September 10, 2012

"Jiro Dreams of Sushi"

This is a documentary from last year about an 85-year-old sushi chef whose ten-seat restaurant in a Tokyo subway station has Michelin's top rating of three stars. (Here's Tyler Cowen's review of the economics of this $300 per dinner sushi bar.) Most of the movie consists of people telling you that Jiro's sushi is the best and about how hard Jiro works. The subtitles are in tiny white type and all six guys who work in the restaurant are wearing white sushi chef smocks, so it's pretty illegible.

You don't actually learn much from the documentary about why Jiro's sushi is so good, perhaps because Jiro is a crafty old bastard who isn't giving any tips away to American documentarians for free. The only lesson I can remember is Jiro explaining that when he started in the sushi business 75 years ago, they only massaged the octopus for 30 minutes, but now at his place they always massage the octopus for 40 to 50 minutes. So, all you aspiring sushi chefs out there, listen up: Massage your octopus longer.

The documentary is really upbeat, but it's probably more memorable when viewed as a nightmarish comedy about Jiro's 50-year-old son, who has been working for his father for the last 31 years, with no end in sight.

There are various interviews with the wholesalers of fish and rice, who all deal only in tiny quantities of expensive, high quality, and they've all been selling to Jiro for decades, and they only sell their best stuff to Jiro because only he can do justice to their perfect rice. It's all very cozy. It reminded me of articles I used to read decades ago in the business press explaining why American companies could never get a toehold in the Japanese market, despite extremely polite assurances from the Japanese government that all impediments to American firms would be swept away posthaste. 

The Japanese, I guess, just like being Japanese.

By the way, according to Wikipedia, Japan has more Michelin three starred restaurants (32) than any other country, even France (26). America is 3rd with 10, then Germany with 9. Kyoto has as many three-starred restaurants (7) as New York City, while Chicago has one and L.A. zero. 

Now, it's possible that Michelin is tossing out stars in Japan to pump up its brand in that market. Or, there is this theory that whenever you read about how the Japanese economy has been so horrible for the last 22 years, which is all the time, that's what the Japanese want you to believe. Back in the 1980s, everybody believed that the Japanese were going to buy up the whole world, so they gave the Japanese a lot of grief, such as putting quotas on car imports, forcing them to open plants in America. But then their bubble burst in 1990, and now you never hear about the Japanese anymore, except about how tragic their economy is and they can only afford $300 sushi dinners.

72 comments:

DaveinHackensack said...

Coincidentally, I just watched this on Netflix a few hours ago. Agree with everything you've written here, from the lousy subtitles to the paucity of explanations for why the sushi is so good (beyond the extra octopus massaging the high quality fish and rice the dealers save for Jiro, and that Jiro's shop cooks its rice under higher pressure than anyone else).

The funniest part was Jiro's comment about why he told his younger son he couldn't go home again, and how parents who aren't as hard-assed as him in that regard are the reason why their kids are failures.

I've had the same thought about the seeming contradiction of a country with such an allegedly awful economy having the most 3 star Michelin restaurants.

Anonymous said...

I have eaten at Jiro and sampled quite a bit of food in Japan. A 3 star in Japan is legit. The Japanese make better italian food than the Italians.

wren said...

I have enjoyed amazing French, Italian, Greek, and of course Japanese food not only in Tokyo, but in provincial areas of Japan too.

I am not surprised by those stars.

At first, I couldn't believe how good things would taste even in some hole in the wall coffee shop in some small town train station, but later I learned that there was a lot more MSG in things where you might not expect it.

Maybe that is fooling the French. ;-)

stari_momak said...

"a nightmarish comedy about Jiro's 50-year-old son, who has been working for his father for the last 31 years, with no end in sight."

The Prince Charles of sushi!

dearieme said...

A Japanese friend gave my wife some instruction on buying rice. It's a serious business.

Orthodox said...

How do the Japanese make such good ethnic food without importing the ethnic people? What is their secret?

Steve Sailer said...

"What is their secret?"

Probably something beyond American comprehension, such as foreign travel?

SFG said...

"How do the Japanese make such good ethnic food without importing the ethnic people? What is their secret?"

Discipline and hard work, I'd imagine.

I'm sure if you asked the ethnic people about the food, it'd be subtly catered to Japanese tastes--American Chinese food is a lot greasier than actual Chinese food.

Anonymous said...

Japanese have a quality fetish. They will often spend huge sums even when they have little to experience the highest of quality in one area of interest. For instance my boss lives in a shitty apartment and drives a shitty car, but has five figures invested in some high end sound system.

If they spend their money on "normal" things like sushi or clothes we make movies about it. If they spend it on figurine collections or some other nerdy thing we call them otaku. But its the same thing.

Anonymous said...

GDP doesn't measure quality of life. Back in the day Japan was like China is now - a huge amount of GDP is fixed asset investment. After 20 years of "stagnation" personal consumption has displaced fixed asset investment so life is better in Japan. If I recall correctly, real Japanese personal consumption grew something like 0.5x-1.0x while GDP was flattish (and home prices came down).

Anonymous said...

How do the Japanese make such good ethnic food without importing the ethnic people? What is their secret?

1- The Japanese have a long history of importing foods, technology, ideas and whatnot from overseas and then improving on it.
2- They make sure not to actually import the ethnic people, because once they get the hang of it the Japanese people can just do it better more consistently.

Seriously.

Anonymous said...

It's the oldest country so taking into account the number of retirees, the low growth economy seems to be going swell.

Anonymous said...

The secret is the otaku culture. The Japanese take obsession to extremes alien to us.

Anonymous said...

What is their secret?
I really don't agree. The traditional cuisine of the Japanese people (Japanese) is great. Their American food is not. If you want the best American food, you go to America.

Though the Japanese take on Portuguese food, Tempura, is delicious.

In general, I think it comes down to IQ and national proclivities. Who is better in the world than the Japanese at copying and improving the processes of other nations?

njartist said...

"How do the Japanese make such good ethnic food without importing the ethnic people? What is their secret?"
There aren't illegal aliens in the back cooking from barely understood recipes.

peterike said...

How do the Japanese make such good ethnic food without importing the ethnic people? What is their secret?

Buy a cookbook and follow the recipes.

Also, perhaps Japanese chefs spend time training at restaurants in France, Italy, etc. before returning home. But really, cooking is cooking. There's no ethnic magic to it. If you can cook French there's no particular reason you can't cook Japanese. It's just practice and -- the biggest "secret" -- getting good ingredients. It's amazing how much difference good produce makes, even for something like potatoes.

And I assume the Japanese don't fetishize ethnics like SWPL Americans do, the same kind who think the only impact of mass third-world immigration is that you get a "delicious" taco truck pulling up outside your office building.

Whiskey said...

Oh the economy is really, really bad and has been for twenty years or more. By bad I mean: manufacturing hollowed out, real income falling, net job loss not creation, etc. Despite super-low interest rates, propping up "zombie" corporations and banks, etc. Just like here.

The reason for the Michelin stars is that Japanese LOVE food; they created after all Iron Chef, and have whole "schools" that are over 500 years old on various types of regional cuisine. Rosanjin scholars (Rosanjin was an artist and gourmet) are no joke, and have no American/European equivalent.

But yes, the Japanese economy is terrible, just as the semi-employed "grass-eaters" who live slacker lives because there are no more new corporate jobs. An example of this is the remarkable fact that most disk drive manufacture and assembly takes place not in Japan, but Thailand, for Japanese disk drive firms like Hitachi.

Anonymous said...

"How do the Japanese make such good ethnic food without importing the ethnic people?"

For prestigious (Italian and French) foods they go overseas and train and train and train.

They used to just train at the grand cordon bleu type establishments in the 80's, but tastes have matured and expanded and now they train at provincial French and italian restaraunts as well, so some of the best regional European foods are now made in Japan by people who studied in Lyon or Bologna for 4 years and then applied the Japanese mastery of technique.

There are some immigrants who run things like Indian restaraunts, but without any family re-unification nonsense they are purely guest workers, who stay there as long as there is curry and naan to be made, but with no broader impact on the population.

For Chinese and Korean restaraunts, there are plenty of them already in the country from during the Empire, and they serve food which has been adopted to Japanese tastes. The Italian and Frnech restaraunts don't do the same adopting, and strive for quite rigorous authenticity.

Anonymous said...

and they only sell their best stuff to Jiro because only he can do justice to their perfect rice.

Now where have I heard about another ethnic group favoring members of their ethnic group before ...

Anonymous said...

Funny thing is Japan has refused to countenance mass immigration.
Britain, under that obnoxious New Labour maladministration adopted a full-blown open borders immigration regime, where basically the whole third world could come and show in Britain and be granted full citizenship rights.
'Clever' people at New Labour, 'The Economist' and the WSJ assured us that this was *the* key to never ending proserity and british econommic dominance over the defeated, deluded and xenophobic Japanese, it was Britain's very own perpetual motion machine in the back yard.
Only the chickens have come home to roost. Presently ALL Japanese economic indicators are a damn sight healthier than British ones - and they suffered a major natural catastrophe to boot.

stari_momak said...

"How do the Japanese make such good ethnic food without importing the ethnic people? What is their secret?"

"Something beyond American comprehension, like foreign travel"

Hey, that's part of the way a white mid-Western guy because the USA's most renown interpreter of Mexican 'alta concina'.

Nippon no Resutoran wa ii desu said...

Even a quarter century ago when I lived in Tokyo the ethinc food was uncannily accurate knockoffs.

The giveaway was that everything was done in an exacting Japanese style so ethnic foods like Chinese, Mexican or Middle Eastern food would be unnaturally precise and almost sterile. Something you would never find in the home countries.

A lot of good cooking is just excellent ingredients (which Japanese are sticklers for) just being well trained and precise to use them deftly.

Creativity is overrated in cooking, especially in the mass volume restaurant business.

Dad said...

I've been in Japan for the past 21 years and can attest to increasing Japanese affluence despite the stagnent economy. There are probably fewer people enjoying $300 sushi dinners as business has cut back on lavish entertainment. But the roads are better, and the general infractructure is so good now that it pretty much takes a 9.0 magnitude quake to mess with it.

The biggest change affecting ordinary people is improved housing. When I arrived in 1991 it amazed me to see people who were otherwise middle class living in apartments that even the poorest Americans would reject. But there isn't much of that pre-affluence housing stock left now.

Ex Submarine Officer said...

They are nuts about food in Japan.

The tube is filled with shows about food, for instance.

One sub-genre of this is what I call "Fish Shows". The show starts off like a Discovery sea life show about some species - habitat, mating, behavior.

Then it gets a little more sinister. The show travels to some little coastal village that specializes in catching said sea life. Lots of talk w/crusty fisherment about how to catch this species, maybe an outing on a boat.

Then a little bit of stuff about how it is packed up and sent off to Tsukiji or other places.

Then we cut to some chef demonstrating how to cook this sea life and the show winds up with the hosts taking a bite and their expression of thoughtful consideration transforming into one of great appreciation punctuated by a long "Soooo".

This appreciation of food extends into all sorts of areas of Japanese life, from train bento boxes to bar food and so forth.

It is pretty hard to reconcile this love of food with the very low, for and advanced country, rates of obesity on Japan.

As for sushi, a lot of Japanese who have been to the West will remark on how westerners consider sushi health food whereas they consider it sort of a treat, snack, or celebratory food. Maybe like hamburgers or something.

For every extreme sushi joint like the one in the movie, there are thousands of mom and pop sushi joints serving the enormous lunch trade or cheapo sushi in the convenience store (conbini). I have a tendency to pick this stuff up for lunch but if I do it too much my wife starts telling me I need to eat healthier.

Anonymous said...

Say what you will, good or bad, about Japan, but I'm pretty sure Japan will still be Japanese a 100 years from now.

God knows what America (and a number of other western countries) will be by then. Or if it/they, will even still be around.

Anonymous said...

I agree the Michelin stars are legit. Some of the one star restaurants I have been to were just amazing.

Anonymous said...

How do the Japanese make such good ethnic food without importing the ethnic people? What is their secret?

You just need the recipe.

Anonymous said...

Probably something beyond American comprehension, such as foreign travel?

Cooking has never been that prestigious in America. There has been more recently the rise of celebrity chefs, but that seems to mostly be about being on TV and being a celebrity in general, and there has also been the rise of locavorism, but that seems to be mainly about localism rather than cooking per se. WASPs were traditionally stereotyped as having no food in their refrigerators at home and being quite abstemious about food in general, so this goes way back in American culture.

Whereas in Japan, as in places like France, Italy, etc., cooks and chefs seem to be like respectable craftsmen.

Anonymous said...

Is interesting to see how Japan, South Korea and Taiwan were going to fare in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Raw cephalopods with a little mustard... It's funny how the Japanese have persuaded the pompous white guys who represent "haute cuisine" in the West that they have the best food in the world. A couple of Indian billionaires went to NoBu in NYC and, after the meal, promptly asked "now where shall we go for dinner"? Not everyone is as impressed...

Anonymous said...

The Michelin star thing in Japan is a hoax, lots has been written about this.

Auntie Analogue said...

It all sounds...fishy to me.

A theory: finding themselves immersed in Japanese cuisine that's alien to their diet, Westerners in Japan exaggerate that Italian, Greek, and other non-Japanese cuisines in Japan taste better than they taste in the U.S. because Westerners in Japan are desperate to find and enjoy non-Japanese cuisine - to enjoy cuisines more common in their American experience. Possible? One expects so.

Anonymous said...

"The Japanese make better italian food than the Italians."

Bullshit. Japanese put corn on their pizza and their beer tastes like piss water.

Anonymous said...

Japanese cooking of foreign foods is like Japanese playing of classical music. Note by note perfect but lacking in the real soul of the stuff.

Anonymous said...

Rich Japanese can afford $300 sushi, so that means Japan is well off? Rich South Africans can afford to eat sushi off white blondes on sports cars. Does that mean South Africans are well off? Rich Hindus live like gods and kings in India. So much of India if well off?

There are sectors in Japan that are still doing fine, but Japanese finance is a mess, and it's propped up only by vast savings of its people, but that cannot go on forever.
Also, the once mighty Sony has been eclipsed by the once lowly Samsung. There are few Japanese companies in the global top 50. When it comes to computers--the future--, Japan lags way behind. Japanese are good at making nifty hardware--but even on that score, Apple kicked its ass--, but Japanese software people are thirdrate compared to US Jews.
While the globalist class may be doing good in Japan, the vast majority of Japanese have not done well in the past 2 decades.

Dan said...

Japan is supposed to go bankrupt any day now. But half the cars on the road are Japanese and they are presently massive lenders to the US.

I do believe that Japan does have a pension crisis on its hand but they have huge nation savings to cash in, in the form of US Treasuries (rimshot).

Which we can only pay back using printed money (second rimshot).

Which results in a currency collapse for the US (long drumroll rising to final comedic rimshot).

Anonymous said...

The Japanese make better ethnic food than the ethnic people by studying it and practicing it and not tolerating failure or mediocrity.

Also, most "ethnic" food is PEASANT food, it was developed out of the necessity because the peasants did not have the means to buy fresh ingredients or much meat at all, etc. Spicy food is spicy to disguise the fact that the meat was rancid. It's very very easy to duplicate and even improve upon ethnic food when you are a high IQ person with access to capital.

DR said...

"I have eaten at Jiro and sampled quite a bit of food in Japan. A 3 star in Japan is legit. The Japanese make better italian food than the Italians."

Can't say I've tried Jiro, but I have eaten at several 3 Michelin star restaurants in Japan. They're certainly on the level with NYC/Europe.

Though not as good as the great Alinea in Chicago, which is certainly the best restaurant in the US and probably the world. Michelin is a far harder rater in Chicago than NYC.

Many 3/2 stars in NYC would only be 1 star in Chicago, and many 1 stars in NYC would never be rated in Chicago. So the phenomenon of different rating scales is certainly true.

beowulf said...

"there is this theory that whenever you read about how the Japanese economy has been so horrible for the last 22 years, which is all the time, that's what the Japanese want you to believe."

Yup.
"The strategy seems to have been particularly effective in Washington. Believing that you shouldn’t kick a man when he is down, chivalrous American officials have largely given up pressing for the opening of Japan’s markets. Yet the great United States trade complaints of the late 1980s — concerning rice, financial services, cars and car components — were never remedied."
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/opinion/sunday/the-true-story-of-japans-economic-success.html?pagewanted=all

Anonymous said...

there is this theory that whenever you read about how the Japanese economy has been so horrible for the last 22 years, which is all the time, that's what the Japanese want you to believe.

So the dumb goy/baka gaijin has been fooled again?

Porter said...

Listen up: Massage your octopus longer

I have been making the same entreaty to my wife for years. Finally this weekend she relented, agreeing to massage my octopus for the optimal duration. From personal experience, 50 minutes is overkill.

Anonymous said...

Spicy food is spicy to disguise the fact that the meat was rancid.

I've never understood this particular canard. Prior to refrigeration, meat was sold the same day the animal was slaughtered, and anything left over processed into items that would not spoil at room temperature (salami, pepperoni, jerkies, pemmican, etc).

Anonymous said...

Raw cephalopods with a little mustard... It's funny how the Japanese have persuaded the pompous white guys who represent "haute cuisine" in the West that they have the best food in the world. A couple of Indian billionaires went to NoBu in NYC and, after the meal, promptly asked "now where shall we go for dinner"? Not everyone is as impressed...

Actually it makes sense that Japanese cuisine would appeal as one of the foreign, exotic cuisines of choice to the arbiters of haute cuisine in the West. Japanese cuisine is not very spicy, especially for an Asian cuisine. Japanese cuisine looks very exotic but it can be quite palatable to Westerners because it tends to lack the extreme spiciness of many foreign cuisines.

Anonymous said...

While the globalist class may be doing good in Japan, the vast majority of Japanese have not done well in the past 2 decades.

Well if the Japanese majority haven't been doing relatively well in the past 2 decades, which majority among the industrialized countries has been doing well?

Anonymous said...

There are sectors in Japan that are still doing fine, but Japanese finance is a mess, and it's propped up only by vast savings of its people, but that cannot go on forever.

Isn't finance anywhere by definition propped up by savings?

Anonymous said...

There are few Japanese companies in the global top 50. When it comes to computers--the future--, Japan lags way behind. Japanese are good at making nifty hardware--but even on that score, Apple kicked its ass--, but Japanese software people are thirdrate compared to US Jews.

Competing to be a top "global brand" some such involves lots of wasteful, zero-sum effort. It's zero-sum because brands are ultimately based on abstract, psychological conceptions of consumers. I don't know why they should be competing in this dimension necessarily. Apple is a fine company but it hasn't really done anything for America as a nation-state or for the majority of Americans.

Anonymous said...

From the NYT article:

A striking instance of how the story has influenced American perceptions appears in “The Next 100 Years,” by the consultant George Friedman. In a chapter headed “China 2020: Paper Tiger,” Mr. Friedman argues that, just as Japan “failed” in the 1990s, China will soon have its comeuppance. Talk of this sort powerfully fosters complacency and confusion in Washington in the face of a United States-China trade relationship that is already arguably the most destructive in world history and certainly the most unbalanced.

--------------------

In the next decade the Chinese Air Force will be operating stealth jet fighter...

Anonymous said...

Just watched the entire movie (Prime on Amazon). Excellent work philosophy. Working meditation combined with walking meditation (kinhin) to perfect one's self by perfecting one's craft. Very Zen.
Those working for him are most fortunate and I don't think his son feels he's being held back in the least. The love between father and sons is most evident, I believe. The Japanese are so subtle sometimes their true depth of feeling is missed.

Jiro reminds me of a Japanese boss I had. Toshio was a bonzai master and he hired me to care for the young field-grown nursery stock. I transplanted, mixed soils, watered, etc. In the interview, he asked with a Jiro-style smile if I was strong, and I answered I'm strong enough. He laughed and hired me. I was in awe of his skills and worked with rapt attention to each and every detail of what I did-- I was studying Zen and practicing zazen, though I didn't tell him that. He was the best boss I ever had. That was when I was 20, I'm now 57. His wife came out to the field to give me warm little Japanese sweet lima-bean filling pastries and coffee for break-time. Gasho, Tosh and wife!

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed amazing French, Italian, Greek, and of course Japanese food not only in Tokyo, but in provincial areas of Japan too.


If you want to see a real joke, try eating Indian cuisine in Japan. I did a few times, and what I got was stale matzos for nan, ketchup mixed with pickle relish for chutney, and a small pile of dried-out Chicken McNuggets in some packaged sauce for curry...for only $70! What a bargain.

The truth is, unless you've got a corporate expense account, you won't be able to afford the incredibly high-priced restaurants that serve really tasty food. The average Japanese restaurant makes American greasy-spoon joints look good.

I judge a nation's cuisine on how good its typical eateries are, not how good its tiny number of top restaurants are. By that measure, Japan fails...epically. (Thailand and France, however, do pretty well by that measure.)

Ex Submarine Officer said...

I call BS on the "good Italian food in Japan" claim as well.

This is one of my longstanding complaints about Japan - decent Italian food is pretty scarce.

Now, that isn't to say that there aren't a lot of restaurants in Japan claiming to be Italian serving some pretty tasty stuff. To be certain, there are plenty of thes, but the typical fare has been through so many cultural interpretations and filters that it is essentially unrecognizable as anything that might be served up in Italy.

That doesn't mean that there aren't any stellar, authentic Italian restaurants, just that they are pretty scarce in my experience.

Somewhat tangentially, Benihana is an American reinterpretation of the Japanese reinterpretation of American steak houses.

Roughly, garden variety Japanese Italian restaurants are to Italian food what Benihana is to a traditional American steak house.

Dad said...

While the globalist class may be doing good in Japan, the vast majority of Japanese have not done well in the past 2 decades.

The exact opposite is true. The "globalist class" that sipped sake in the front of the plane flies coach now. Meanwhile millions of ordinary Japanese live in better houses and apartments and drive on better roads than they did 20 years ago.

William Boot said...

If you're actually interested in evidence that Japan has had a truly disastrous 15 years despite a homogeneous and very high IQ population, this blog in general and this post in particular has plenty:

https://spikejapan.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/spiked-eamonn-fingleton/

Not to say that I wouldn't prefer a more homogeneous and high IQ population in the US, but it's not a guarantee of success on its own.

Seth said...

"How do the Japanese make such good ethnic food without importing the ethnic people? What is their secret?"

Yes this is a great mystery! According to Mayor Michael Bloomberg NYC owes its variety of restaurant choices to a flexible immigration policy. Without all the Mexicans working in our restaurants, you see, we would all be eating plain, boring, white, awful American food...grilled cheese sandwiches and spaghetti with ketchup I suppose.

Svigor said...

1- The Japanese have a long history of importing foods, technology, ideas and whatnot from overseas and then improving on it.
2- They make sure not to actually import the ethnic people, because once they get the hang of it the Japanese people can just do it better more consistently.

Seriously.


Seriously Steve, you get a lot of churn. We didn't have to educate the newbs every month like this, did we?

Svigor said...

"There are sectors in Japan that are still doing fine, but Japanese finance is a mess, and it's propped up only by vast savings of its people, but that cannot go on forever."

Isn't finance anywhere by definition propped up by savings?


*Facepalm*

An example of this is the remarkable fact that most disk drive manufacture and assembly takes place not in Japan, but Thailand, for Japanese disk drive firms like Hitachi.

It's also an example of the perfect efficiency and brilliance of our beloved globalist MotU; there was a flood in Thailand a couple years back, and most of their HDD manufacturing capacity got wiped out, and for like a year HDD prices shot to the moon.

'Cuz all your eggs in one basket in Thailand = brilliant.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

"There are sectors in Japan that are still doing fine, but Japanese finance is a mess, and it's propped up only by vast savings of its people, but that cannot go on forever.""

Isn't finance anywhere by definition propped up by savings?"

Only in stodgy, old-fashioned countries like Japan. In the US, finance is propped up by mendacity, deceit, and high-handedness.

Mr. Anon said...

At the beginning of the slump in Japan, Toyota was the largest automobile maker in Japan. Now, after nearly a quater century of stagnation, Toyota is......the largest automaker in the world - bigger than Ford, GM, and Chrysler combined.

Japanese people live in a peaceful, well-ordered nation. Most want for none of the necessities of life. Many enjoy luxuries, such as foreign travel, that were previously enjoyed only by the wealthy. The populace is mostly law-abiding, and the government occasionally even looks after the interests of the people. We should be so lucky to face decline like that.

But never mind what is good for the Japanese in actuality - what is important is what is good for them in principal. The country is not run for the benefit of foreign financial interests. Japan is not governing itself according to the sage and altruistic advice of the Wall Street Journal and The Economist. The horror. The horror.

TGGP said...

Yes, sounds just great for Jiro's son.

Anonymous said...

"Toyota is......the largest automaker in the world - bigger than Ford, GM, and Chrysler combined."

Toyota will be toast. Google is coming out with the smart car that will drive itself.

Anonymous said...

I think it might be called the Goobile.

Anonymous said...

Yep, the Japs are pulling a fast one on us. Nevermind that far below replacement level fertility rate. And forget the over 200% debt to GDP ratio. They owe the money to themselves so they can just move it from the right pocket to the left. Steve, you're a genius.

Charlesz Martel said...

I remember being in Japan 40 years ago, and finding A Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise on the Ginza. I had been living in Europe for years, and hadn't been to one in a few years, so my family said "what the hell" and tried it.

Best Kentucky Fried Chicken I've ever had, in fact, some of the best fried chicken I've ever eaten- and I lived in the American South for decades.

The general consensus among my family was that the Japanese know how to fry food without it getting greasy. I've found a few places in the States that know how to do this, but not that many.

The Japanese, like other Northeast Asians, are interested in importing the best of our culture (technology, classical music, certain cuisines, etc.) and not our third world immigration policy. A country that, per Takuan Seiyo, does not actively pursue its' own self-destruction.

Bully for them. We could learn something.

Hapalong Cassidy said...

Beta-male Scots-Irishman say Jews good, Chinese & Japanese bad.

By the way, I've never bought into this so-called population crisis Japan is facing. The declining birth rate is actually good for Japan. First of all, Japan is way too crowded as it is. It's even more crowded than you would initially think when you realize that most of the country is rugged and mountainous, and most of the population lives in the narrow coastal plains. Also, the way I see it, a smaller population in the future means the average Japanese person will have a higher standard of living.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

""Toyota is......the largest automaker in the world - bigger than Ford, GM, and Chrysler combined.""

Toyota will be toast. Google is coming out with the smart car that will drive itself."

Yeah, I'd want to ride in a car designed by software engineers. What could go wrong?

Being a Google Car, will it record your every itinerary, which information will then be claimed by Google?

Mr. Anon said...

"Hapalong Cassidy said...

Beta-male Scots-Irishman say Jews good, Chinese & Japanese bad."

And he seldom ever even talks about the Scots-Irish. Strange, isn't it.

"By the way, I've never bought into this so-called population crisis Japan is facing. The declining birth rate is actually good for Japan. First of all, Japan is way too crowded as it is. It's even more crowded than you would initially think when you realize that most of the country is rugged and mountainous, and most of the population lives in the narrow coastal plains."

They could actually spread out more than they do (Californians build on the sides of hills). They just seem to prefer (or at least are accustomed to) living all on top of each other.

Anonymous said...

http://youtu.be/AhcEr415eKE

Making sushi out of men.

Dad said...

If you're actually interested in evidence that Japan has had a truly disastrous 15 years despite a homogeneous and very high IQ population, this blog in general and this post in particular has plenty:

https://spikejapan.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/spiked-eamonn-fingleton/


Lots of factoids in that post.

- Sure, Japanese may have the longest lifespans in the world. But the rate of increase in life expectancy over the past 20 years is less than in Cuba!

- Sure, the unemployment rate may be only 4.5%, despite the global financial crisi. But that's more than double the 1990 rate. And the real rate is likely higher than the government reports!

- Sure, Japanese drive nice cars. But so do lots of people! And only 4% of Japanese own German cars!

- Average internet connection speeds are only third fastest in the world behind Hong Kong and South Korea!

Somehow I don't think all this adds up to a "truely disasterous 15 years."

Anonymous said...

If you're actually interested in evidence that Japan has had a truly disastrous 15 years despite a homogeneous and very high IQ population, this blog in general and this post in particular has plenty:

https://spikejapan.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/spiked-eamonn-fingleton/


The Spike Japan website mainly covers parts of Japan with population decline and decaying infrastructure, ghost towns, etc. as evidence of some great disaster befalling Japan. The implicitation is that growth for the sake of growth, population growth everywhere, maintaining infrastructure for the sake of maintaining infrastructure, etc. are necessarily good and that any deviance from this is some sort of great disaster. Which is nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Japan has really been hurt by rising China.

Hapalong Cassidy said...

Nonsense. China has caught up with Japan and bumped them down to 3rd from 2nd in the list of world's largest economies, but please explain to me how that "hurts" Japan. The way I see it, their economies are neck-and-neck in total size, yet Japan has less than 1/10th the population of China. Sounds like they are doing pretty good by my book.

Anonymous said...

Like most Sushi meals, this documentary left me wanting more. The movie needs a villain, a rival chef who doesnt think Jiro is all that.

I imagine there is a Jiro of every cuisine imaginable. I want to see "Antonio dreams of pizza" and "Shontelle dreams of fried chicken."

Anonymous said...

Dad, not to be harsh, but the factoids you posted seem relatively meaningless.

- Sure, Japanese may have the longest lifespans in the world. But the rate of increase in life expectancy over the past 20 years is less than in Cuba!

This is meaningless because there is a finite maximum age. The rate of increase on the upper end of ages hasn't increased more than a year or two in the last 200 hundred years. The average is going up because of higher living standards, but no matter what you do living to be 200 isn't really an option. When you have an average near the upper end you can't make much progress so rate of increase is a useless number.

- Sure, the unemployment rate may be only 4.5%, despite the global financial crisi. But that's more than double the 1990 rate. And the real rate is likely higher than the government reports!

This is like comparing the unemployment rate in the U.S. in the late 90's to the unemployment rate at any other time. If your current rate is lower than the structural unemployment rate then it is unsustainable and you shouldn't be suprised that the average is higher. A rate in the 4% range is decent by any realistic definition of labor market rigidity.



- Sure, Japanese drive nice cars. But so do lots of people! And only 4% of Japanese own German cars!

Why are German cars the standard? The number one heavy motorcylce in Germany is Harley Davidson followed at a huge 5% disadvantage by BMW and not to be mean, but its not like Harley's are the epidemy of quality. Just because the Japanese don't want to have to tune a car every 5thousand miles doesn't make them in ba shape, it just means they have different priorities.
- Average internet connection speeds are only third fastest in the world behind Hong Kong and South Korea!

Third fastest in the world...god forbid.

Somehow I don't think all this adds up to a "truely disasterous 15 years."