Stuructural Designer on ANA,構造家 A.バーデン

Alan Burden is a structure engineer who was one of our colleagues at the construction of Tokyo International Forum 15 years ago. He came to Japan by himself to see what Japan was like, when the influx of Japanese products damaged British industry 30 years ago. Now he runs design offices in London and Tokyo and goes back and forth between each month. One of his recent projects is the Tsutaya Book Shop in Daikanyama, Tokyo.

The other day on our way back to NY from Tokyo on ANA we saw a TV program that featured him. He is a dashing British gentleman and also a very nice guy (although he looks a look a bit stern in this photograph).  He has a very good sense of humor in the British style . It is not so easy to catch  his jokes  if you do not know him very well. We wanted to tell him ” Wow! Alan, you are now a celebrity and thank you so much for giving us  those natural sleeping pills, they work perfectly over the Pacific Ocean too!!”.


その彼を、 機内放送の番組に出演しているの発見した。先日、東京からNYへのANA便でだった。彼は本物の英国紳士で、この写真よりもずっとナイスガイ。すばらしい諧謔のセンスをもっている(ただし英国式の)。馴れないと彼が冗談を言っているのかどうか、ちょっと解らないときがある。口から思わず、「アラン, 今や有名人だね!くれた睡眠誘導薬、ありがとう、太平洋上でも完璧に作用するよ!」


An unfortunate misreading happened in this program. Along with his previous boss and mentor he said to the camera “ This is the only person in my life I call sisho or master” It is dead true that Alan has huge respect for this gentleman. But Alan was teasing him. The TV director read this differently and set this as one of the main concepts of the program. Their idea was: A foreigner has learned from Japan and has complete respect for the Japanese culture. This unique culture influenced and educated him and contributed to him becoming an internationally recognized figure. On the contrary I think Alan wanted to say something quite different, of course he can have only one sisho, it is impossible by definition to have two…..



He ( seriously ) thinks Japan needs more openness and diversity in its society,  personal relationships and social structures. The strict loyalty of apprenticeship narrows the diversity that their disciples can experience and sometimes encourages their abuse. According to the classical apprenticeship system,  the first thing is that the disciple must start to copy the master. Going to another teacher or school of thought is considered a betrayal.  This same structure is  seen everywhere and it’s closed mind set is hurting the entire society. I like the idea that this video tries to reinforce  self esteem and encourage people after the decades of stagnation. Teaching welcome traditions like dedication and respect to others can be very meaningful, but I do think there are different ways to activate Japan than simply admiring our own culture and being self-comforting. The program also showed that half of his staff are woman and Alan is not a classical boss at all. The program was almost there but in the end missed this point.

Later when I talked with Alan, we discussed that Japan needs more openness and diversity which can open up the rigid conventional mindset and customs, keeping good traditions at the same time.  If Allan who has a great respect for Japanese culture has a chance to read this post he will say that I over-evaluated him. This program will be seen on ANA flights for awhile and presumably other non- Japanese will be featured.

彼は(真剣に)日本が社会や個人間の関係のほとんどすべての場面でもっと開放的で、多様であることが必要だと考えている。徒弟制で求められる厳しい忠誠心は弟子から他のオプションを奪ってしまうし、時には弟子の乱用を不問にする。伝統的な徒弟像では、まず弟子は師匠をコピーすることから始まる。他の指導者やオプションに行くことは裏切りであって、その時は破門されて、新しい流派を始めるしかない。弟子も師匠の傘下で長く耐えれば、安泰と昇進が受けられる。結果、創造への努力が、閉じた集団の内部で費やされ、新しい考えが閉じ込められる。運動部や会社の後輩いじめはその極j端な例で、横柄で高圧的な先輩/上司、従順な部下/後輩のような, これと同形の構造が社会と人間関係の至る所に見られる。その閉ざされた精神構造は社会全体を傷つけていると思う。




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