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Five Japanese inventions that have changed the world

Few countries have done more than Japan to describe the technical world of today. Toshiba was the first to manufacture them on a consumer basis. A Japanese innovation, too. In reality, according to Forbes’ study, Japan is home to almost 10% of the world’s most innovative firms. Yet Japan ‘s artistic prowess is all too much ignored, with most people focused solely on areas like Silicon Valley or Tel Aviv. As these five inventions prove, that’s a misunderstanding – Japan has offered the world much more than karaoke, pokemon, and instant ramen noodles.

Bullet Train

Until the Hikari No. 1 was introduced in October 1964, commuting by rail between Tokyo and Osaka – Japan’s two main cities – will take the better part of a working day. Yet with a maximum speed of 210 km / h, the first bullet train in the world shortened the journey to 4 hours. Today, due to further technical advances, the ride takes just over 2 hours, soon to be shortened to about an hour.

Pocket Calculator

You’re out for dinner with a bunch of friends, and the bill is coming. What’s the first thing you’re going to do? Hold your mobile and switch to the calculator application. This useful little instrument resulted in a Japanese invention: a pocket calculator. You ‘d actually need massive pockets to take one around with you – the first ones were intended to sit on your desk instead – but it was definitely simpler than lugging an abacus to the restaurant.



Think the iPod has revolutionized the music industry? It’s false. When Apple ‘s products entered the market in 2001, the movement was well underway, due to a Japanese innovation that came decades earlier: Sony’s Walkman. Before the Walkman, the best way to listen to music on the go was to use a handheld radio.

Blue LED lights

In the early 1990s, three Japanese scientists – Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura – initiated a revolution in lighting when they were able to produce blue LED light from their semiconductors. The breakthrough paved the way for energy-efficient television, smartphone and computer devices, and power-saving light bulbs. It was identified as having the ability to revolutionize the 21st century, and the three scientists were awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Android Robot

Formerly relegated to the world of science fiction, androids – robots that look, speak and behave like humans – are now very much a reality, thanks to Japanese inventors. In 2003, researchers at the Intelligent Robotics Lab at Osaka University unveiled DER 01, the first all-talking, blinking and breathing robot, a human-like robot.