Author Options:

Makers, but not as we know them.... Answered

Japanese technology companies are renowned for their innovations.

But, really, what completely new products have come out of Japan in the last decade?

It seems that Japan has lost its creativity, and slipped into serial innovation, producing upgraded versions of established sellers (sounds like Apple?).

There are Makerspaces, but not as we know them.

Tokyo is home to a Makerspace stuffed with a 1bn yen ($8.5m; £5.5m) worth of equipment, but it's behind serious security and costs $250/month to be a member.

It's more of a tech start-up incubator than the Makerspaces we know in the US & UK.

I know Japanese makers exist, they had their own Makerfaire, but the stuff they make is subtly different.  It's "finished".  Every hobby 3d printer, drone or CNC machine I have seen has had exposed workings, loose wires, visible guts that you can see doing stuff.  Duct tape is a styling must.  

Japanese projects have hidden internals, sleek, professional-looking enclosures and casings.  Even one-off projects look like they came from a warehouse with another ten thousand stored in crates.

I'm not saying this is a bad thing.  It's just a different aesthetic (me, I like seeing stuff do stuff, rather than a polished case flash an LED to tell me it has finished silently doing hidden stuff), but where does it happen?

Do all Japanese Makers have professional-quality workshops hidden under their bed?

Does anybody know?  Do we have any Japanese makers here to tell me I'm wrong?


The forums are retiring in 2021 and are now closed for new topics and comments.

5 years ago

I worked with some Japanese guys on a company project years ago and can say they really are a different breed.

Perfection and cleanlyness is a must for them (at least the ones I worked with).

Every days they came to the job with a totally clean, white overall, white cotton gloves and clean tools.

No matter how dirty the previous day was, the next day it looks like the clones moved in.

Mind you we were installing electrical equipment in a steel factory with massive furnaces and even bigger machines, so dust and dirt was on every surface we touched.

One day I was courios enough to ask them why they clean their tools, toolboxes and change to a new overall every day.

The answer was quite surprising "Only if your mind and body is clean you will enjoy what you do."

Of course I did not understand the meaning of it and had to ask even more questions.

Long story short, for those guys it was a matter of being proud of every aspect of their job.

Every cable, wire and connection was done as if it was a piece of art.

They said that if anyone ever checks the work he will see that someone was proud of his job and work.

I guess it is a cultural thing.

Japan has isolated itself from the rest of the world, a Gaijin, as they call everyone from outside Japan will never be a part of their culture or even community.

Etiquette and social rituals have been carried on from times where we in the western world were still ruled by kings and the church.

A part of this is to always improve on yourself and your enviroment.

Where we might do a bit of this they actually live it every day.

Just check their public transport system: Over 99% of it is on time - every day of the year no matter the weather conditions. If you are late because of the public transport system for more than 5 minutes you get a form for your boss explaining in detail why you have been late for work.

And even a simple dinner snack is prepared and served like a piece of art.