Lin Qing Xiang, 33, is the social-media manager of the “The Ruby Alan Show” (also known as “The RA Show”), a video blog that explores both Singaporean and Japanese culture. Lin creates travelogues of his journeys around Japan and also films Japanese-culture events in Singapore. A die-hard fan, he loves sharing his knowledge and love of all things Japanese, whether it be cosplay, anime, music or games.
Unless you share most of it, you’ll lose it all. I’m sad to see that Japanese stars are losing their fan bases overseas. The artists are great, but their work isn’t visible enough on the Internet. This is why the whole world is looking at K-Pop (Korean pop). It’s much easier to be a fan of Korean music and anime than of works created by Japanese artists because the Japanese restrict the sharing of images, sounds and all content with outdated copyright laws. It’s tragic for Japan — the whole country ends up losing business opportunities.
If you are not in some database, you don’t exist. The government knows about you but the world does not. Unless we are online it’s as if we have not even been born, or we are like the cavemen were — anonymous.
Ideas run wild when there is freedom and space for creativity. No idea is too silly in Japan. It is a great place for designers, innovators, artists and visionaries. You can do something crazy, wear anything wild and people still treat you with respect and listen to you.
In this era of open source, the origins of information are ever-more important. On Twitter, I tend to be suspicious of people I don’t know in person, as it could be a bot. Although I follow many people who tweet about Japan, I take their tweets with a grain of salt.
When the staff are trained to know products as well as to offer excellent service, you have the world’s best shopping experience. This is how it is done in Japan. I can ask any question about a camera in any electric shop in Japan and the staff will know the answer. It’s the same on the subway, where station employees study maps when they are free so they can be more helpful to passengers.
Keeping a place clean is much easier if nobody dirties it in the first place. Japanese are very well-mannered and well-cultured. Nobody leaves trash lying around here. In Singapore, we have people to clean up after us, but in Japan, everyone helps keep the country clean. For example, people carry their garbage home after a picnic in the park. Then they dispose of it at their apartment buildings — and according to recycling bins.
Show some respect — even to the floor. The people who maintain Tokyo’s subways bend down to clean the floor. They use small tools to scrape up even the tiniest residue of chewing gum. When I see them bending down, I feel that they respect the floor. In Singapore, cleaning people use mops so they don’t need to bend down.
My mission is to create new life, new meaning and new memories. I keep track of my comings and goings using Foursquare, an application I can use to check into a place I am at in order to create my own memory map. I linked Foursquare to my e-mail, Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as to my Google Calendar. I’m tweeting my own memory database.
Once we are online, there is really no way to erase us from the public consciousness. Live performances online by artists are very popular, but I think in the future more people will broadcast their life events. It’s so easy already with Google+, live streaming and Google Hangouts, where we can push the Live Broadcast button and it automatically records. Just install a plug-in and you are set. We can watch videos and slides with online friends located all over the world. We can tag photos and find them using key words later. On Google+ the information will probably be there forever.
If you are a leader — whether political, business or anything else — you should use social media. You should also maintain your account yourself, not have others do it for you. You need a personal touch on all the platforms, from Twitter to Facebook. People are smart; they can tell if an account is handled by the person it says it belongs to or if it’s being done by a staff member. This is why the Singapore government’s plan to become expert on social-media platforms is so preposterous. Social media is not supposed to be official and it can’t be one-way like a website or a blog.
Despite the fast tempo in Japan, there is always a place for you to be alone for self-reflection and meditation. Tokyo is a huge metropolis and it’s very busy, yet you can still find spots to relax — a shrine, a small garden. There are lots of small parks in Tokyo. People respect both public and private spaces, so you can do your soul-searching anywhere.
Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK’s “journeys in japan” Learn more at: juditfan.blog58.fc2.com. Twitter: @judittokyo.