Currently, it takes some time to respond to comments because I have some other things I have to prioritize.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ryoshin Ichi - the conscience market

"Ryoshin Ichi" is a kind of market observed in Japan.
Ryoshi means conscience, and Ichi means market.
When you visit Ryoshin Ichi, there's no one working at the place. All you can see are vegetables and some other products neatly displayed.
Whoever sells products at Ryoshin Ichi believes in the conscience people have.
All they do is placing vegetables and a can or box where customers are supposed to put money in.
Even I, as Japanese, think it's unbelievable that Ryoshin Ichi still exists in this highly modernized society (although they are located in less modernized areas).
Jesus Christ tells Christians to favor neighbors. I'm curious how he would react to this system which completely depends on 100% unconditional reliance on people - people who are completely unknown. Don’t you think Ryoshin Ichi represents the Christian ideology?






What do you feel about Ryoshin Ichi?

8 comments:

  1. Wow, that must need a lot of faith in people! I've seen something similar down in Texas but only once. I hate to think we can't trust our fellow Humans, but there are always a lot of dishonest people in every society. I can't imagine something like that being put up in Columbus, Ohio- it would be picked clean in a day. All it takes is a few dishonest people to ruin something like that..

    I think it says many positive things about the owners, that they have so much faith in the people around them to be honest, they must have very good characters. Unfortunately..i feel it will hurt them badly in the end. Even in the best of societies some people are dishonest, and unless they have a large markup in the price- even one stolen peace will offset several being bought honestly.

    Yes,i think it dose share the same priciples of Christan ideology, but sadly much of that has been rooted out in modern society. People who abide by religious ideals are often taken advantage of by dishonest people, leading them to pick and chose who they are trusting to, which eventualy weeds out the whole idea over time.

    For example, in Judaism they used to have a holiday called "Jubilee" every 7 years where they would forgive debts. Unfortunately this was quickly put to an end by dishonest people who would take out large debts only to have them forgiven at Jubilee.

    Charity is still very big here, 300 billion dollars a year are given to private charity organizations, that distribute it to needy people that request it, and many lay items out for people to come and pickup. It works on the same concepts as Ryoshin Ichi, but It's not completely unstaffed, they always have at least one person watching to try to deter some of the dishonest people.

    I really wish these people who own Ryoshin Ichi the best, but i can't help but feel many people will take advantage of their trust and kindness and that makes me very sad..

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  2. [I've seen something similar down in Texas but only once.]
    What did it look like? How did it differ from the Japanese one?

    [Unfortunately..i feel it will hurt them badly in the end.]
    The time will probably come sooner or later, but let me just praise the existence of Ryoshin Ichi for now.

    [For example, in Judaism they used to have a holiday called "Jubilee" every 7 years where they would forgive debts.]
    Intriguing system… Did it work as a system to redistribute wealth?

    [Charity is still very big here, 300 billion dollars a year are given to private charity organizations]
    I heard it was fairly profitable to administer NPO in the US. Do you think it’s true? What do you think of those who see charity as lucrative business?

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  3. [What did it look like? How did it differ from the Japanese one?]

    It was vary similar, but but on a much smaller scale. They dealt in special rocks, Obsidian, granite, limestone- pretty and rare rocks, not really somthing worth stealing. It was only one large shop, it wasn't a whole market and the family did 'work' therean hour or two a day, but i'd imagine it was only to restock, collect the money, and make sure the store didn't burn down.

    It was still quite a sight to see..i had never seen somthing like it before, but Texas is a different place than up North, they have a lot more old school values. In Texas you can make a contract with a simple handshake, and not sign any papers- a laughable practice in the North as 'nothing is going to be done, until it's on paper'... They seem to place great value on honesty. I do hear the cities are not like that though, the locals told me the cities acted as if they belonged in the North.

    [Intriguing system… Did it work as a system to redistribute wealth?]

    Hmm..i think they did on a small scale, but I'm not Jewish so i'm afraid i may misunderstand it and accidentally give a false account on what they acually do.

    From what i understand, they belive a person is judged primarily based on their good and bad deeds in life. Giving people the benefit of the doubt, and helping them whenever possible are thought of as good merits that will be rewarded upon their death.

    When this enters politics, it can be taken as redistribution of wealth, but nothing on the scale of socialism. They tend to prefer more public benefits aimed at the poor, rather than higher taxes for the rich and lower for the poor. (At least from what i've observed) But again, i could be misrepresenting them..so i hesitated to say that.

    [I heard it was fairly profitable to administer NPO in the US. Do you think it’s true? What do you think of those who see charity as lucrative business? ]

    Hmm..Some may pay good salaries to their employees and administrators, the Red cross unfortunately is going down that path. I hear 1/3rd of every dollar they receive goes to pay wages and expenses needed to operate the organization. I don't know if that is normal, or if it's a recent trend- but it seems rather wrong to me.

    The Salvation army (almost as big) on the other hand uses mostly volunteers and donations. It's not quite as organized, or reacts as fast- but they are a lot more efficient with their money.

    Thats a good question..I'd like someone to explain it to me too xD

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  4. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and opinions. They deepened my knowledge.
    It must be so exciting that people can encounter different ways like Texas within one country. I wanted to travel around the US while I was there, but time and the budget didn’t allow :(

    Do you think it’s possible that the vigorous activities by NPO and individuals simply reflect the lack of the support from the government?
    Is it possible that people continue volunteering and donating simply because it makes people feel more comfortable than redistributing through the government?
    Is it possible that people are feeling guilty of being a part of the unequal society deep inside, and that people do charity so they can be acquitted?
    Please forgive me if these questions are offensive. I’m just a curious man who loves to ask questions.

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  5. Aw i know how you feel, I've wanted to visit Japan for the longest of time- but it's so expensive to fly half way across the world! :P

    [Do you think it’s possible that the vigorous activities by NPO and individuals simply reflect the lack of the support from the government?]

    Hmm thats a touch cultural subject that I'm not sure i could do a good job of explaining. Historically people here want to rely on themselves, and seem to hold a great deal of mistrust toward the government who is often seen as incompetent, inefficient, and unreliable- and even vilified sometimes.

    This dates back to the civil war (1861-1865) where there had been a great argument over the authority of the federal government was allowed to exert. The Federal government believe it was in their power to overrule state governments on domestic maters, this point of view was supported by the North or the "Union". In contrast the states of the South (CSA, or confederacy) believed the Federal government's only role was setting foreign policy, handling national defense, and taxing just enough to support these actions.

    The people of the South believed very strongly in self reliance, while the people of the North believed more in a 'collective society' where the state government would take care of many services and seek to take responsibility for caring for the poor, and in general being more bureaucratic.

    Although the North won the war, and the country underwent some very troublesome times, much of the cultural differences remain between North and South. The North east coast is far more liberal, who seeks a style of government involvement similar to the Western European countries. In the North the government handles services such as trash collection, homeless shelters, welfare, and practice a style of centralized government.

    She Southern states (Texas especially) are more conservative, and do not have (at least the area i visited) services like trash collection, welfare, homeless shelters run by the government. Instead they are operated privately, and people donate to charities far more often who take care of welfare service and distribution.

    There are pros and cons with each system, for example a 4 bedroom house and 1 acre of land may cost 300,000$ in the North, but that same house will cost 80,000$ in the South. I was quite shocked at the price differences, land is 1/20th the price in Texas than it is in Ohio, and taxes are very very low compared to the North.

    However in the North, the quality of life is much higher, as the average person makes 10,000$ more a year and has a higher average lifespan, and most people weigh normal weights- though it is still nothing as excellent as the Japanese ( you must tell us your secret! :P)

    Uh..sorry i think i drifted way off topic and ranted, i don't even think i answered the question! lol >_< :P

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  6. I think you have the right idea, that the high level of charitable activity is due to lack of governmental involvement, but i also think thats what a lot of people want. The government has not done a good job at helping people, but it's not due to lack of trying, but rather lack of efficiency.

    Politics seem to get caught up in everything unfortunately, and welfare is no exception, leading to silly policies that NPO do not have.

    [Is it possible that people continue volunteering and donating simply because it makes people feel more comfortable than redistributing through the government?]

    Yes, i think that is an excellent observation. I think you just summed up everything i wrote above ( or what i was trying to say :P) When people are taxed, and that money goes to helping the poor- people feel as if it had been forced on them, Yet when people volunteer to help, and send their money to a respectable NPO they feel it was completely of their own choice. It's not that people do not want to help the poor, it's just Americans don't like being told what to do..it's quite funny really..

    A few years ago the government placed a ban on selling the old incandescent lightbulbs in a attempt to make lighting more energy efficient, yet a lot of people became upset because they no longer had the choice to buy 'energy efficient bulbs' of their own free will. Even though everyone agreed that fluorescent light bulbs are cheaper, last longer, and emit more light, it became a big issue that led many people to hoard many years worth of the less efficient incandescent just to spite the government.

    and again I'm off topic.. xD

    [Is it possible that people are feeling guilty of being a part of the unequal society deep inside, and that people do charity so they can be acquitted?]

    Well there is a segment of the population that thinks something like that, but they also tend to give less money to charity in favor direct government intervention. I've never thought that way myself, i give about 10% of all the money i earn to charity because i know there are less fortunate people than myself, and i want to help them have a easier life.

    Giving to charity is also tax deductible, which i think is a very large reason many people prefer to give. I think that you can deduct a percentage of what you donated to charity from how much money you owe the government in taxes a year. I'm still not completely sure just how much i can deduct ( I've never done it before :P)

    [Please forgive me if these questions are offensive. I’m just a curious man who loves to ask questions.]

    Oh no, I'm not at offended at anything, I'm very flattered in fact! ^-^ I love talking to you, i think you are very interesting, and i love learning about Japan :D

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  7. Hounour system~ We have this in some areas in Canada! :) And Im happy to say it works!

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  8. [Hounour system~ We have this in some areas in Canada!]
    So, it's called "honor system." Thanks for increasing my vocabulary.
    Can you tell me where I can see the photos, or the descriptions of the market in your coutry. I'm curious what it's like.

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