Creativity, productivity, and Tokyo

Japan has always been known as a creative country, country with high efficiency and clever solutions, of which are all reflected through their daily lives, from super advanced futuristic looking vending machines to crazy graffiti art at store front.
I was lucky enough to go on a Tokyo team trip with the social regional team at Ogilvy, below are 5 things I learned in these few days about their creativity.

Work life balance
If you haven’t been to Tokyo, you would probably think that it’s just another busy and stressful city. When I arrived in Tokyo, I was very surprised by how relaxed people were; slowly walking on Harajuku street, hanging out at bars and cafes with friends, and dad playing frisbee with the sons at the park, it’s just not what you would expect from one of the craziest cities in the world. People there get off work at around 6 (sometimes a bit later of course), compared to other markets (especially in Asia), where people easily get off work everyday at 12am, Japanese has more space to be inspired and have their own life outside of work, they know how to relax and keep themselves productive.

I was rather impressed by how hard working Japanese people are. In many markets, people spend 14 hours in the office with 4 hours of Facebooking and being distracted, the Japanese work 6-8 hours with huge focus, very much like how the French and other European countries work. I think many of us in Asia need to learn from the Japanese that hardworking doesn’t mean physically staying in office for longer hours.

Care about details
It’s the details that matter. Many cities (including Hong Kong) offer products and services that look OK or even great from the surface, but they don’t bother to investigate further to give the best, at least not many of them do anyways. For example, there are Italian restaurants in Hong Kong that look completely authentic for the atmosphere, they have great menu, with above average food, but the authenticity would stop there, while the Japanese would study and investigate the history, speak to the Italians about special dishes, figure out the correct table cloth, the perfect ingredients, the wine that’s best paired with the food, the dish presentation, the background music etc. Asian countries tend to settle to do good and above average, which has nothing wrong with it, but Japanese like to try and make things best.

Master a skill
It’s about their passion, Japanese are not afraid of doing what they love. They don’t stop doing what they love because the skill is not appreciated by school or parents. They master what they love to do and they get damn good at them. This is something many people don’t have the guts/ don’t have the chance to do in other Asian countries.

They don’t give a fuck
We were there during Halloween, and it was the best time to see how they just don’t care about how people see them. Halloween is not the only reason for them to be open-minded, they were born with it and they generally just like to enjoy their lives. When it comes to creativity, I think it’s quite important to have fun in mind to be inspired.

There are always great things to learn from other culture, but I’m honestly quite impressed by Japanese’s way of living, the creative, fun, and friendly people are what make the city charming!

- Tim Ho