Learn­ing the se­cret of busi­ness suc­cess

The Pak Banker - - OPINION - Yomi­uri Shim­bun

KANDA My­o­jin shrine is con­stantly vis­ited by busi­ness peo­ple pray­ing for their com­pa­nies' suc­cess. The de­ity en­shrined there is be­lieved to be a guardian of Tokyo's busi­ness dis­tricts, in­clud­ing Otemachi and Ni­hon­bashi. It is also known as the main tute­lary de­ity for the town of Edo, the pre­de­ces­sor of to­day's Tokyo. Mer­chants have long felt close to the shrine and still do to­day, hop­ing to make their dreams come true. It was flooded with peo­ple dur­ing the re­cent New Year's pe­riod, peo­ple who came to pray for eco­nomic re­cov­ery. But the god of busi­ness might be deeply puz­zled by a new type of wor­shiper who has re­cently ap­peared. Kanda My­o­jin sits close to the Ak­i­habara district, known as the "hobby cap­i­tal" for pop cul­ture geeks around the world, mak­ing it a holy site for sub­cul­ture fans as well. In the precincts of the shrine, there are rows and rows of ema wooden plates used to make wishes that fea­ture large il­lus­tra­tions of beau­ti­ful fe­male anime char­ac­ters.

Among sub­cul­ture geeks, th­ese colorful boards are known as "ita-ema," or painful plates, be­cause they find them a "painfully" colorful sight. Some young peo­ple use th­ese ema to pray that their fa­vorite works will be a big hit. The shrine also at­tracts many for­eign tourists. Ja­pan has been sur­passed by China in terms of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct, but I can un­der­stand why if I think that Ja­pan's key sales point is now its cul­ture. This year marks the 400th an­niver­sary of Kanda My­o­jin's re­lo­ca­tion to its cur­rent spot. The shrine has a his­tory of in­cor­po­rat­ing mod­ern tech­nolo­gies and trends to keep up with the times. For ex­am­ple, Kanda My­o­jin was the first Shinto shrine to in­cor­po­rate steel frames and steel-re­in­forced con­crete struc­tures into its main build­ing. "The shrine is for peo­ple in the cen­ter of the city, so we haven't re­garded new things as hereti­cal," said Yoshi­hiko Shimizu, 55, a deputy chief priest at the shrine. "We've al­ways co­ex­isted and pros­pered to­gether with them." His words con­vinced me that the con­tem­po­rary pop cul­ture fa­vored by geeks fits into the shrine precincts, where tra­di­tions flour­ish, with­out any sense of dis­com­fort. Ortho­dox and hereti­cal things ex­ist in fu­sion - a way of think­ing that is also es­sen­tial in busi­ness man­age­ment. I was re­minded of Sharp Corp., which has spi­raled into a man­age­rial cri­sis.

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