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William Edwards Deming and Total Quality Management

William Edwards Deming and Total Quality Management

On October 14, 1900, American engineer, statistician, author, lecturer, and management consultant William Edwards Deming was born. Deming often is referred to as the father of “Total Quality Management.” After World War II, he contributed to Japan‘s economic recovery by recommending statistical methods of quality control in industrial production. His method embraced carefully tallying product defects, examining their causes, correcting the problems, and then tracking the results of these changes on subsequent product…
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Akira Kurosawa and the Rashomon Effect

Akira Kurosawa and the Rashomon Effect

On August 25, 1950, Akira Kurosawa‘s film Rashomon premiered. Rashomon marked the entrance of Japanese film onto the world stage. It won several awards, including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1951, and an Academy Honorary Award at the 24th Academy Awards in 1952, and is now considered one of the greatest films ever made. So, what is so special about this movie and what is the “Rashomon effect”?…
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Henry Faulds and the Forensic Use of Fingerprints

Henry Faulds and the Forensic Use of Fingerprints

On June 1, 1843, Scottish physician and missionary Henry Faulds was born. Faulds became a missionary in Japan, where he worked as a surgeon superintendent at a Tokyo hospital, taught at the local univeristy, and founded the Tokyo Institute for the Blind. He is probably best known for his study of fingerprints, where he became convinced that each individual had a unique pattern. Historic Use of Fingerprints It is believed that fingerprints…
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Hideo Shima and the Bullet Train

Hideo Shima and the Bullet Train

On May 20, 1901, Japanese engineer Hideo Shima was born. Shima was the driving force behind the building of the first bullet train, the Shinkansen, linking Tokyo and Osaka in Oct 1964. Shima also led Japan‘s space development programme until 1977 at Japan’s National Space Development Agency. The Son of a Railway Engineer Hideo Shima was born in Osaka as the son of a prominent railway engineer and educated at the Tokyo…
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Betamax and the Legendary Video Format Wars

Betamax and the Legendary Video Format Wars

On May 10, 1975, Sony released a consumer-level analog videocassette magnetic tape recording format called Betamax. Today, the format is obsolete, having lost the videotape format war to VHS with Betamax recorders ceased production in 2002. A Brief History of Video Recording The first efforts at video recording, using recorders similar to audio recorders with fixed heads, were unsuccessful. The problem was that a video signal has a much wider bandwidth than…
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Sin-Itiro Tomonaga and Quantum Electrodynamics

Sin-Itiro Tomonaga and Quantum Electrodynamics

On March 31, 1906, Japanese physicist and Nobel laureate Sin-Itiro Tomonaga was born. He was influential in the development of quantum electrodynamics, work for which he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965 along with Richard Feynman and Julian Schwinger. Tomonaga was one of the first to apply quantum theory to subatomic particles with very high energies. “Nature was not satisfied by a simple point charge but required a…
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John Milne and the History of Seismology

John Milne and the History of Seismology

On December 30, 1850, British geologist and mining engineer John Milne was born. He is best known for his invention of the horizontal pendulum seismograph (1894). Furthermore, he was one of the European scientists that helped organize the seismic survey of Japan in the last half of the 1800’s. “In comparison with ourselves our world is large, its mountains and valleys are gigantic excrescences on its surface, whilst the elevations and depressions,…
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Hachiko – the Most Famous Dog of Japan

Hachiko – the Most Famous Dog of Japan

On March 8, 1935, Hachiko, a famous Japanese Akita dog passed away, remembered for his remarkable loyalty to his owner, even many years after his owner’s death. Background In 1924, Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo, took in Hachiko, a golden brown Akita, as a pet. During his owner’s life, Hachiko greeted him at the end of each day at the nearby Shibuya Station. The…
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Tōkaidō Shinkansen – the World’s First High Speed Train

Tōkaidō Shinkansen – the World’s First High Speed Train

On October 1, 1964, the world‘s first high speed train, the Tōkaidō Shinkansen started operation between Tokyo and Osaka. With more than 400,000 passengers per working day, it is considered to be the world’s busiest high-speed line. The Origin of the Tōkaidō Shinkansen Even though construction work started in 1959, the plans for the high speed train were made in the 1940s. It was planned to achieve a maximum speed of 150 km/h…
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Yamamoto Tsunetomo and the Way of the Samurai

Yamamoto Tsunetomo and the Way of the Samurai

On June 12, 1659 (other sources report June 11, 1659 – according to the Julian calendar July 13), Japanese Samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo was born. He is best known for the publication of his compiled commentaries and aphorisms about the life of the Samurai under the title of Hagakure, a word that can be translated as either In the shadow the Leaves or The Hidden Leaves. “Above all, the Way of the Samurai…
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