Right-Brain Left-Brain – Part 5

Right-Brain Left-Brain – Part 5

Right-Brain Left-Brain – Part 5

Right-Brain Left-Brain – Part 5

An important cultural trait of the Japanese is the practice of giving intuition presidents over reason.

Stories from the annals of the Japanese are replete with incidents where the fate of individuals, groups, and even the entire nation hung in the balance, and these critical decisions were based upon intuition, rather than reason.

intuition versus logic

In fact, the higher placed and more powerful the individual concerned in such sticky situations, the more likely they were to rely upon innate intuition.

A case in point would be the visionaries Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita of Sony fame seeing the future of consumer electronics.

Although invented in the U$A, this is where the innate ability of the Japanese to take imported technology and intuitively reimagine it into the future kicks in.

Are you KY

In this pioneering case, the transistorized broadcast radio receiver was the object of the Japanese intuition toward the nascent consumer electronic industry.

This seminal work served to make the broader consumer electronic industry aware of the potentialities of the transistor, thanks to Sony.

As the greatest hockey player of all time Wayne Gretzky (also an example of extraordinary deep intuition) said:

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been

Always keep these immortal words of wisdom close to the heart, and one can also now see the future via intuition.

There was a crucial word learned from very early in one’s journey in the Land Of The Rising Son.


Where the literal translation is the art (芸げい) of the stomach (腹はら) .

Alas, when referencing haragei in conversation with the younger generation, it feels as though this culturally important communication tool is being serially diluted in large part due to the Micky Mousification of Japan.

Ever had a “gut feeling?”

There, one has experienced haragei, and would do well to consciously obverse and note the haragei for future reference.

One can then tune into this curious Japanese communication protocol and relate to them at a much higher level than one could have ever imagined without understanding the importance of intuition in Japanese communication.

Think of haragei as cultural telepathy, which is being able to communicate among people on the basis of common knowledge and experience.

Interesting Facts About The Land Of The Rising Son

This has been described in an article entitled: “Japanese Telepathy: I Shin Den Shin

Another significant term is chokkan, meaning intuition.

However, this word holds much deeper significance to the Japanese as opposed to the Occidentals.

The Japanese are still homogenized to a considerable degree by strict cultural programming.

They are instilled with the same beliefs and forms of behaviour, which results in the Japanese thinking and act very much alike.

Indeed, even now the power of traditional Japanese culture is still very much evident in the attitudes and behaviour of the Japanese, and it’s still possible to assume that in group situation they react in the “Japanese Way.”

In this, the Japanese can intuit what others are thinking and what type of action to be undertaken in most circumstances, according to identifiable traditional Japanese values.

This is where intuition continues to play a critical role in non-verbal Japanese communication which resides in the “air”, or what the Japanese refer to as kuki.

One of the challenges facing those unfamiliar with these peculiar Japanese communication protocols is being able to determine whether a reaction is based on intuition or reason.

Generally speaking, reactions based on intuition reflect the traditional Japanese mindset as a whole and can be observed in the group consensus nature of Japanese society.

On the other hand, reactions based on pure reason will reflect the personal opinions or positions of the individuals, which may or may not be representative of the group consensus.

Keep in mind, group consensus still is paramount to the smooth functioning of Japanese society.

Geisha among the Cherry Blossoms

Personal opinions are accepted in informal gatherings, or in unofficial business setting like the ubiquitious drinking session, however, one ignores the importance of group consensus at one’s own peril.

There is a great deal of innate wisdom in Japanese intuition, and when marrying it with reason, it often results in a more comprehensive answer or solution to whatever discussion or problem is at hand.

How about adding the intuition element into ones own reasoned thinking for a higher level of awareness to assist when navigating this multifaceted and rapidly changing world.

The power of one's own intuition

Bonus: Continue exploring the unique Japanese regard toward the stomach (腹はら) in the podcast entitled: A Worm Told Me

Right-Brain Left-Brain – Part 4

Right-Brain Left-Brain – Part 4

Right-Brain Left-Brain – Part 4

Right-Brain Left-Brain – Part 4

Ever thought to think about fuzzy thinking versus linear thinking?

The core principal which can be considered the Japanese way of thinking can be though of as fuzzy thinking, or better still, holistic thinking.

Fuzzy thinking

If this concept has not became apparent yet, this “way of thinking” contrasts sharply with the linear way of thinking in which most of the rest of the world operates.

Despite the Japanese cultural kinship and similarities with the Koreans and Chinese, these similarities only came about due to primitive Koreans and then primitive Japanese adopting many facets of Chinese culture at a very early stage in Japanese cultural and societal development.

For certain, Japan retain its own native cultural essence and this makes the Japanese conspicuously different from the Chinese and Koreans.

Here one submits:

Often the world is divided between East and West, Oriental and Occidental. 

One could almost say…black and white. 

But where are the rainbow and divine shades of gray?

Grayscale Paper

The third, and paramount to the delicate balance of the rapidly changing world is the holistic right brain thinking of the Japanese.

Japanese Civilization

Eastern Civilization

Western Civilization

Despite the debacle of the Japanese attempt to create a Greater East Asia Co-propriety Sphere once upon a time, the ability of the Japanese to absorb, improve on, and innovate technology undoubtedly played a key role in the meteoric rise of Japan as the second largest economy in the world up until the early part of the 21st century.

The Greater East Asian Co-prosparity Sphere - when total empire met total war

The natural tendency of the Japanese is to look at all things from a holistic viewpoint, a valuable asset for sure, especially when applied to the use of technology and associated aesthetic factors.

Indeed, the mystical ability of the Japanese is their innate capacity to understand, duplicate, and improve on imported technology, whether synthetic paper, passenger cars, or the arquebus, is unparalleled.

The right brain influence has truly manifested itself in the Japanese as one can observe in their systematic approach to arts and crafts, architecture, garden design, and the continuing emphasis on aesthetic practices weaved into the daily routine of ordinary Japanese life.

Japanese Woman Bowing to the Land Of The Rising Son

The dominance of the right side of the brain remains so powerful the Japanese still have somewhat of an aversion to thinking based solely on facts and logic. 

Unequivocally, the Japanese regard the linear, purely logical way of thinking to be somewhat callous, cruel, and anti-human.

To be sure, the attribute most admire by the Japanese in people is humanism.

What Is Secular Humanism

Now if one’s world could only find a little more humanism around the globe, the future for descendants would becoming a much better place.

Stay tuned for next week installment as we continue our right-brain left-brain journey in the Land Of The Rising Son.

Right-Brain Left-Brain – Part 3

Right-Brain Left-Brain – Part 3

Right-Brain Left-Brain – Part 3

Right Brain Left Brain – Part 3

The profound influence of right-brain dominance in Japanese culture reaches into their deepest values, motivation, and behaviour while encompasses all aspect of Japanese life.

One can see the influence of the right-brain thinking in Japanese arts and crafts, in the meticulous attention to detail when creating new and innovative products, and in the general aura throughout the nation of Japan.

Circular Rainbow Sun Halo

Truly, this even includes the way the Japanese go about doing some of the most mundane tasks, such as arranging food into a well thought-out presentation.

Indeed, anyone having experienced a Japanese banquet with the meticulously prepared and arranged food, of which can only be considered a form of high art, can bear witness to this reality.

washoku example

Fundamentally, the influence of the physical manifestations of the right brain dominance in Japanese culture are positive, and account for virtually all things both Japanese and non-Japanese find so emotionally and spiritually satisfying about Japan and the Japanese Way.

Interestingly enough, when the Japanese interact with each other, they exist in the same cultural realm, and the aspects of the right brain orientation that conflicts with the left brain attitudes and behaviour are controlled by established communication, tolerance, and cooperation protocols.

By the same token, when the Japanese are dealing with people whose left-brains are dominant and not culturally program to accommodate right brain thinking and behaviour, misunderstandings and friction are inevitable.

This is particularly prevalent when the left brain people concerned are not sensitive to cultural differences or choose to ignore them, which is often the case, and at one’s own peril when dealing with the Japanese.

Commander Perry Black Ship - ペリーの黒船

Let’s examine one of the earliest Japan pioneer, William Elliot Griffis, who first arrived in Japan on December 29, 1870.

After living and teaching in the hinterlands of Japan (Fukui), he began to question the ways he’d been taught from an early age.

Here he wrote the following in 1871:

“Why is it that we do things contrariwise to the Japanese?

Are we upside down, or they?

The Japanese say that we are reversed.

They call our penmanship “crab-writing,” because, say they, “it goes backward.”

The lines in our books cross the page like a craw-fish, instead of going downward “properly.”

In a Japanese stable we find the horse’s flank where we look for his head.

Japanese screws screw the opposite way.

Their locks turn to the left, ours to the right…

An occidental, to injure his enemy, kills him; A Japanese kills himself to spite his foe.

Which race is left-handed?

Which has the negative, which the positive of truth?

What is truth?”

William Elliot Griffis

Shortly after Japan opened up to the world after 250 years of peaceful isolation, Mr. Griffis, the puritanical occidental was fully exposed to the right-side-of-the-brain thinking Japanese.

One can also see similar observations reflected in the writing of Patrick Lafcadio Hearn (Koizumi Yakumo), in particular, in the very important book entitled, Japan, an attempt at interpretation, which was published in 1904.

Patrick Lafcadio H - 小泉八雲

One can read this important historical interpretation of Japan during the Meiji Restoration for free here.

Japan, an attempt at interpretation

Based upon the above historical passage by William Elliot Griffis, reading Patrick Lafcadio Hearn, and first-hand experience from over 3 decades of living in the countryside of Japan, one can confirm the validity of the right-brain left-brain thesis.

As one journeys along and when interacting with, and living among the Japanese, it is always a very good idea to keep in mind what side of the brain one is dealing with.

Stay tuned next week for a deep dive into the right-brain left-brain contrasting in the way of thinking, and the way of life.

Right-Brain Left-Brain – Part 2

Right-Brain Left-Brain – Part 2

Right-Brain Left-Brain – Part 2

Right-Brain Left-Brain – Part 2

According to the research of Dr. Tadanobu Tsunoda in the 1970s, there is a fundamental difference in the hemisphere dominance of the brains in the Japanese and non-Japanese. レトロファッション 1970 His research also demonstrated the difference in dominant side of the brain is a direct result of the individual’s native language. What is even more remarkable is that Dr. Tsunoda found there were only two languages which always produces right brain dominance: Japanese and Polynesian. As a musician, one found Dr. Tsunoda’s research indicating the secret of which side of the brain is dominant is based on whether the sounds of the language are harmonic or non-harmonic. 日本人の脳 This led to the understanding that Japanese being a harmonic language uses the right side of the brain, while all other languages are non-harmonic and are processed by the left side of the brain. The Japanese are unique as the worlds only large, prominent, group of people whose mind is primarily right-brain centric. As an outsider reflecting on the spirit and soul of the Japanese for over three decades, one believes a valuable culture traits is the Japanese ability to apply both right and left brain insights and energy in all their efforts. On the other hand, a negative right-brain aspect would be the extraordinary emotional content of the Japanese culture, which makes it complex and time-consuming to maintain harmonious relationships. Emotional Intelligence The Japanese Way Indeed, maintaining harmonious relationships with the Japanese is tricky and one must always pay close attention so as to successfully navigate this esoteric culture and society. This is even more true, when the Japanese have to maintain relationships with people whose cultures are less emotionally burdensome. The difficulty in maintain proper relationships in this complex and hierarchical system of Japan is something one has experienced many times. Valuable, if not somewhat painful lessons are plenty when going thorough the inevitable growing pains of assimilating into the Japanese culture and understanding their right-brain thinking. Every Pain Gives a Lesson During the industrialization of Japan between 1870 and 1890, left brain decision-making and a growing degree of left brain behaviour was necessary to incorporate to modernize Japan. Further erosion of the right-brain culture continued after the defeat of Japan in the second world war, and with the importation of popular American culture. In fact, one has observed more and more of the left brain thinking staining the right-brain Japanese over three decades living among the Japanese. One could almost attributed this to the incessant creeping of American culture, if there is indeed such a thing as, “American culture.” However, this erosion process has still not penetrate to the core of the Japanese culture or psyche, and the Japanese language remains virtually intact and continue to program the right side of the brain from birth. Over the last few decades, a large percentage of the Japanese population has been exposed to English with mixed results. Confused Japanese One could say the more English imprinted on to left side of the Japanese brain the more readily the Japanese can switch to the left brain thinking and acting. However, for most Japanese, speaking and listening to English can be extremely tiring, especially if they are not very good at language. In fact, the has been mentioned many times by one’s extraordinary spouse, who only started to learn English much later in life, and for certain still finds English not only tiring, but noisy. Indeed, the core of Japanese culture will always remain right-brain, and this may turns out to be an advantage in this changing world, only time will tell. Next week let’s peak further into the right-side-of-the-Japanese-brain. Peak into the right brain of the Japanese
Right-Brain Left-Brain – Part 1

Right-Brain Left-Brain – Part 1

Right-Brain Left-Brain – Part 1

Right-Brain Left-Brain – Part 1

Many years ago now one read a book by the eclectic writer Boyé Lafayette De Mente entitled, “ Why The Japanese Are A Superior People”, which explores the advantages of using both sides of the brain.

Keep in mind that Boyé Lafayette De Mente was among the first writers to introduce the Japanese terms wanemawashikaizentatemae-honneshibui, and wabi-sabi to the Western world.

Boye De Mente eclectic author on Japan a LOTRS favorite

Interestingly, many of the observations in this book rang so very true, particularly after being immersed in the Japanese culture and society for over three decades.

Inside the ancient roots of the Japanese culture is a built-in condition lurking in their DNA, known as “kiga suma nai (気が進まない), where one could think of as “my spirit is not satisfied“

In other words, the Japanese have been culturally programmed to be dissatisfied with any thought, action, or product that is less than perfect.

Perhaps one could say this is where the spirit of kaizen comes from.

Kaizen - The Art of Continuous Improvement

Science has ascertained that there are basic differences in the function and role of the left and right side of the brain.

It seems that the left sphere is programmed for linear or straight line thinking, and directs routine, repetitive physical actions, logic, direct verbal communication, and for making objective, fact based decisions.

On the other hand, the right side sphere is said to directs emotions, intuition, personal relations, aesthetics, mutual corporation, group orientation, and maintaining harmony throughout nonverbal communication and indirect speech.

Of course there is crossover between the right and left-brain, but the basic function of the two sides are different, with people behaving and reacting differently, depending on which side of the brain is engaged.

Difference Between Left Brain and Right Brain

In left-brain cultures the right sphere is active when contemplating matters of religion, aesthetics, and other esoteric subjects, which are not based on hard, objective facts.

This can be evidenced as discussions of these types of subjects tend to become very emotional.

Some people in fundamental right-brain cultures are capable switching to left-brain thinking when pursuing practical manner such as engineering, math, and scientific research, which can be looked upon as an advantage.

Indeed these kinds of thinkers are able to benefit from using both sides of the brain in tandem a process known as holistic thinking.

Moreover, there’s also a significant difference in the basic brain orientation of men and women.

In predominantly left-brain cultures, women tend to be more right-brained in thinking and behavior. In other words, female attitudes and behaviour are more emotional and intuitive than males.

Clearly women are wired to be more caring, nurturing, and aesthetically inclined than men, and any observation of a nurturing mother confirms this point.

nurturing Japanese mother

In predominantly right-brain cultures, women tend to be less right-brain oriented than men. While they are more caring and nurturing than men of the right-brain culture, they are typically more direct and practical in their attitudes and behaviour as a survival trait.

Many cultures are left-brain oriented such as China, the U$A, Germany, England, Russia, and Israel.

One can consider the cultures of all Spanish-speaking countries, as well as France and Italy, to have combinations of left-brain and right-brain thinking and behavior.

The two most right-brain oriented cultures on the planet are those of Japan and the Polynesian speaking nations of the South Pacific.

In fact, there is ample evidence that the right-brain orientation of the Japanese is the main source of many positive cultural Japanese traits.

It can also be considered the right-brain orientation of the Japanese played a major role in transforming Japan, which remains a tiny, resource poor country into an economic superpower in less than 30 years after the end of the second world war.

There is a reason for this astounding economic achievement, and this remains an advantageous trait that will serve the Japanese well into the uncertain future.

In the next several post, one will explore the left-brain right-brain phenomena and why the great writer Boyé Lafayette De Mente, thinks, “The Japanese are Superior People.”

Why the Japanese are superior people - the advantage of using both sides of your brain


Not Peanut Butter

Not Peanut Butter

Not Peanut Butter

Not Peanut Butter

Many moons ago, there were several Canadian carpenters building 2 x 4 houses in sunny Chiba Prefecture.

Anyway, meeting these Canadian carpenters was most fortuitous.

2 x 4 house wall going up

The head carpenter returned to Ontario Canada after the small local housing company went bankrupt, and the Canadian carpenters were let go.

He was then engaged to send over two containers full of housing material and 3 Canadian carpenters to build one’s very own Canadian 2×4 house in beautiful sunny Chiba, where one resides with the honourable wife and 5 beautiful cats to this very day.

It was interesting to meet these skilled craftsman here in Japan, in which to their shock, surprise, and sometimes dismay offered a significantly different experience from their hometowns in the Eastern part of Canada.

One particular Canadian carpenters was having significant issues adjusting to Japanese food, and was longing for some good old Canadian comfort food, peanut butter!

Peanut Butter

Now, peanut butter is something relatively recent to the Japanese and is still not really so widely available in regular supermarkets.

However, to this homesick country Canadian boy, he saw an entire wall full of what looked like peanut butter, hallelujah!

Thinking he has found peanut butter paradise, he purchased a unit and excitedly brought it home, dreaming of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (PB&J).

One happened to be visiting the Canadian carpenters on that very day, and he held up the yet unopened container saying in a hopeful voice “this is peanut butter, right?”

His hope of a delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to soothe his homesick soul was crushed under the boot-heal of reality when told gently, “no, this is miso (soybean paste).”


To which he replied with a deep melancholy look in his eyes, “what’s that?”

One informed him that miso is one of the main staples of the Japanese diet.

Miso is a versatile paste which can be mixed into sauces, dressings, batters, vegetable dips, and soups (or whatever tickles one’s fancy).

One of the very best things about miso is that it is a cultured food, and a natural source of healthy probiotics (also known as “good bacteria”), which is beneficial for digestion (nothing quite like a healthy bowl movement).

An all time personal favorite, the traditional Japanese breakfast is always accompanied by a hearty bowl of miso soup as the companion to the rice, fish, natto and pickles.

和風朝食セット焼き魚 おひたし みそ汁

Often miso is a feature in the ramen shop, where one can choose between soy sauce, salt, pork broth (tonkotsu), or miso flavor.

The first experience one had eating ramen back in January 1987, was a hearty bowl of miso ramen on a cold winter day. This delightful meal included spring onions and slabs of pork (kakuni), and the most delicious miso ever, and when eating this incredible dish it was love at first bite.

Miso Ramen with Kakuni

However, much to the chagrin of the Japanese companion, the entire bowl of soup was drained of all liquid with abject delight.

Along with being chastised for these poor manners, the lecture was also accompanied by the phrase, “if you drink all the ramen miso soup you will die of high blood pressure one day.”

Slurping up the soup is now looked upon as better manners as it helps the environment by eliminating food waste.

Moreover, as of this writing, one is not dead yet, so it looks like it’s okay to swill the ramen broth.

Wall Of Miso

Bonus Peanut Butter: When interpreting for American engineers at the world’s largest synthetic paper factory, this outstanding Japanese company always prepared a delicious lunch box for them. However, one engineer was not adventurous whatsoever in their eating habits, and brought a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to the factory every day. It is here where he washed down the PB&J sandwich with a coke, every day. When inquiring each day as to how PB&J sandwich was, his answer was always the same, “predictable.”

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