Editorial: Blueprint – Japan’s approach to Emotional Engineering



Kansei Kougaku (感性工学) – a design methodology that serves to elucidate the user’s emotional response into the realm, or sphere so to speak, of a product or commodity.  Founded by Hiroshima University Professor Mitsuo Nagamachi, the concept of Kansai Engineering, at surface level, allows us to link an individual’s physical and psychological reaction to the properties and essence of a product.  This theory has not only become a well-studied notion that can be applied to an almost endless amount of applications, but has also given us, as inherently unique individuals, an opportunity to view nearly everything man-made with a sincere empathy – whether we are conscious of it or not.





If we take this idea at its outermost tier, it’s easy to apply to something like that of the interior of a car; the user is isolated, it’s a very ergonomically focused environment, it’s generally a space the user can confide in (trusting), and depending on the purpose of the drive, it’s a product that can evoke nearly the entire spectrum of human emotion.  We’re all car people (that is more than likely why you’re here – certainly it’s not to read my existential ramblings), so this is an example you can relate to.  Well, if that’s the case, is it unreasonable to think that it could be applied to something as abstract as the facade of a building?  Or what about something so seemingly insignificant as a drinking glass?  After all, just like a car, we use these things almost daily.  Have you ever stopped to question though, if emotion was a driving factor in the design of such things?  And if that was indeed the case, and a whole is the sum of all it’s parts, is it insane to think that entire cities could be built on the notion of ‘feeling’?  Probably not.  Rightly so, why should you?




It’s a concept that, for the most part, seems irrelevant – I get it.  So, let’s take a minute and look at it from a different perspective then.  Let’s work with a product that you know elicits an emotional response; photographs.  Be honest with yourself, we’ve all seen pictures that have extracted the feelings right out of our heart.  Whether it was a response of joy, or sorrow, we’ve all been there.  Now, for the most part, when it’s commissioned, photography is supposed to do this.  We want photographs of our wedding to be happy, lively, and full of love, as it is how we want to remember that day (hopefully).  In contrast, we want photographs of war to evoke feelings of anger, grief, regret and maybe even brotherhood.  Do you think that the photographer has control of this when taking the photo, or is the final picture a product of the environment it was created in?  In the case of photography, my opinion is, that it’s a little bit of both.  If we know our target audience though, it’s possible to tailor a photo to get the reaction the consumer wants.  So is it so crazy to think we can’t apply that train of thought to a stair well, or the floor pattern of a building’s lobby?  I feel that Japan has done this remarkably well, and I see it in a number of things.





I’d like to think, and I challenge you to think the same, that each decision in the production process of any commodity has emotional reasoning behind it.  If anything, it’s a practice in understanding.





An understanding that can be applied to much more than inanimate objects.  One that can transcend to the actions of people…





…and in doing so, gain insight into the consideration of such ideas in creation, and expand our perception of all things in life.  A key aspect in the blueprint that makes up the world.



– sean



  1. dionyeo

    Reblogged this on Complicated.Yet.Simplified.

  2. Reblogged this on Dragonstrike-Black Ops.

  3. Dear Author,
    with all due respect, this text is ununderstandably comlicated. I am sorry to say that, but even other posts: events coverages, photoshoots of garages or cars – you are using absolutely unnesessary and very difficult to understand constructions.
    I am now living in Japan, teaching english to Grad High School students, my GMAT is 720 and Toefl is 120, so I thought no english abstract can surprise me. But it did. I understand what happens with japanese people using english language: your vocabulary is astonishingly good, but there is a lack of speaking skills.
    I very much appreciate the job you do, the mission of this blog, I love every post and looking in-detailed of every photo, I love the philosophy of car-builders that you are sharing. That is amazing and hope you will continue to open for the world this amazing part of japanese car culture, but it would be so much nicer if you used easier word constructions and vocabulary. Maybe it is also a challenge – to say complicated things with easy words. Thats why “simplified wikipedia” was made.
    Thank you one more time for your job,
    would be happy to meet one day.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Ilia. However, I’m not really sure what you’re getting at. Are you saying you do not understand my sentence structure? What do your GMAT and TOEFL scores have to do with my writing style? Editorials, by definition, are articles formed from the author’s opinion on certain subjects, and are usually written in a conversational manner. What do you mean by unnecessary constructions?

      Also, as a side note, I would advise you spell check your responses to others writing before providing criticism.


      • Sean,
        thank you for adequate response to my subjective opinion.
        I shared my test scores to emphasize, that my english is good, though, surprisingly, still not enough for understanding of everything that you want to say in your posts, not only this editorial.
        As you kindly mentioned, maybe my comments are not perfect about spelling – but my aim was to share my feelings (in “conversational manner”), not to write grammatically and spelling faultless comment.
        I just see many difficult words and constructions in every post, and, as this blog is aimed at worldwide visitors with shared interests, but, possibly, limited knowledge of english, I suggested that maybe extra-sophisticated language will not help to share your amazing photos, exclusive events coverages and workshops visits.
        I have no aim and no right to teach you how to make your work, so just wanted you to know opinion of your big fan.
        Thank you one more time for amazing blog!

      • Thanks Ilia, I see no need to change the way I write though. The majority of the articles are extremely basic. I reserve the editorials to express my opinions in a way I feel is enjoyable to me; as I enjoy writing. It’s enjoyable for me to push the bounds of vocabulary and, to be perfectly honest, will only benefit the reader. There’s dozens of ways to articulate yourself, why not do it in a very specific manner? Thanks again, and best of luck with your career in Japan.

    • None of this stuff is complex in anyway unless your english level is at that of a 10 year old.

  4. Damn, you touch my heart with every editorial.

  5. This is a very similar concept to what Industrial designers (product designers) do with the design process. This was an enjoyable write up, would love to read more.

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