October 16, 2018

The Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo has steadily grown into an international brand known for its inexpensive but stylish designs. As you might expect, maintaining this image requires the company to strike a delicate balance between creating interesting products and keeping costs low. That’s why Uniqlo recently announced that robots have replaced 90 percent of the staff at one of its warehouses.

Along with drastically cutting costs, the company’s newly automated warehouse will also be able to operate 24 hours a Continue reading

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June 16, 2017

In Japan you can buy almost anything from a vending machine: hot tea, sushi, umbrellas, even bread in a can. This video takes a look at the economic and cultural factors that have contributed to Japan’s vending obsession, such as an excess of coinage and a shortage of unskilled labor.

Questions:

  1. How does Japan’s low birth rate contribute to its vending machine culture?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of relying so heavily on vending machines?
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July 14, 2016

Since Pokémon Go’s launch last week, the mobile app has rapidly grown into a phenomenon with millions of wannabe Pokémasters around the world. In this “augmented reality” game, players literally roam streets, parks and landmarks on a search for the famed “pocket monsters” of the Japanese franchise. When one of these creatures appears on a user’s smartphone screen, they can then capture it to add to their collection. The ultimate goal for players is to abide by Pokémon’s longstanding slogan, Continue reading

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