Originally Posted by antkm1
Since, from what i've always heard, technology is always about a couple years ahead of everyone else in Japan; I am a bit taken off-guard by this news. I'm surprised that the Japanese haven't come up with something similar to the iPad already...
Japan, as a society, is not all about advanced technologies. Many of their latest technologies actually started from Western technologies. I was told that in the late 50;s-60's or perhaps even 70's Japanese cars and other products were considered second rate. In the early 50's Japan economy was still coming out from their role in the war.
Now, if you go back to Japanese culture, their art, their literature, their architecture, and gardens -- it is all about the search and goal towards perfection, beauty and simplicity. Food is not just for eating but also to be admired for its visual presentation. The tea ceremony, Look at the simple Japanese Garden and its symbolism.
If you try to read about the creation of each Japanese samurai (the sword), you will find that is one one of the ultimate attempts to achieve perfection. This is true also with Japanese basketry. Read Japanese :"Haiku".
I could go on, but you have to immerse yourself into the culture, a foreigner looking into a society and culture that is much older.
If you ever go or try to read about Japan and its people, do not just limit yourself to what Westerners consider as true Japan -- the freezing of a country and a people to its past.
It is true that today, Japan is quite modern and Westernized, especially its younger generation. And like other younger people in any other part of the world, they dress and use all sorts of gadgets used by young people in Western societies. Right now, the vogue is American. After all, the US remains "center of the world" since the early 20fh Century. This may change this milenium.
Incidentally, it was a "Black Ship" from America that begun the re-introduction of isolationist Japan to Western culture and realize as a nation Western power.
From what I gathered interacting with many Japanese for years, mostly here in the US, however modern Japanese people are still steeped into their past and tradition. I remember a postdoctoral fellow from Japan. He had to bring all his tableware from Japan because the ones he found here were not good enough. Not all of them are perfectionists though.
The thing is, the aesthetics of Steve Jobs/Apple have a lot in common with the aesthetics of Japanese culture. Read some the comments of famous Japanese designer, and they will tell you that. If you are familiar with Scandinavian architecture and furniture, especially Finish, there are also similariies in their aesthetics. When I saw some places in Switzerland, Netherlands and Germany you will also find some aesthetic simplicity that they share with other people. Even in America (not just the US), look at some Native American art. and the integration of their life to the earth and the ecosystem.
I do not know really if Steve Jobs has been as contemplative during his younger days. But one thing he is, he strive for perfection -- what I call the search for "the good, noble, beautiful and true" which happened to be shared by a number of cultures of the world, including ancient Greece.
And Steve Jobs surrounds himself with those trying to achieve perfection -- be it in the design or the technology itself.