Tokyo's creative economy

As Amy Chozick of the Wall Street Journal reports, Japan is turning into a hotbed of creativity, thanks to a nascent economic turnaround and a predilection for all things new and trendy:

"Japan has long been a world trendsetter, launching icons like the Sony

Walkman and Honda Civic and sparking crazes for Tamagotchi and the

wide-eyed characters of anime films. But lately, thanks to an economic

transformation a decade in the making, Japan has shifted its

trendmaking machinery to high gear. As its economy grows again, quirky

creativity has become one of its biggest growth industries."

A list of recent innovations found in Tokyo include Jesus-themed restaurants, T-shirts that release Vitamin C to the skin, an earwax camera, Converse sneakers covered in fake jewels and hot-tub karaoke. (Oh, and there's my personal favorite: the "maid cafe," where waitresses dressed in black-and-white French maid outfits greet each customer with the phrase, "Welcome home, master.") One innovation that I can see gaining a foothold in Silicon Valley (home of the lava lamp) is the Banpresto Aquapict Jellyfish Aquarium, which is basically a water tank filled with live jellyfish which are then illuminated by an LED device so as to appear purple, green or pink.


To review the latest in Japanese innovation, check out the archives of JSPY, which was a great "spy" site for Japanese trends. (Unfortunately, much like the recently-deceased Business Innovation Insider, the Jspy blog is no longer live, having passed away in September 2006.)

UPDATE: Thanks to the Wall Street Journal mention, the $145 Banpresto Aquapict Jellyfish Aquarium is now sold out at some online stores and only available via back order!

Develop mindfulness to boost your creative intelligence

Sharon Salzberg, world-renowned mindfulness leader, teaches meditation at Big Think Edge.

Image: Big Think
Big Think Edge
  • Try meditation for the first time with this guided lesson or, if you already practice, enjoy being guided by a world-renowned meditation expert.
  • Sharon Salzberg teaches mindfulness meditation for Big Think Edge.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

For a long time, the West shaped the world. That time is over.

The 21st century is experiencing an Asianization of politics, business, and culture.

Videos
  • Our theories about the world, even about history or the geopolitics of the present, tend to be shaped by Anglo perspectives of the Western industrial democracies, particularly those in the United States and the United Kingdom.
  • The West, however, is not united. Canada, for instance, acts in many ways that are not in line with American or British policies, particularly in regard to populism. Even if it were united, though, it would not represent most of the world's population.
  • European ideas, such as parliamentary democracy and civil service, spread across the world in the 19th century. In the 20th century, American values such as entrepreneurialism went global. In the 21st century, however, what we're seeing now is an Asianization — an Asian confidence that they can determine their own political systems, their own models, and adapt to their own circumstances.
Keep reading Show less

Why modern men are losing their testosterone

Research has shown that men today have less testosterone than they used to. What's happening?

Flickr user Tom Simpson
Sex & Relationships
  • Several studies have confirmed that testosterone counts in men are lower than what they used to be just a few decades ago.
  • While most men still have perfectly healthy testosterone levels, its reduction puts men at risk for many negative health outcomes.
  • The cause of this drop in testosterone isn't entirely clear, but evidence suggests that it is a multifaceted result of modern, industrialized life.
Keep reading Show less

Why the ocean you know and love won’t exist in 50 years

Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?

Videos
  • Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
  • The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
  • If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
Keep reading Show less