gooood team interviews creative individuals under 35 years old from all over the world, some are pioneering founders, some are clients, some are ordinary practitioners. gooood is trying to record the authentic living and working states of this era. Your recommendations and suggestions are appreciated!
gooood Under 35 NO.39 introduces FURUICHI Noritoshi, a Japanese sociologist and writer. His book The Happy Youth in a Desperate Country has been published in China.
出品人：向玲 / Producer: Xiang Ling
编辑团队：陈诺嘉，武晨曦 / Editor: Chen Nuojia, Wu Chenxi
©SHINTO TAKESHI 神藤剛
Sociologist and Writer
“ I tried to use sociological writing to analyze the problems of Japanese society from the standpoint of young people. Meanwhile, I was creating novels to discuss on more general topics including death, illness, etc. These are problems that everyone will consider and do not have the possibility to escape from.”
I majored in sociology when I was in college, but I was not planning to become a researcher at that time. My friend and I took venture capital and started a small business. I found that I had a lot of spare time and therefore went to graduate school. My graduate thesis was about the community of young people, for which I documented the relevant sources and put it into a book. After the book being published in 2010, I was invited to write new books while some media started to contact with me. Later I published my second, again discussing on sociological topics of young people. This book had received media attention and consequently initiated my work as a researcher.
I was willing to try a new kind of form to write about things that are not allowed to discuss, or not easy to discuss in sociological works, and this was also the reason why I started writing novels. A turning point occurred in 2017, when my grandmother passed away, and I felt less inclined to work on sociology books or essays. A novel is a much more lyrical and emotional form of writing, allowing the writer to express his or her opinions and ideas without reservation. I thought it was exactly how novels work better. Therefore, I started to continue my creating on novels, and have made a few of them published since 2018.
We have chances to be heard on public media, such as TV news, and what we said may leave an impact on society. Being different from natural science like physics, sociology proposes the task to research on society, and the sociologists themselves are part of the society, which will make it more difficult for the researchers to be neutral. Finding a balance between them, conveying my point of view in a language that is easy for the public to accept, is something that I have always been striving for in my activities of research.
Sociological writing and research are usually about getting an answer or coming up with a hypothesis. Novels are different, because they do not need an answer. I tend to take complicated issues, such as death, as the theme of my novels, yet everyone has a different interpretation of death. In Europe, people may discuss on whether euthanasia is a form of justice. Obviously, it is easier to discuss on such issues in a novel. For example, I could have one of the characters in my story to propose point A, to argue with the other proposing point B, which will finally lead to a better way of unfolding the problems involved.
In my sociological works, I write from the perspective of young people, speaking for them and analyze the problems they face. I published my first book The Hope Refugees when I was 25 and The Happy Youth in a Desperate Country in the following year. At that time, there were various discussion and analysis of young people in Japan, but the voices of young people themselves were not actually heard by the society. For this reason, I tried to use sociological writing to analyze the problems of Japanese society from the standpoint of young people. Meanwhile, I was creating novels to discuss on more general topics including death, illness, etc. These are problems that everyone will consider and do not have the possibility to escape from.
The Hope Refugees, first book of Mr. Furuichi
Good bye, Heisei-kun, novel written by Mr. Furuichi
“对我来说，比起待在同一个世界里，辗转于多个世界之中更有趣 … … 我的关注点与社会潮流相契合，因此我的作品自然而然地被各个领域所接受。”
“Personally speaking, it is more interesting to move around different worlds than staying in the same place … My focuses fitted right in with the trend of the society so that my books were naturally accepted by people from different fields.”
Personally speaking, it is more interesting to move around different worlds than staying in the same place. If I stay only in the world of researchers, what I could do is receiving information, working for an institute or being busy on a thesis if I want to make some output. In contrast, appearing in a TV show or publishing a book for the public can help me gain a larger audience. Therefore, I naturally chose to carry out my practice in a variety of fields.
This will of course lead to difficulties and doubts from other people, especially criticism from traditional researchers who believe that the only right thing for a researcher to do is to stay in the academic world. On the other hand, TV programs have their own rules, which might be against my will, making it more arduous for me to cope with.
▼古市参加电视节目，并出席不同活动，在不同领域均有涉足，Mr. Furuichi participating in television shows and attending various events, working in a cross-boundary manner ©FURUICHI NORITOSHI 古市憲寿
However, I believe that my personal development is consistent with the development of the era. In 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake happened, and that was when I had just started to do TV shows. The earthquake urged Japan to change, and the social was trending to further listen to the voice of young generation. Young people like me were speaking out for themselves through traditional medium, which fit right in with the trend of the society. Ten years ago, many young writers and journalists like me received the same attention. The book I wrote happened to be accordant to the needs of the era so that I didn’t face too many tough things during that period of time.
It was natural for me to expand my activities into different industries. At first, I published Kibo Nanmin and The Happy Youth in a Desperate Country， which brought me the opportunities to express my ideas on TV, newspaper and magazines. After that, I regularly published books with topics like youth entrepreneurship, wars, as well as sub-replacement of fertility and kindergarten facilities. These books were written in consideration of the needs at the time. The problems I focused on were consistent with the concerns of society. These issues could change Japanese society, and they were not confined to television; they were of interest to magazines, academic groups and even to political circles. For this reason, my books were naturally accepted by people from different fields.
Japan: The Strange Country, sociology book written by Mr. Furuichi
誰の味方でもありません, sociology book written by Mr. Furuichi
“对我来说，挑战是自然的，最重要的是尽可能地不在同一个地方停留，建筑师、艺术家、作家均是如此 … … 我希望能把研究范围扩展到不同的国家和地区，以保证内容的多样性。”
“Challenges are natural, and the most important thing is to avoid staying still. This could also be applied to other profession like architects and artists … I hope that I could extend my research to different countries and regions in order to ensure the diversity.”
The biggest challenge I am facing is to stay active, giving opinion and publishing books regularly. For some people, when they have written a popular book or succeeded in one field, they will chose to stay in the same place without changing, which I do not think is a good sign. In addition to sociology writing, I would like to write novels and participate in various television shows. Challenges are natural, and the most important thing is to avoid staying still. This could also be applied to other profession like architects and artists.
I think it is important to create a large number of works. There is rarely a writer who only writes one master piece during his life time. Most of the celebrated writers have produced a mass of works, some of which received high evaluation. From this point we can see the significance of the quantity of the work of a writer. Sufficient works make it possible for an author to be evaluated by the audiences and hence to create better new works. In this way, the biggest challenge for me is to keep working, continuously and earnestly.
Whether it’s being on television or publishing a book, it is all about the needs of the current society. If the society no longer needs me, I will change my way of working accordingly. In other word, as long as the needs still exist, I will continue to be active in different fields. This is the most logical and comfortable way for me to work. When staying in only one world, I feel that my ability is restricted. It is the same circumstance in any other country: continuously working a same thing will make you hard to breathe. People could be locked into judgements and lose the capability to do the things they really love to do. If we could have different options, including parts that we want to do the most and could best exert our strength, A job will become more inspiring and meaningful when it offers different options, especially when there are parts that can encourage one to play to his or her strengths.
I don’t have a life goal that must be approached because my consideration might change and the society itself might change. During the ten years of my professional life, the activities I have taken were based on the most important issues of the time and society, as well as the problems I most concerned. If the society changes, the contents of my work will also change dramatically. Most of my published books take Tokyo or Japan as the theme. I hope that I could extend my research to different countries and regions in order to ensure the diversity. It is impossible for the current Japanese publishing and entertainment industry to only do business in Japan. I also want to have more working opportunities out of the country.
About Sociology Thinking
“我个人认为新冠肺炎的流行不会改变日本社会 … … 解决少子化问题是解决一切难题的根本方法 … … 在新冠病毒的影响下，日本新世代中能出现多少政治家、企业家，也会对此构成影响，目前看来情况不容乐观。”
“I don’t think the pandemic will change Japanese society … Solving the problem caused by low birth-rate is the fundamental solution to all problems … The number of young people who will become politicians and entrepreneurs can also influence this situation, while the current condition is getting more severe, particularly under the impact of Covid-19.”
Recently, people are focusing on the epidemic of Covid-19. Personally, I don’t think the pandemic will change Japanese society. In the history, Japanese society had been influenced mostly by demographic changes or by generational changes after the replacement of authority. The Covid-19 pandemic does not fit into either of these categories. It will exerts certain influence, but will not drastically change the Japanese society.
Another issue that concerns me is what I have mentioned in the book The Compulsory Education of Nursery Schools, which is about the low birth-rate and the aging of population. Low birth-rate is the biggest issue in Japan. After the World War II, from 1960 to 1990, the population of young people was large in Japan. There were numerous young labors and young consumers, resulting in a booming market strong purchasing power and low prices. Currently, as the number of young people is decreasing, there are less labors and consumers and it will be difficult to produce and sell things on a large scale in Japan. Solving the problem caused by low birth-rate is the fundamental solution to all problems, but Japan has always been avoiding it, so the negative influence it brings to the society will continue to grow. In 2040, the Dankai generation born during the baby boom will all be over 65 years old, and I am concerned about what Japanese society will be like then. Many researchers believe that the problem of population aging can be solved through AI and robot technologies. However, since nursing and care work still need a large number of labor forces, I doubt if there will be enough workforces in Japan by that time. The number of young people who will become politicians and entrepreneurs can also influence this situation, while the current condition is getting more severe, particularly under the impact of Covid-19.
The Compulsory Education of Nursery Schools, sociology book written by Mr. Furuichi
“The gap between rich and poor itself will not be a big problem. The most important thing is whether the people at the bottom could be helped or not.”
In Japan, the gap between rich and poor is often coincided with the aging problem. In other words, older people are wealthier while young people possess less money or assets. This has created a huge generational divide in Japanese society. But I don’t think the difference itself will be a big problem. No matter how big the gap is and how wealthier the rich become, the most important thing for society is whether the people at the bottom could be helped. Comparing to addressing the gap between rich and poor, it is more important to reduce the rate of absolute poverty. From this point of view, the world is moving towards a positive direction. Even though the gap between rich and poor is widening dramatically, the quality of life of the poor is being improved, and the average life expectancy in the world is also rising. In old days, people may starve to death. Today, more and more people die from overeating. In this era, people need to re-examine the meaning of “rich”. Although there is a huge gap between rich and poor, improving the quality of life of the lowest class is much more important than rising the standard of being rich. Of course, in order to improve the current status of living, we still have a lot work to do. Nowadays in Japan, poor people are happier than ever before, which is an objective circumstance benefiting from the power of IT and other technologies.
“我心中的理想社会是，无论出生在怎样的家庭，都能凭借自己的能力和努力从事各种各样的工作 … … 现在的年轻人与过去相比，拥有更多自由和可能性 … … 我们应该肯定自由的价值，积极接受并与其共同生活下去 … … 为了应对这种自由, 拥有多种专业技能, 是一种非常现实的生活方式。”
“In my mind, the ideal society is where everybody can engage in various domains depends on their abilities and hard work, no matter what kind of family they come from … Young people today have more freedom and possibilities than in the past … We should recognize the value of freedom and live with freedom … Possessing more than one professional skill could give you opportunities to turn to a new field when you failed the current job. I think this can be regarded as a very practical way to live.”
There is also a big difference between young people who born in wealthy families and the others. While I don’t think the difference itself is a problem, but it will be passed on from parents to their children, which I think is not a good sign. In my mind, the ideal society is where everybody can engage in various domains depends on their abilities and hard work, no matter what kind of family they come from. Young people who have wealthy parents are more likely to get good jobs and become rich, and thus the gap is inherited. This is not what a healthy society should be like. Unfortunately, this kind of inheritance is inevitable in all of the world, including Japan. Such situation is supposed to be changed.
Young people today have more freedom and possibilities than in the past. Currently affected by COVID-19, travelling abroad has become an issue. However, it’s still easier to travel and work today in different countries all over the world than in any previous era. People can work online in long distance and the world is much more integrated than ever before, and this provides young people with plenty of possibilities. The problem is that it’s hard to possess freedom while living a stable life. The freer you were, the less stable your life will be like. Roughly speaking, societies used to be stable but without freedom, and today it’s just the other way around. An unstable society might bring insecure feelings. But thanks to this insecurity, we are able to experience the pleasure of freedom, to recognize the value of freedom and ultimately, to live with freedom.
To become the master of freedom, it is important to acquire professional knowledge. It could be the ability to write, to manage, to interview, to do a massage, to draw, or to do anything. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like some of those. The important thing is to have a variety of abilities and use them to eventually find your own job. In the past, it was normal to work for a company after graduation until the retirement at the age of 60, but now it is different. Some people choose to never work in a company to live free, while many work for a company but do multiple jobs at the same time. Possessing more than one professional skill could give you opportunities to turn to a new field when you failed the current job. I think this can be regarded as a very practical way to live.
“小说可以通过描写特定的人物，更加切身地去思考普遍性的问题 … … 留下自己的作品，获得不同时代的评价，对于创作者来说是一件十分令人开心的事。”
“Novels can engage with the universal problems in a more intuitive way by taking on specific roles in the narrative … It is a very enjoyable thing for the author to leave his or her work to the future and get comments and reviews from different generations.”
After starting to write novels, I have got many new audiences who did not know me before. My novels have stimulated strong resonation among teenagers, and some of them even told me that my work was the first novel they had ever read. Through the medium of novel, I was able to get in touch with the readers that I could not reach before.
Personally, writing a novel could help me to tell more diverse and general social issues. Although only a tiny part of the world can be described in a novel, there are many important facts and secrets that can only be told in the form of stories. It expands the range of my expression. In the meantime, a novel is a medium that can last for a long time, which means a book written in current days may be read and evaluated in ten years or decades from now. It is a very enjoyable thing for the author to leave his or her work to the future and get comments and reviews from different generations.
Closing The one Hundred Nights, novel written by Mr. Furuichi
我现在在Twitter上连载的《Ask me why》讲述的是立场不同的两人相互追寻的故事。在下一本小说里，我准备描写想法不同的两个人如何互相理解。这是现代社会普遍存在的问题。国与国的政治立场不同，经济情况不同，从而产生了巨大的差别。而在同一个国家之中，也会有各种各样的差别，如经济差距。人与人怎样才能跨越这些差距，相互关心，变得更加亲近？人类自古以来就在这么做，但使用的方法并不一定正确。这个问题十分普遍，却又十分困难。我希望能够进一步思考如何实现人与人之间的相互理解。这个问题当然可以通过社会学书籍和论文来反映。但是小说可以通过描写特定的人物，更加切身地去思考普遍性的问题。
Ask me why, the novel I am currently serializing on Twitter, is about two people who have different positions running after each other. In my next novel, I plan to depict how people hold different opinions come to understand each other. It is a common problem in the modern society. Political positions and economic situations lead to huge gaps between different groups. Even in the same country, there can be all sorts of discrepancies. How can people overcome these gaps, care for each other and become closer to each other? Humans have been trying to solve this problem since ancient time but the existing solution is not necessarily in the right way. It is a widespread problem and it’s hard to deal with. What I hope to do is to think further on how to realize mutual understanding among human beings. Such an issue can certainly be reflected in sociological books and thesis. However, novels can engage with the universal problems in a more intuitive way by taking on specific roles in the narrative.
▼古市新作小说《Ask me why》
Ask me why, latest novel written by Mr. Furuichi
“The charm of a city is exactly reflected in the change of its residents.”
I’ve been to many cities, and find it enjoyable to visit different societies. Meanwhile, it enriches my knowledge. I studied in Norway for a year during my collage, which made me realized that the social atmosphere I experienced in real life was totally different from what I knew from the books. After becoming a social man, I still try to squeeze time for traveling in different cities even if I couldn’t stay long.
I‘ve been to many cities of China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Dalian and Changchun. Personally, I’m more interested in cities like Beijing and Shanghai that have been developed in a surprising speed with numerous up to date buildings. The charm of a city is exactly reflected in the change of its residents. Though there are unchanging cities like Kyoto, I prefer cities that are constantly developing, welcoming new populations, and creating new blueprints for the future. As for Europe, I love London and Hamburg. In these cities, historical neighborhoods are developing in parallel with the new ones, while efforts are being made to transform them together into new cities.
▼古市在世界各地旅行的照片，photos taking in different countries that Mr. Furuichi has traveled to ©FURUICHI NORITOSHI 古市憲寿
I have a lot of favorite buildings in each city. For example, I really like the Battersea Power Station in London, where the architects transformed an old industrial structure into a new office building, and the nearby urban blocks have been renewed as well. The transformation of buildings into new use is what I have a big interest in.
I also love skyscrapers like the Shanghai Center, which is over 600 meters high, as well as the JinMao Tower. Some people may consider that the skyscrapers destroy the aesthetics of the city, but only in contemporary era can people build such a monument which can be written in human’s history. Since Egyptians built the pyramids 3,000 years ago, people are still trying to set a new record of building a skyscraper. But only in modern times can towers over 600 metres high become a reality. From a historical perspective, this is an experience that only belongs to us.
▼(左 left)伦敦Battersea发电厂，改造为办公室 Battersea Power Station in London, which has been transformed into modern offices (右right)上海中心，环球金融中心和金茂大厦夜景，night view of the Shanghai Center, the Shanghai World Financial Center and Jin Mao Tower ©FURUICHI NORITOSHI 古市憲寿
“The critiques of the society in the modern art could help us gain further understanding of our society.”
我最喜欢的艺术家之一是德国画家卡斯帕·大卫·弗里德里希。除此之外，我也经常欣赏当代艺术。在当代艺术中，以团队来活动的创作者很多。最近，我很喜欢Moment Factory在长崎创作的Island Lumina。
One of my favorite artists is the German painter Casper David Friedrich. Besides, I always appreciate contemporary art pieces, especially of those who work as a team. Recently I really adore the piece called “Island Lumina” by Moment Factory in Nagasaki.
I think contemporary art is about questioning the era we live in. Of course I’m also fond of classical art, but the contemporary art touches me a lot because it is created by artists who live in the same era as I do. These works ask questions, both affirmative and critical, about society’s way of being. Through these questions, we can have a further understanding of our society. From this perspective, I feel more interested in contemporary art than in classical art.
▼古市的绘画作品，挑战不同领域，drawings by Mr. Furuichi, challenging things in different fields ©FURUICHI NORITOSHI 古市憲寿
Plans for the future
尽管根据新冠病毒的持续时间可能会发生改变，但我个人会和往年一样出版新书。今年夏天，我在Twitter连载的《Ask me way》将出版发行；秋天我计划出版一本关于日本历史的书；明年开始定期发表的小说也已准备就绪。电视台和杂志的工作也将继续，并不会有什么特变的变化。不同的是，2020年我不能去任何国家，基本只能待在东京，这种情况对我来说很罕见，也很期待这么特殊的一年会对我产生什么影响。
Although being influenced by the COVID-19, I’m going to engage with the publication of my new books as planned. This summer, Ask Me Way, my latest serialization on Twitter, will be officially published. In the fall, I’m going to publish a book on Japanese history, while another novel is also ready for serialization beginning from next year. My activities on TV and magazines will continue as usual. The difference is that in 2020 l’m not able to be abroad. Being stuck in Tokyo is a rare situation for me, but still I’m still expecting to see what will happen in such a special year.
Currently, among all of my books, only The Happy Youth in a Desperate County has been published in China, and one of my new books will soon be translated and published in South Korea, Due to the large amount of domestic writers and their works, books in Japanese are relatively less published. In the future, I hope to have more of my works published in China.