Kamakura – three hours in Japan’s ancient capital

published in The Wallstreet Journal’s “three hours in…” series

(this is the unedited original manuscript, Wall Street Journal printed an edited and shorter version)

Guest guide Gerhard Fasol takes you to his favorite town in Japan.

Kamakura – Your Guide:

Gerhard Fasol, Founder and CEO of Eurotechnology Japan KK, a group of hands-on Japan experts, who build and expand the Japan business for US and EU high-tech companies and vice-versa.

Kamakura – Where he’d go:

I take a Yokosuka-Line JR-train to Kamakura, about 50 minutes from Tokyo. On the train I read the book “Kamakura – Fact and Legend” written by Japanese Countess Iso Mutsu (睦磯, née Gertrude Ethel Passingham) around 1918.

Kamakura – What he’d do:

From Kamakura station it’s a 10 minute taxi ride to Houkokuji (報国寺) Zen temple founded in 1334 by Ashikaga Ietoki. I’ll walk up the narrow path to the temple, admiring the lush gardens and the moss. Near the back of the bamboo forest, I’ll order macha (Japanese green tea, made by whipping hot water and green tea powder with a special bamboo whisk). I’ll sit on a bench under the red umbrellas, listen to the waterfall, watch the beams of light through the dense bamboo trees and recover my peace, away from Tokyo’s intense life. It seems worlds away from the 30 million metropolis. I’ll drive 15 minutes to Yuigahama beach (由比ヶ浜海岸), and if it’s summer I’ll take my kids for a swim on the shore of the Sagami Bay and drink a cocktail in one of the beach houses, while my kids eat kakikouri (かき氷, shaved ice with syrup). To return we’ll take the Enoden railway along the Shonan beach back to Fujisawa.

Kamakura – Why you should go:

Kamakura is a jewel and a lifetime is not enough to discover all of it’s treasures. Today Kamakura is a city of art, history, tranquility and peace. It was not always so peaceful. You need to take a closer look to discover that it was also a place of ferocious fighting and many battles for power. Many artifacts in Kamakura, and warrior’s graves, remind of Japan’s “war of roses” 900 years ago – between the Minamoto (also called Genji) clan represented by white, and the Taira (or Heike) clan represented by the red color. In 1180 the victorious Yoritomo of the Minamoto clan set up his headquarters in Kamakura, which remained the focus of government – and the power struggles which come with it – for about 300 years. Gone are the horses and swords – since the Yokosuka railway opened for business in 1889, instead of warriors, about 17 million tourists invade Kamakura every year.

Copyright·©2013 ·Eurotechnology Japan KK·All Rights Reserved·

Electronics industry Telecommunications

SANYO – NOKIA CDMA2000 JV (Interview for CNBC)

Was interviewed today about the announced JV between SANYO and Nokia for CDMA2000 phone handsets (I added some corrections here):

[Q1] How will SANYO benefit from this, since they are the ones who have the technology, what do they hope to gain from working with Nokia? Or is this merely a way to reduce costs for the company, since it’s struggling to remain profitable?

It is clear to me that NOKIA will benefit, since NOKIA needs 3G know-how from Japan because all markets where NOKIA is dominating are behind compared to Japan in 3G development, and also NOKIA needs a lot of other advanced technology from SANYO.

Of course who benefits depends both on the contract conditions and the relative strengths of the parties.

It’s clear that financially NOKIA is the much stronger of the two. NOKIA is financially very strong, while SANYO is in a very weak position, so it’s a very clever move for NOKIA.

[Q2] Is it already too late for Nokia to make such a move in the CDMA 2000 market, with strong players like Samsung, LG and Motorola already entrenched in the market?

I don’t think it’s too late – both Motorola and NOKIA demonstrated rebounds recently with new design initiatives such as Motorola’s RAZR and NOKIA did a successsful turn-round by introducing clam-shell phones a trend which NOKIA had missed by not being linked sufficiently into Japan before.

To succeed you need to make spectactular phones which match consumer needs, and you need the financial and manufacturing power as well as the brand. The combination of SANYO‘s technology with NOKIA’s financial strength and brand, as well as NOKIA’s efficient supply chain are a good basis.

[Q3] When would you expect to see the benefits of such a move to emerge?

I think one should not underestimate the cultural risks. NOKIA and SANYO have extremely different corporate cultures, and we have seen many cases where corporate cultures lead to great difficulties.

I think the key will be to manage the difference in corporate cultures of two very proud companies. Locating the JV in the USA might help.

SONY-Ericsson has demonstrated that such a JV can be successful. In the case of SONY-Ericsson it has taken several years for the JV to succeed. If one takes SONY-Ericsson as a measure, then it might take a couple of years (3-4 years) for this JV to succeed. If it’s faster than that it will be a positive surprise.

Copyright (c) 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Galagapos effect Telecommunications

Why are keitai so hot in Japan?

Seminar announcement

The European Institute of Japanese Studies (EIJS Academy in Tokyo) of the Stockholm School of Economics will hold a seminar in Tokyo-Marunochi on Thursday, February 16, 2006:

Topic: “Why are Mobile Phones (Keitai) so hot in Japan? – and How European companies in all sectors can profit from Keitai”

Speaker: Gerhard Fasol

Gerhard Fasol
Gerhard Fasol


Japan created the most passionate and most advanced mobile communications (keitai) market in the world. Recently, almost all innovations in mobile communications have been developed or brought to market first in Japan. Fasol’s talk will explain why this is, and how European companies in all fields, from retail to publishing can profit by building keitais into their business models.

Date: Thursday, February 16, 2006

6.15 – 7.00 p.m. Drink and Snack (served before the lecture)

7.00 – 9.00 p.m. Lecture and Discussion

Marubiru Conference Square, Room 2 (Tel: 03-3217-7111)
8th floor of Marubiru, 2-4-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
One-minute walk from JR Tokyo Station, Marunouchi South Exit

Fee: JPY2,000 per person, payable at the door
Free for students, please bring your student ID
Free for those who are from sponsoring companies

Advance registration required: Please sign up (via email) or fax to (FAX 03-3212-1530) for the attention of Ms. Futagawa (EIJS Tokyo Office.)

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