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post #46 of 48
Desire for mercantile achievement in Japan predates the drive for Westernization. The Edo period was marked by wealthy merchants pushing the envelope of ostentation, with several rounds of sumputuary edicts being passed by the Tokugawas in response.
Well, of course, I am not suggesting that there was no mercantile drive at all before Westernization! But the pervasive ethos of the society was agrarian while the elites were of the military class. There were, of course, a handful of privileged merchants who gained the favor of the Bakufu and did exceedingly well (mainly due to monopoly granted by the same), but this was an exceptionally small minority.

The greatest impetus for mercantile pursuits came after the Meiji Restoration in response to the Western (specifically American) advances, out of Japanese desire to "catch up." Two Americans, in fact, Commdore Perry and General MacArthur can be said to be fathers of modern Japan.
One interesting way to trace the development of materialism in Japan is to look at weaponry. From the Momoyama period on, swords (well, specifically the koshirae or furniture) became much more "blingy." Red lacquered saya (sheaths), gold fittings, etc.
And the "blingiest" of them all was Oda Nobunaga, who took to wearing Western-style armor and employing massed matchlockmen.

It should be noted that the late Senkoku period saw the first Western influences, including Christianity, in Japan. This was also when Japan (until the Tokugawa closures anyway) became a part of the global trading system. Largely inspired by Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch traders who visited Japan regularly, Japanese merchants, for a time, traded actively in Southeast Asia.

Also, in my view, weapons and armor were much more individualized and flowery, before the Mongol invasions, as ritualized individual combat was the norm of warfare at that time.

By the time of the late Senkoku period, Japan had developed its own version of "pike and ball," rendering the traditional Samurai increasingly obsolescent militarily (though still influential as elites, administrators and officers). In fact, I think there is a strong correlations between the increasing "blinginess" of swords (and the rise of the sword cult) and the obsolescence of the Samurai class, reaching the climax right before the Meiji Restoration.
And swords in the Osaka region are thought to be much more showy than ones from the Edo region, owing to the fact that merchants were more influential in Osaka, while bureaucrats dominated in Edo.
I don't know whether that's true or not, but if true, it could be that the Kansai (Osaka-Kyoto) region was the ceremonial center of Japan (hence showiness) while Edo was the seat of the Bakufu, the military government.
post #47 of 48
Originally Posted by Steve B.
When I was researching my book, I had a lengthy discussion with Mr. DeCaro.

He intimated that Gate's handlers like him looking that way. Better to look like he just fell off the turnip truck than the rapacious monopolist he can be at worst, and extremely astute businessman at best.

If his handlers think those are his only choices, he needs an image consultant A colorful, "geeky" tie alone would do much to dispel perceptions communicated by the suit.

Also, that would show something in common with some of his biggest detractors, people in the IT community. Many of them absolutely hate anything "corporate."
post #48 of 48
My theory is that Gates needs to change the prescription of his eyeglasses.
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