One of the biggest socioeconomic issues in the developed world right now is the widening income gap between the rich and the not-rich. In the U.S., the gap has become so big that the so-called 1 percent have adopted a siege mentality by isolating themselves from the rest of society, in either gated communities or urban condominium towers.

In Japan the rich are different, or at least, they seem to be. It's often said that in Japan you may live right next door to a millionaire and not know it because his house looks just like yours.

The idea that wealthy people in Japan don't show off their wealth is perhaps grounded in the Japanese stereotype of not wanting to stand out from the crowd. Still, with Japan's stock market on a general roll for the last several years, the Japanese media has started talking about the "superrich" (chō-fuyūsō).