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  • Writer's pictureHirokazu Kobayashi

What are Japan's selling points? *

Updated: May 21

Hirokazu Kobayashi

CEO, Green Insight Japan, Inc.

Professor Emeritus and Visiting Professor, University of Shizuoka


No matter how you look at Japan, its characteristics seem high. First, let's look at it statistically. The average life expectancy of Japanese people ranks among the highest in the world. Although there is no single factor behind this, food culture significantly contributes. Among animal foods, there are many fish, and there is a good balance with plant foods. In addition, tea, which is a part of culture, is also effective for health. From an industrial perspective, Japan adopted Western technology at the beginning of the Meiji era in the mid-1800s and, in less than 30 years, gained the national power to compete with Russia, a powerful country at the time. Although this may be due to the foresight of the predecessors who were active during the Meiji Restoration, it is thought that the foundation was the high level of knowledge and technology cultivated by ordinary people during the Edo period. Culturally, it is said that there was no written language until the beginning of the 700s when the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki were written. Still, from ancient times, the ancient script and the high artistry of Jomon pottery and clay figurines testify to an advanced civilization. The world's oldest full-length romance novel, The Tale of Genji, was written during the Heian period, which blossomed in the 1000s and is in sharp contrast to Europe, which was largely stagnant culturally during this period. Japan dominated the world in producing automobiles and home appliances, but now its historical heritage, food culture, anime, and so on are being disseminated overseas, including in the form of inbound tourism.

I want Japanese people to know about this kind of charm of Japan, and I want to convey this to visitors from overseas, including international students. To this end, starting in 2016, the University of Shizuoka has been preparing a lecture called "Japanology" for university students. Titles included geography and climate, population decline and aging society, dialects, social changes, economics, Japanese tea, medicinal herbs, and the world's longest healthy life expectancy, and lectures were given in English by professors specializing in each topic. Because it was an elective subject, it was not popular with Japanese students, but it received compliments from outsiders. Considering this, I thought of using this topic as a course for luxury cruise passengers calling at Shimizu Port and distributing it over the Internet as on-demand teaching material. We aim to commercialize it shortly.

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