresses the process of Westernization in regressive or progressive forms which may blur the relationship between exogenous [i.e., foreign] and endogenous [i.e., indigenous] structures or else make it more radical. Therefore, the word Japanizing has dynamic, not static, connotations. (Japanizing, 4)

What's the difference between Westernizing and Japanizing?

Enso (Zen circle painting)
Image illustrating the principle of "wakon yosai" (Japanese spirit, Western technology)
The ideologically motivated term wakon-yosai calls for the fusion of the Japanese spirit (wakon 和魂) with Western technology as a strategy of national self-assertion. ... This kind of fusion is regressive, given that the aim is to revitalize the national spirit (wakon), and therefore the cultural difference between exogenous and endogenous ways of thinking becomes more radical. The strategy of wedding the substance of Japanese spirit (wakon) with forms of Western knowledge (yosai 洋才) and using the result as an arsenal for cultural self-assertion is meant to overcome the West by drawing on the latter’s own political and economic resources. (Japanizing, 7-9)
painting of Kokugaku (National Learning) scholars
Kokugagu (National Learning)
Kanji for Magokoro (True Heart)
Motoori Norinaga

Self-Portrait by Motoori Norinaga
Enso (Zen circle painting)
Image representing Nihonjinron (Discussions of Japaneseness)
Bamboo page divider
Image illustrating the principle of "wayo-setchu" (The synthesis of Japanese and Western elements)
“Strictly speaking, the modern history of Japanese culture has generally been in line with the concept of wayo-setchu.” (Japanizing, 11-12)
Wayo-setchu entails mimesis. Under this progressive form of learning, imitation is seen as a way to create a new self from exogenous and endogenous elements. The basic mental attitude which enables such progressive synthesis or symbiotic coexistence is a hybrid consciousness: Disparate features are blended into a new unity (setchu) of products, thought patterns or modern life-styles, and this duality of Japanese and Western (wayo) is the foundation of innovation in Japan. (Japanizing, 14)
Poster for the 150th anniversayr of Japan Rail

Bamboo page divider
Japanese identity card (representing Japanese identity)
The potential for cultural creativity [in the case of wakon-yosai] is reduced in the interests of national self-assertion and remains restricted to a monologue with an idealized past. The concept wayo-setchu, on the other hand, represents a progressive form of cultural creativity, since here exogenous knowledge acts as a resource leading to new possibilities of defining oneself. Not a sense of reality that faces backwards, as with wakon-yosai, but rather the maximal realization of existing potential is the main concern. (Japanizing, 15)
Wakon Yosai version of Hokusai's Wave
Wakon Yosai: Wave of the Past
Woodblock print of Hokusai's Wave
Wayo Setchu: Wave of the Future
Wayo Setchu version of Hokusai's Wave
Bamboo page divider
Toyota Logo
Taichi Ohno
Toyota Production System
Toyota: Lean Manufacturing
Explanation of Toyota Production System
Mr. Isao Yoshino (our host in Nagoya)
Yoshino Isao (Nagoya Host)