On the very last day of my stay in Japan I learned one of the most important things about the Japanese, I guess. It was a sunny day, a deep blue sky, but nevertheless I wanted to visit the Edo Museum in central Tokyo. I love the architecture of this building and inside I learned a lot about Tokyo and its development – and that the Japanese love RANKINGS. All kinds of rankings. From top to flop, from best to worst, it seems as if they always need a Top Ten. The museum also showed several rankings from ancient times, one for example is the ranking of the popular plants. The paper looked very old.

The sunny day was a Sunday, it was my last day in Japan. I stayed in the country for eight days to do some investigations, meeting a lot of very interesting people from politics and economy.

At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs I learned about the relations between Germany and Japan, about the safety situation and the current situation in the South China Sea. I interviewed Prof. Yuichi Hosoya from Keiō University who is well known for his knowledge in this field. One highlight was to meet Prof. Dr. Takahiro Shinyo, vice president of Kwansei Gakuin University and former ambassador of Japan in Germany. He gave me his book "Japans außenpolitische Strategie in einer multipolaren Welt" as a present.

As I work for the Business Section at Die Zeit it was very interesting to get a deep insight into Japan’s economical situation. I had the chance to talk to Mr. Mizobata of Daiwa Institute of Research.

I work as an editor for the weekly German newspaper Die Zeit. The intention of my trip to Japan was not only to learn more about the country but also do some investigations. I drove to Osaka to meet Ms. Michiko Ogawa working for Panasonic. A very impressive woman who knows a lot about music and business – and who took her time to talk to me despite of her busy schedule. And I investigated child poverty.

I have been to Japan before, in 2012, but this time a translator accompanied me all the time. I had the chance to ask everything I was interested in. In 2012 it was easy to travel through the country but it was difficult to have conversations with the people I met. I learned everyday knowledge, for example:

That yellow stands for wealth (that’s why a lot of purses are yellow).
That principals in school always have to taste the meal before the pupils can eat it.
That young Japanese love Taylor Swift.
That you can order a Japanese version of Italian Spaghetti Bolognese – it’s made with soy sauce.
That all distances in Japan are measured from the Nihombashi Bridge.
That all big media companies in Japan own a baseball team.
And that Japanese love RANKINGS.

Send us a comment about this article