Steve Jobs and Japan: A Lifelong Romance

Steve Jobs and Japan: A Lifelong Romance

It’s a well-known fact that the late Steve Jobs was obsessed with simplicity and aesthetics, two traits that he drove into the core of Apple and will outlive him. What’s been less clear until his passing is how much those traits, his worldview, and the business that defines his legacy came from a lifelong affection for and interest in all things Japan.

Japanese tech journalist Hayashi Nobuyuki, who has covered Apple for years does a brilliant job chronicling Steve’s love of Japan in a piece for Nippon.com that I can’t recommend highly enough. A few of the tidbits can also be found in Walter Isaacson’s biography, but there are plenty of surprises to be had, as well. In particular, the stories of his vacations in Kyoto, the artisans and designers whose products he bought with regularity, and the time when he threatened to renounce the world and become a monk.

It’s a nice, pleasant read, perfect to enjoy with a cup of green tea and a headache. Happy New Year, everyone!

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  • Pavlo Levintovich

    Jobs never exhibited anything particularly Japanese about him or his products though, besides maybe the white color on some models. He lacked the politeness, subtlety and orderliness of the Japanese people and his products had a soft appearance with rounded corners, which are in stark contrast to the often arched, angular Japanese aesthetic. 
    No doubt he liked Japan, but he probably didn’t understand it. 

  • Steven Zahl

    The Japanese loved Apple products.  I guess they see the beauty in Steve’s vision.

About the author

Pete Mortensen

Pete Mortensen is a design strategist for consulting firm Jump Associates and the co-author of Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy, a book and blog that are significantly more interesting than you might initially think. Pete's particular Apple avocations are both around design--interface and industrial. Follow him on Twitter!

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