The role of technology in postmodern Japan
Adopt, adapt, adept.
Throughout history, the Japanese have followed this three-step approach to localizing and improving foreign ideas to fit within their cultural milieu. This tradition of refinement has created a culture that is reflective of the world, yet uniquely Japanese.
We explore the role of technological innovations in shaping (and being shaped by) Japanese culture, examining how combinations and clashes between tradition and modernity have repeated in Japan’s modern history.
Goals and Objectives
Learn how Japan has leveraged technological innovation within its own cultural patterns to accelerate its economic development.
Learn how the exponential rate of technological development has impacted Japanese society.
Evaluate the ways in which Japan is attempting to utilize technology to resolve different social issues.
Inspire students to engage in thoughtful consideration of the ways in which they currently utilize technology.
We explore Japan’s famous bullet trains, the most efficient mass transportation system in the world. The unique ‘shinkansen culture’ demonstrates both Japan’s technological prowess as well as the synergy created through mass adherence to behavioral rules.
Japanese telecommunications giant SoftBank has designed Pepper, the world’s first ‘emotional humanoid robot. The inspiration for the movie “Frank and Me”, Pepper provides an illustration of one potential pathway for our future.
We tour the factory of the world’s largest car manufacturer, witnessing the impressive blend of technology and manpower in the production line and learning about the Kaizen philosophies.
Otaku culture—a fantastic virtual world of manga and anime crossing into the ‘real world’—has become an international phenomenon. We explore the streets, shops, arcades and performance spaces of Akihabara, learning about the modern “Cool Japan” era and considering how Otaku exemplifies both the positive and negative impacts of technology on society.
Professional sumo wrestlers live in communal “stables” where all aspects of their lives are dictated by tradition. The unique experience of visiting a stable requires students to adhere to strict rules of behavior, providing the perfect context for discussing how adherence to order and politeness are reflected within Japanese culture.
Led by a Japanese monk, students engage in Zen meditation sessions Afterwards, we visit the Fukagaw Fudodo temple, an active temple with daily re rituals (Goma), demonstrating the contrasts between Japan’s tradition- driven past and technology-driven present.