De Mente attributes the special knowledge and skills of the Japanese to the premise that they are primarily right-brain oriented as a result of their vowel-heavy language—a linguistic circumstance they share with only one other group of people: the Polynesians of the South Pacific.
He quotes Japan’s noted brain authority Dr. Tadanobu Tsunoda [author of The Japanese Brain and many other works] on how the Japanese tend to first process information in the right side of their brains—the side that deals with feelings rather than facts; a factor that is readily discernible in their arts and crafts as well as in their traditional management practices.
“In the Japanese mindset, aesthetics and form play an equal role with functionality,” De Mente says, adding: “and it is this cultural element that is responsible for the extraordinary beauty of such common things as their bowls, vases, paper doors, room dividers, kimono and yukata.”
De Mente says that the fact that the Japanese are able to use both sides of their brains gives them significant advantages over strictly left-brained people in designing and manufacturing products from arts and crafts to electronic devices.
In addition to such topics as emotions vs. reason, the “fuzzy” [holistic] thinking of the Japanese vs. the linear thinking of other people, the diligence factor in Japanese behavior, and quality vs. profit, De Mente identifies a long list of views and practices that distinguish the Japanese from left-brain oriented people—and are important for foreigners to know about.
For foreign readers, one of the more interesting topics in the book may be what foreign women have to do to cope with their left-brain oriented male counterparts.
About the Author
De Mente wrote the first ever books on the Japanese way of doing business (Japanese Etiquette and Ethics in Business in 1959 and How to Do Business in Japan in 1962), and was the first to introduce the now commonly used Japanese terms wa, nemawashi, kaizen, tatemae-honne, shibui, sabi and wabi to the outside business world!
His 70-plus other books run the gamut from language learning to the night-time "pink" trades in Japan, the role of bars, cabarets and geisha houses in business, the sensual nature of Oriental cultures, male-female relations, and understanding and coping with the Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Mexican mindset in business and social situations.