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Book Review: Geeky-Girly Innovation: A Japanese Subculturalist’s Guide to Technology and Design by Morinosuke Kawaguchi

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Geeky-Girly Innovation does not refer only to innovation for geeky girls. Morinosuke Kawaguchi uses the term geeky-girl to symbolize the nature of the Japanese people as a nation, and particularly in the otaku subculture. He says that because the Japanese are a peaceful, non-military nation now and have been since World War II, they have developed a more feminine sort of nature in the otaku (geek, by his definition) culture, for which other countries do not create products. Products created for the sensitive, obsessive otaku then often find markets in other parts of the world as well.

It is definite that the Japanese are different. Because my husband is Japanese-American, we have watched a great deal of anime, and are familiar with the otaku culture as portrayed in that medium. This has spurred my interest in learning more about modern Japanese culture and subculture, and that is my reason for reading this book.

The purpose of the book is to discuss the reason that Japanese products are so different and more innovative than those from other countries, and to advise companies about the sort of products they might want to make for the Japanese market.

Basically, Kawaguchi explains that Japanese people get very attached to their belongings. They are also modest and obsessed with cleanliness. They respond to products that break down the barriers between human and machine, that make communication easier, or that help prevent personal embarrassment. They also care about the environment and they love luxury.

As a result, such products as personalized cellphones, mannequins with anime faces, and Japan’s super-toilets, with simulated flushing sounds and built-in soap dispensers have become very popular. He goes on to discuss a wide variety of products that suit specific Japanese needs.

The main problem with the book is the very small pictures and especially the tiny type used in the captions for the pictures.

Despite that small drawback, or those readers with a special interest in Japanese culture, this book is an interesting and fast read, well worth adding to your bookshelf.

About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, and Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.