166. Matt Alt – Pure Invention: How Japan Made the Modern World

Matt Alt is a Tokyo-based translator, writer, and speaker. He has written for or writes for The New Yorker, CNN, Wired, Slate, The Japan Times, Newsweek Japan, Vice, and more. Matt’s curiosity and love for Japanese culture and inventions have led him to find the creators of what he calls “Fantasy Delivery Devices”; gadgets that changed our lives, things like the karaoke machine, the Walkman, the Nintendo entertainment system, the Gameboy characters like Hello Kitty and the Pokémon. He’s also tracked the roots of strange new forms of digital expression like the Tamagotchi, Emoji, anonymous imageboards, and he discovered how a wild bunch of Japanese creatives has shaped modern life, forging new tools for navigating the weirdness of late-stage capitalist societies. For nearly the last two decades, Matt has worked successfully alongside his wife for a company they started called Alt Japan.

In this interview for the School for Good Living Podcast, Matt joins Brilliant Miller to discuss his latest book called “Pure Invention: How Japan Made the Modern World”.  Japanese culture and inventions are what Matt is passionate about and he’s good at sharing them with the world. In this interview, Matt shares how his 24 years in Japan have helped him understand how language shapes our thoughts and how we see and experience the world. He discusses his take on Japanese spirituality, and how deep-down humans really are the same in some fundamental ways. This interview helps us to grasp how, for Matt, Japanese pop culture has been a key to good living.

“Japanese pop culture and the ways that it is made and consumed, both in Japan and abroad is more than my hobby or my reporting, but it is my lifeblood.”

This week on the School for Good Living Podcast:

  • Alt Japan – The company Matt created and operates with his wife
  • How Matt became curious and passionate about Japan
  • Japanese culture and it’s influenced on the world
  • Japanese spirituality
  • What we can learn from translation and interpretation
  • Keys to Good Living found in Japanese culture

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