Notable Japanese on Strategic Thinking, Fighting Limitations, and More 

Notable Japanese on Strategic Thinking, Fighting Limitations, and More 

Glimpse life as viewed by Japanese visionaries in this curated list of quotes from famous Japanese. 

From Japan's first industrialists, philosophers, sports legends, and more—here are 8 famous quotes from notable Japanese on thinking like a shogi player, fighting limitations, programming as a key to good communication, and other timeless themes.  


1. Makoto Nakahara on strategic thinking

「前進できぬ駒はない。」

Makoto Nakahara on strategic thinking

"There is no piece that cannot move forward."

Makoto Nakahara 中原誠  (1947–), a retired professional shogi player, considered one of the strongest shogi players during Showa (1926–1989), who holds several lifetime titles, as quoted in the book Shogi gishi no meigen: Shobushitachi no kakugo senryaku shiko 100. 


2. Konosuke Matsushita on the nature of success

「最後の最後まであきらめない。成功とは成功するまで続けることである。」

Konosuke Matsushita on the nature of success

“Don't give up until the very end. Success is trying until you succeed.”

Konosuke Matsushita 松下幸之助 (1894–1989), a Japanese industrialist who founded Panasonic, formerly Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., which first started as a manufacturer of light sockets, in his book Jinsei kokoroecho/Shain kokoroecho. 


3. Yuzuru Hanyu on fighting through limitations

「ああ年だな、体が動かないな、そういうことを思う日々もあったけれど、やっていて感じるのは、まだまだ自分は成長できるなということ。」

Yuzuru Hanyu on fighting through limitations

“There were days when I thought, "Oh, I'm getting old. I can't move," but what I feel when I do this [attempting the quad axle] is that I still have room to grow.”

Yuzuru Hanyu 羽生結弦 (1994), two-time figure skating Olympic gold medalist, on training the quad axle at age 26, a move that has yet to be successfully jumped by any figure skater in the world, in an interview with NHK two months after winning the All Japan Figure Skating Championship for the 5th time.  


4. Takeda Shingen on human relationships

「信頼してこそ、人は尽くしてくれる。」

Takeda Shingen on human relationships

“People will work hard for you because you trust them.”

Takeda Shingen 武田信玄 (1521–1573), a leading daimyo (feudal lord) during Japan's warring period, with exceptional military prestige, known for his competent military leadership and strategies, attribution. 


5. Hirotaro Higuchi on seizing the moment

「チャンスは貯金できない。」

Hirotaro Higuchi on seizing the moment

“You can't save up your chances.”

Hirotaro Higuchi 樋口廣太郎 (1926–2012), a Japanese businessman who was president of The Sumitomo Bank, Asahi Breweries, the New National Theatre Foundation, the chairman of Osaka Securities Exchange, and the vice-chairman of The Japan Business Federation, in his book Chansu wa chokin dekinai! 


6. Soichiro Honda on initiating change

「伸びるときには必ず抵抗がある。」

Soichiro Honda on initiating change

“Whenever something stretches, there is resistance.”

Soichiro Honda 本田宗一郎 (1906–1991), engineer and prominent industrialist, who established Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and oversaw its expansion from making bicycle motors to becoming a world-renowned automobile manufacturer, as quoted in the book Honda Soichiro: Otoko no kofukuron.


7. Kano Jigoro on the true enemy one must master

「人に勝つより自分に勝て。」

Kano Jigoro on the true enemy one must master

“Rather than trying to win against others, win against yourself.”

Kano Jigoro 嘉納治五郎 (1860–1938), the founder of Judo and an educator and athlete, who also served as director of primary education for Japan's Ministry of Education from 1898 to 1901, attribution.


8. Satoru Iwata on using programming skills to be a good communicator

「プログラムの世界は、理詰めです。だから、もしも完動しないとしたら、原因は全部、プログラムしたこっちにある。わたしは、人と人とのコミュニケーションにおいても、うまく伝わらなかったらその人を責めずに、自分の側に原因を探すんです。コミュニケーションがうまくいかないときに、絶対に人のせいにしない。「この人が自分のメッセージを理解したり共感したりしないのは、自分がベストな伝え方をしていないからなんだ」と思うようにすると決めたんです。それはきっと、プログラムをやっていたおかげですね。だって、システムが動かないときは、絶対に間違ってるんですよ、プログラムが。」

 Satoru Iwata on using programming skills to be a good communicator

“The world of programming runs on logic. If a program doesn't function properly, all the blame is on whoever programmed it. In communicating with others, if I fail to get my point across, rather than blaming the other person, I will instead consider where I may have been at fault. When communication isn't going well, blaming others never helps. Instead, I tell myself, ‘They're not getting my message or seeing eye to eye with me because I'm not expressing myself as well as I could.’ I'm sure this is the influence of programming. After all, when the system isn't working, your program is absolutely to blame.” 

Satoru Iwata 岩田 聡(1959–2015), video game programmer and designer, fourth president and CEO of Nintendo, in the book, Ask Iwata.


Note: Cover image credit: Photo of Yuzuru Hanyu. David W. Carmichael - davecskatingphoto.com.


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