Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Tokyo Diary Day 2: American Japanese Blogger Association gets a Shinto Blessing....Meeting With METI Officials

Posted by Tom Foremski - June 5, 2008

It's raining. But we have umbrellas as we make our way to the Kanda Myojin shrine where many businessmen go to receive a good luck ritual blessing from the priests.

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There are quite a few IT companies in the area and this shrine has a special talisman that is in the shape of a microchip.

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We created the American Japanese Bloggers Association (AJBA) for the purpose of the ritual blessing and I was appointed chairman. The ritual consisted of prayers, drums, and the swishing of branches. I sit on a stool and am handed a small branch with leaves attached. I recieve it with both hands and place it on a small altar with the end pointing to the back of the shrine. I bow twice, and clap my hands twice, I bow again and sit down.

If you ask Japanese people which religion they belong to, 90 per cent say Budhist, and 90 per cent say Shinto. They combine the two. Shinto celebrates nature and it belives that there is a god in everything, a stone, a tree. In Shinto there are 8 million gods. I much prefer this form of pantheism to the monotheism of Christianity with its angry and evangelical "sky-god" as Gore Vidal terms it. [Please see the excellent: Gore Vidal Monotheism and Its Discontents]

We walk around the shrine, I love the many roofs. We find a small tea shop nearby and have some sweet Japanese porridge and some grean tea.

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Next stop is a meeting with officials with the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry. We take the subway to the Kasumigaseki district where all the cabinet ministry office building are located. While I'm on the train, the doors open at one of the platforms and from behind me I hear "Hello Tom, what are you doing here?" It's my former boss at the Financial Times, Paul Abrahams!
"I'm off to a briefing at METI, what are you doing here?" I ask. Paul tells me he is working at Nomura Group one of the world's largest financial services companies.
There are 6 billion plus people in the world and we keep bumping into people we know. That means we don't get out much! At least, not much outside our social and business circles. That's the small world.
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We hear about Japan's plans for IT investments, its newly created Genius program and an initiative that seeks to apply a unique Internet ID to everything. A little like Shinto's belief there is a unique deity associated with every object.
Coming up next on SVW Tokyo Diary: Meeting with Japanese Web 2.0 entrepreneurs and a visit to a "garage" startup, more like a "closet startup :-)

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