Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Can Daikin Dethrone the HVAC King?      ダイキンはHVAC世界首位に下克上できるか?

Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning.  Also known as HVAC, its what most of us in the 21st Century cannot live without.

And soon to dethrone the market leader Carrier, a United Technologies Company hailing from Connecticut, is none other than Osaka-based Daikin Industries.  

Originally formed in 1924, Daikin has always been a step ahead of the rest when it comes to air conditioning systems.  From its days of installing ventilation systems on submarines used during World War II, the company controls its own destiny in the commercial market and holds the second spot nationally to Panasonic for the residential market nowadays.

Seeing the need to expand internationally, Daikin established its European office in Belgium back in 1972 and now has representative offices in 26 countries situated around the globe, which has led the company to achieving its number two position globally.  

Now with the number one position within its grasp, rumors have been flying around that Daikin is a possible suitor to takeover Goodman Global, which is the second largest HVAC manufacturer in the U.S.  

With all this attention being placed on the industry, it will be interesting to see how this situation "heats" up.

HVACとはHeating、Ventilating、 Air Conditioning − すなわち冷暖房空調設備のことを指します。21世紀を生きる私たちにとって、HVACはなくてはならない存在といっても過言ではないでしょう。




世界第1位も手に届くところにあり、ちまたではダイキンが現アメリカ第2位のGoodman Global(グッドマン・グローバル)を買収し、Carrierを追い抜く日もそう遠くないだろうと噂されています。


Monday, January 17, 2011

CNN Business Traveller - Osaka Edition   CNNビジネストラベラー大阪版

What's business like for a foreigner in Osaka?  How can a business traveller survive in the city on a budget of less than $200 per day?

In the highly recommended videos featured above, CNN's own Richard Quest finds out the answers to the these questions and more during his 2009 visit to Osaka for CNN Business Traveller.  

In the first video at the 4:15 mark, two very good friends of mine, Garr Reynolds and Paul Dupuis, sit down to have lunch with Richard and explain proper business protocol and customs.

In the second video clip, Richard speaks with the former mayor of Osaka, Mayor Seki, regarding what city government sponsored incentives are in place to attract more foreign businesses to the region.  

Following his meeting with the mayor, Richard sat down to chat with Joshua Flannery (another business colleague of mine), who was a direct recipient of said incentives made available by the city, to hear first-hand how the city's support assisted him when he was setting up his operations.

I am not denying that Osaka, and most of Japan for that matter, is expensive.  If you are not careful, daily expenses will grow exponentially.  However Richard's piece illustrating how one can move around the city on a tight budget shows that anything is possible.  What it comes down to is having access to the right information.     







Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hiyoshiya: The Tale of the Lone Wagasa in Kyoto 日吉屋:京都の和傘ものがたり

More inline with how Kyoto is portrayed in the media and relating to its historical past, today's blog entry focuses on the only traditional Japanese umbrella (wagasa) company left in Kyoto - Hiyoshiya.

Founded in the later part of the Edo period (1603-1868), Hiyoshiya has been in operation for five generations.  For the story of how the current president of 36 years of age, Kotaro Nishibori, came into power, please click here.  

The history of the Japanese umbrella can be traced back to Heian period (794-1185) well before the time of Hiyoshiya.  Different from today's Japanese umbrella and Western umbrella for that matter, the umbrellas back then were used to protect the aristocrats from the sun and evil spirits.  However by the late 14th century, the functionality of the umbrella changed into how we use it to this day.     

Now some of you may be thinking what is the difference (if there is one) between a Japanese umbrella and one in the West.  To answer your question, please refer below.  

Western Umbrellas: 
- made from plastic, polyester, and steel
- consisted of 8 ribs
- when expanded form a dome shape
- the handle is placed up when storing

Japanese Umbrellas:
- made from washi paper (Japanese paper) and bamboo
- consisted of 30-70 ribs
- when expanded form a straight line
- the handle is placed down when storing

Now because of the complexity in producing a Japanese umbrella, it normally takes anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on the design and size.  For more details, click here.

For those of you interested in learning more about Japanese umbrellas and even having the chance to make your own, be sure to contact Hiyoshiya in advance from the following request form to schedule a tour of the facility.  

With the company also having umbrellas available to rent, Hiyoshiya can assist anyone wanting to accessorize his/her wardrobe, office, etc. with the essence of Kyoto.










Mizuno: 105 Years Down and Many More To Go! ミズノ105歳。まだまだこれから!

Just like ASICS, Mizuno Corporation is another sports equipment and sportswear company that did not register on my radar as a Japan-based company until after I came here.  Originally established in 1906 by founder Rihachi Mizuno in Osaka, Mizuno Corporation is the choice of many like Ichiro Suzuki in the baseball world and used to be the golf club of choice for Tiger Woods during his collegiate career at Stanford and after turning pro before eventually switching to Nike.  To view the entire list of individuals/teams sponsored by Mizuno, click here.  

Even though the company was established more than 100 years ago, it was not until 1980 that Mizuno entered the American market.  With its U.S. headquarters situated in Norcross, Georgia, a suburb located 32 km (20 miles) to the northeast of Atlanta, Mizuno has gone on to set up offices in Canada, United Kingdom, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China to showcase its products for sports enthusiasts of running, track and field, volleyball, baseball, softball, and golf.

As a strong supporter of the Olympics since 1924, Mizuno is committed to contributing to society through the advancement of sporting goods and the promotion of sports, and with 105 years of experience under its belt, the company is positioning itself to continue its mission into the next century.




Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kansai - The Real Japan? You Be The Judge.   関西こそが日本?(・・と、思いますか?)

For most people residing outside of Japan, Kyoto and Tokyo are the cities that are most familiar followed by Osaka, Hiroshima, etc.  However, what about "Kansai"?  When I first visited Osaka (the second largest city in Japan) 10 years ago, my plane did not land at Osaka Airport as I thought it would but rather at Kansai International Airport.  Was Kansai another way to say Osaka?

I soon came to realize that Kansai was the name for the region that includes the ancient capital cities of Nara and Kyoto along with Osaka, the port city of Kobe (also where Kobe beef originated), and the largest lake in Japan - Lake Biwa in Shiga.  Geographic details about this region are depicted in the pictures above.

With Tokyo being the present-day capital of Japan, it is understandable why it gets all the attention, however Kansai has a lot going for it as a region and offers a different lifestyle than what one can find in the metropolitan city of Tokyo, which makes Kansai attractive.  

Having previously lived in Tokyo to experience the city first-hand, it is safe to say that I am biased when it comes to talking about Kansai.  After living in Tokyo, I moved to Kansai and have never looked back since.  Tokyo is comparable to any large metropolitan city in the world. Even though most of the people living in Tokyo are Japanese (as they are anywhere else in this country), the city doesn't have much of a "Japanese" feel to it.  Just more of a "big city" feel.  

Kansai on the other hand does maintain its sense of "Japanese".  Being home to two of the former capitals (Nara & Kyoto) and the merchant capital of Osaka, the region is where Japan got started years ago and even with the passage of time, the region has maintained a great balance of the old with the new to please the masses.  

Also based on the statistics above, the region has a population equivalent to that of Australia and an economy ranked in the top 20 in the world annually.  As a place to visit or possibly conduct business, I cannot say enough positive things about the region.  

Unfortunately current mass media places too much attention on Tokyo as a destination.  Even most tours aimed at Westerners are Tokyo-based occasionally offering a side trip to Kyoto.  It makes sense though as those are the only two cities that ever get mentioned in mainstream media, however coming all the way to Kyoto from Tokyo (two hours by bullet train) and then not stopping by Osaka, Nara, etc., which are just 30 minutes by local train from Kyoto, does not make much sense to me.  Realizing that the travel itineraries are very tight as they are, it would make more sense to split the time in Tokyo and Kansai equally so that visitors can experience as much of Kansai as possible within their allotted time rather than 1-2 days only in Kyoto as is the norm.  

To sum everything up, when looking to experience the "real" Japan, schedule a trip to Kansai and see for yourself what this great region has to offer.  In the end, only you can be the judge.

Finally, for a great resource on the hot spots ranked by foreigners residing in the area in English and Japanese, please on click on "Destination KANSAI" for more information.









最後に、 関西在住の外国人によって制作された「Destination KANSAI」というオンライン書類をご紹介させていただきます。関西の観光資源を外国人目線でまとめたこの書類。日本人の方にとっても、興味深いものと思います。よろしかったらダウンロードしてお読みください。

Thursday, January 6, 2011

So Where Did Valentine's Day Come From in Japan?   日本のバレンタインの起源は?

With Valentine's Day a little over a month away, I figured that I would throw a little trivia your way fittingly for the season.

a) What year was Valentine's Day introduced in Japan?

b) Where was Valentine's Day introduced in Japan?

c) By whom was Valentine's Day introduced in Japan?

Any ideas?

The answers are as follows:

a = 1936

b = Kobe

c = Morozoff Ltd.

Yes, you can thanks the confectionery and cake company founded in Kobe in 1931 for bringing Valentine's Day to Japan's shores 75 years ago. Naturally geared towards the foreign population in Kobe, Valentine's Day started to be accepted nationally in 1953 with Morozoff being the first to promote the holiday to the masses.

For those of you not familiar with the company, you may be wondering where the Morozoff name originally came from? The answer to that is in Valentine Fedorovich Morozoff. The man who started it all for the company that now operates more than 900 cafes and restaurants in Japan originally hailed from Russia.

Following the Russian Revolution in 1917, Valentine fled to northeastern China and then moved to Seattle before finally settling in Kobe in 1924. In 1926 he opened his own confectionery store before establishing his company five years later. 

A pioneer to say the least, Valentine revolutionized the confectionery industry in Japan, taking it from a Japanese sweets-focused society to creating a community of cheese cake, chocolate and custard pudding lovers.


a) いつ
b) どこで
c) 誰によってもたらさせたでしょう?
a) 1936年
b) 神戸




Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Kyoto Isn't Just Temples & Shrines Says OMRON 京都はお寺と神社だけじゃないらしい

Well-known amongst people working in the medical field, the OMRON brand can be seen on everything from digital thermometers to blood pressure monitors to nebulizers for those with respiratory ailments.  What may not be known as much is that OMRON is just another example of global company coming right out of the heart and soul of Japan in Kyoto.

Established in 1948, the company got its name in part from its location in the Omuro district in Kyoto.  When founder Kazuma Tateishi developed the curling iron several years later as OMRON, the name stuck as the name for the company when it expanded its business to overseas markets.    

In addition to health care, OMRON has the following as its main businesses:

- Industrial automation (ex. safety door switches and temperature controllers)
- Electronic components (ex. sensors and switches)
- Automotive electronics (ex. electric power steering and automotive radio components)
- Social systems (ex. traffic signal controllers and ticket vending machines)

Located in 36 countries around the world, OMRON houses its North and South American head office out of Schaumburg, Illinois, located roughly 30 kilometers (19 miles) to the northwest of Chicago.

An interesting tidbit is that OMRON developed the world's first electronic ticket gate (turnstile), unmanned train station, and automatic cash dispenser in the late '60s and early '70s.  All this from a company in a city that is mainly known for its temples and shrines...





ここでちょっと小ネタなのですが、オムロンは世界で初めて自動券売機、無人駅、そしてATMを作った会社なんです。 1960〜70年代にかけて発明されました。

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

MIKI HOUSE: Osaka Fashion For Your Little Oneお子さんにミキハウスの洋服を

Happy New Year everyone!

As it is the birth of a new year, fittingly today's blog entry is about a company that knows the baby industry like none other - MIKI HOUSE.

Established in 1978 in Osaka, MIKI HOUSE has been making in roads in children's fashion for more than 30 years. The company's founder and current CEO, Koichi Kimura, started the business when he was just 26 years of age.  Seeing an opportunity to satisfy the needs of young parents who wanted fashionable clothes for their children, Mr. Kimura put the wheels in motion to create stylish but at the same time quality children's apparel.

What started out as just one brand has now blossomed to five (outlined below).

- MIKI HOUSE (casual line for boys and girls ages 6 months to 9 years)
- MIKI HOUSE FIRST (line for babies and infants from newborn to 12 months)
- MIKI HOUSE DOUBLE B (American casual denim line for boys and girls ages 6 months to 9 years)
- MIKI HOUSE HOT BISCUITS (colorful line for boys and girls ages 6 months to 5 years)
- MIKI HOUSE COLLECTION (formal line for boys and girls ages 2 to 9 years)

Wanting not to be known as just a children's apparel manufacturer, Mr. Kimura has since expanded the company's offerings to total baby care, publishing, and child-rearing while setting up operations in nine countries globally.

In addition to its focus on improving the lives of children, MIKI HOUSE is a proud sponsor of Japanese olympic athletes.  The past the company has supported athletes in swimming, judo, synchronized swimming, table tennis, tennis, and baton twirling.

MIKI HOUSE is just another example of an Osaka-based company trying to improve the lives of those around us.