SM Ramprasad, assistant vice-president of India operations at Fujifilm, who is at the helm of driving the graphic arts division at Fujifilm, has a special connection to Japan. After all, Fujifilm is a Japanese company. Even his previous stint as a general manager, consumer and commercial products group, was with another Japanese giant, Epson. So, he was the go-to person when we wanted some reading material on some serious analysis of Japanese society. We asked and here is Ramprasad’s top-five recommendations.
1. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden: “A popular romantic novel, the book offers a different perspective of Japanese history and society during WWII,” Ramprasad says. Though the book was adapted into a Hollywood film starring Ken Watanabe and Zhang Jiyi, the book remains a better source.
2. Dimensions of Japanese Society: Gender, Margins and Mainstream by Kenneth G Henshall: Japan remains one of the most intriguing yet least understood nations. This book presents a vital key to understanding the organisation of Japan's society and the behaviour of its people. The Japanese are not driven by a universal morality based on good and evil, but by broad aesthetic concepts based on pure and impure. What they include as 'impure' will surprise many readers.
3. Innovating Out of Crisis: How Fujifilm Survived (and Thrived) as its Core Business Was Vanishing by Shigetaka Komori: “This inspiring book on the turnaround for Fujifilm by our chairman is worth a read,” says Ramprasad. In the book, the CEO who brought Fujifilm back from the brink explains how he engineered transformative organisational innovation and product diversification, with observations on his management philosophy.
4. Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination by Anne Allison: The globalisation of Japanese 'cool' is led by youth products: video games, manga (comic books), anime (animation), and cute characters that have fostered kid crazes. Examining the crossover traffic between Japan and the US, Millennial Monsters explores the global popularity of Japanese youth goods today while it questions the make-up of the fantasies and the capitalistic conditions of the play involved.
5. Japan Design to the New Generation by Akari Matsuura.