Day 21 – Challenge and Innovation

The day begins with a ride to the northern end of my subway line to a park called Hattori-Ryokuchi Park. It’s a nice quiet Saturday morning and I’m away from the bustle of Osaka and Shinsaibashi,  there seem to be very few people at this park (actually there are lots of people in the’s just that the park is so big you don’t notice).  I think if I lived in Osaka,  I would come to this park a lot!

The park even caters to blind people…It’s a huge park with barbecue areas(the smell of bbq meat reminds me a shish-kebab, and probably for the first time in three weeks I’m a little homesick) … there are also baseball fields, a youth hostel, a water-theme park, flower gardens huge lagoonsthat contain microstructured plants! and forested areas with angry crows and the

Open-Air Museum of Farmhouses

Now these farmhouses are from the Edo period and from all different parts of Japan…they are NOT reconstructions, they are the original farmhouses.

Since I had a quiet pleasant stroll through them,  I’ll just let you enjoy the images as well, with only a few comments

This is a device for pounding rice (the owner of this farm was also a sake producer)These last two images show a raised storeroon…the ladders and supports are made of a special wood that is so hard that mice cannot get their claws to cut into it…so they can’t climb up!Not sure what this last device does but you are allowed to play with all teh artefacts in the houses…even though some are regarded as national treasures (wierd!!)

The owner of this house was so rich they had an inside toilet…they produced silkfrom silkworms which they kept in the second floor

of their farmhouse (more like a mansion). This particular farmhouse comes from Shirakawa, Gifu where the entire village is UN Heritage listed!!There are even separate parts of the house for the horses. I could imagine living in such a nice farmhouse…and finally with wooden farmhouses you need a local fire-engineI think I will add this to my list of best museums in Japan. I recommend it to anyone and would go back again! I wanted to buy the english guide book, but they had sold out, but after some conversation I got the publisher’s website and might order it online.

Next, after a bit of research I have found the correct location of the

Entrepreneurial Museum of Challenge and Innovation (EMCI)

No wonder it was difficult to find last week…my previous map was wrong! It is in the basement of the Business Innovation Center Osaka. This building has an amazing image of several “businessmen” all rowing together in a boat…but doesn’t this boat look like it is headed downstream?

What I thought would provide for an amusing tale to tell Maryanne and Simon becomes a quite interesting museum visit. There is a fully designed tour of this museum for foreigners! It starts with a 13 minute video called “the Origin of Osaka’s Entrepreneurial Spirit”…a bit cheesy but really good history from as far back as my good friend Toyotomi Hideyoshi setting up the first economic zone in Osaka… in japanese they say “Osaka is the kitchen of Japan”. The video ends with an image of a double helix, challenge and innovation,  the people and the businessmen are what will lead to future evolution of Osaka.

Their is an audio tour guide that goes through 20 thematic encounters with business sectors and the men (sorry, only one woman was mentioned during the entire tour…she was the wife of the man who invented mosquito coils the idea of making it a coil was her idea) who founded various world-famous companies.  I think I’m going to skip some of them, BUT, it is incredibly well presented and actually amazingly interesting and I listen to the whole thing.

There were 20 sections with about 5 men mentioned in each section, my favourite were

2. Turning Osaka into a Manchester of the Orient (never realised why manchester was called manchester till now…obvious huh)

10. Bringing western tastes to the dining table


20. Investing modern culinary tastes.

All the greatJapanese companies are mentioned somewhere  Suntory, Sanyo, Daimaru, Takashimaya, Sharp, Sumitomo, Panasonic, Hitachi, Mitsubishi etc.

So here are some amusing photos of the great businessmen of Osaka and some of the things they did…

Of course we have to start with this sexy man,  yes he is the great entrepeneur of Sekisui House, how could he not be here! It’s like his eyes follow you everywhere!

Now there was this one guy who invented a sort of double adaptorThis was important because in those days people paid for their electricty based on the number of outlets on the wall, this adapter meant you could use twice as much electricty for the same price…now I assume he didn’t work for teh electric company!

Remember the GLICO man from the billbaords above Dotomborihe is the icon of chewing gum that contains an extract from the left-over oyster juice from seafood markets (glycogen) which gives children energy to run!!

Another great entreopeneur was ANDO Momofuku, the inventor of instant noodles…here is a passage from his famous textbook on intellectual property

23. The more objections a patent encounters the more powerful it is. A patent which is not threatening will just be ignored.A patent which comes into existence over objections is always powerful.

Now I musn’t forget to mention 降民具 祭文 (Furemingu Saimon)..whose name apparently can be translated as “the precipitous fall of everyday goods to honor the Gods” … he was famous for leveraging his synergies 😉

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