On Japan, the culture of used in

I find Japan’s treatment of new and old objects interesting. OK, that statement isn’t illuminating in any way; what do I mean?

Well, here’s one example. When I was studying authenticity, I noticed that different cultures will define “authentic” differently. Sure, that should be pretty obvious. But take a look at specifics: In the US, an “authentic” building usually means a building that was constructed at a certain point in time and hasn’t been renovated or changed beyond it’s original instantiation. In Japan, that’s not necessarily the case- many buildings have a far shorter lifespan then their western counterparts, and they were designed that way. Some temples are rebuilt regularly as part of their life-cycle, and that rebuilding is part of what makes the temple “authentic.”

The used market is also interesting. My wife and I have been very interested in Japan and Japanese culture for some time- it’s how we met, and she even lived there for a year through the JET program. That was a great experience, and we’ve both been part of various Japanese lists for many many years. I got to visit her when she was there for about a month. And in our limited experience, confirmed by some of our Japanese friends, the used market in Japan is very different from the used market in the US. Used materials are valued differently. I’m not quite sure how differently, but I can say that since we are perfectly happy with used materials we came back with suitcases and boxes and boxes of manga, all dirt cheap, because people didn’t really buy that particular item all that often in her area. The used market did exist, but it wasn’t quite the same. To some extent, it’s been explained to me that this is partly the result of the good economy Japan had some time ago- when the economy had a downturn, the used market started gaining strength again. That makes sense to me, but at some point I’ll need to actually do some research in the area. ^_^ I’m sure Holly will correct me somehow if she ever takes a look at this as well. ^_-

I’ve been seeing various stories about the electrical applicances in Japan recently, first on Japanese-centric tech sites, then Engadget, then on Game Politics, and most recently on BoingBoing. I commented elsewhere, but I wanted to note that this isn’t really a new law or a total surprise- even the link from BoingBoing with the English text of the law shows that the law was passed in 2001- it’s the list of items that would be affected by the law that’s new. Mutant Frog probably has the best links and description about this situation, which isn’t quite as dire as people thought. I have a decided “eh” feeling about the subject- the law seems to have passed more as a consumer safety issue rather than a handout to corporate greed. Slashdot has a pretty good discussion on the Japanse law, in which commentors note that the consumer safety issues are real (in that electronics that don’t meet those standards could kill you), and that many other places have passed similar laws (like the EU).

To some extent, there’s a similar situation with automobiles in Japan. The older a car is, the more expensive it is to get it insured and pay for additional fees that are mandatory with cars, which include periodic checks (shaken). The older the vehicle is, the more shaken is, and these are not insignificant costs. That being said, their old cars tend to run really well. ^_^


  1. Michael Bartsch said,

    July 3, 2007 @ 4:02 pm

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  2. Area 51 Marketing said,

    August 1, 2007 @ 4:32 am

    The people in Japan are pretty fascinating when it comes to things like that. They develope themselves and, as you describe it, develope their environment along the way. I like that attitude.

    It’s like we all should live. As you are striving towards more, you should become more. Changing the way your environment is at that moment, does really help in that.

    Thanks for the insight. Interesting article indeed! And food for more I would say…

  3. Area 51 Marketing said,

    August 2, 2007 @ 2:24 am

    What kinda car do you have Carlos :o)? I bet a old Jap, huh 😉

  4. Okinawa said,

    September 15, 2007 @ 3:43 am

    I love Japan, and myself and my wife are actually living in Japan where we met also!

  5. Shawn Bishop said,

    February 1, 2008 @ 1:28 pm

    My wife is from Hawaii and speak fluent Japanese. We’re going to Tokyo in the fall!

  6. Anime said,

    November 20, 2008 @ 9:32 am

    I love japanese culture, and I love anime Videos too 🙂

  7. lorne campbell said,

    December 8, 2008 @ 9:04 am

    One of my friends used to have a K class Japanese car, small bright red softop Suzuki Cappuccino, she was a hot blonde so wherever she went she was noticed.

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