We think of Japan as being infatuated with all things high-tech. It’s why Apple loves the place; Japanese consumers gobble up the latest iPad and iPod offerings voraciously.
However, there’s one piece of old, old technology for which Japanese consumers still have an unaccountable love — the humble and outdated fax machine.
In the United States we view fax machines as relics—but not at all charming and quaint like, say, an Underwood typewriter. It’s a pain to deal with fax machines and remember all those numbers. And that screeching modem sound? We can certainly live without that.
But in Japan, the fax machine, despite the rise of email, is booming.
Loving the fax
A recent story by BBC News took a closer look at the prominence that the fax machine still holds in Japan. The BBC cited a survey by the Internet Fax Research Institute that found that an amazing 87.5 percent of Japanese businesspeople consider the fax machine to be an indispensable business tool.
The BBC starts its story by interviewing a public-relations expert at a Japanese talent agency. Instead of emailing a proposal for a new project, the public-relations pro was handwriting a letter and faxing it.
His explanation? Communicating in this way better allows his feelings and passions come through.
Handwriting still king
This isn’t unusual in Japan. According to the BBC story, handwriting remains important. In fact, most job seekers handwrite their resumes because Japanese employers judge people’s personalities and character in part from the way they write.
It’s why Japanese holiday cards are almost never sent electronically.
Hard copies are a must
The BBC story says that Japanese people also prefer to hold actual hard copies of documents and correspondence in their hands. This way, there is a more tangible record of what was said during meetings and what was proposed during business workshops.
It might be difficult to imagine in the United States, but there is a high-tech land in which the fax machine isn’t considered a nuisance. So if you’re a fan of the humble fax machine, consider taking a trip to Japan. You’ll get some great food, see some amazing sights, and you’ll be able to enjoy the screeching sound of fax machines in the air.