Secret for Innovation: the Shokunin spirit of Japan

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The Japanese word shokunin is defined by both Japanese and Japanese-English dictionaries as ‘craftsman’ or ‘artisan,’ but such a literal description does not fully express the deeper meaning. The Japanese apprentice is taught that shokunin means not only having technical skills, but also implies an attitude and social consciousness. … The shokunin has a social obligation to work his/her best for the general welfare of the people.  This obligation is both spiritual and material, in that no matter what it is, the shokunin’s responsibility is to fulfill the requirement.” – Tasio Odate

One of the most important things I have learnt about in Japan is the spirit of Shokunin. It means craftsmanship, however it is much more than that. One of the essential things is to make something for the joy of making it, and to do it carefully, beautifully, and to your utmost best of your ability. In Japan one can see this in the incredible delicate designs, or amazing machinery, and even the pride and perfection of even the cleaning staff. Similarly for a student, designer, or technologist, if you can have the Shokunin spirit you can learn to strive for innovation and make something, not only think of something, but make it, to as much as possible perfection.