For some reason, Japan has a reputation of being a technological wonderland. I blame the movies.
In reality, things are, of course, more complicated. There are some things that seem advanced on the face of it. For example, my microwave has a single-touch button that will adjust the timing and power levels to heat things according to amount and weight, so I don't have to think. Similar to my laundry machine. However, it's all or nothing. I can't stop the process and adjust it on the fly. I have to stop it and then reset it, or just set it all manually in the first place. And yes, some cell phones have a lot of features, but they are features that everyone already has, just used more extensively (like watching TV) or with more variety (such as including emoticons.)
It's nice, however, to see the hard data backing up this impression. This comes from The Japan Times' blog, which translates Japanese-only other-blogs:
- Only 85% of people polled by japan.internet.com and goo Research own an air conditioner; only 64% own a desktop computer and 27% own a video camera. 56% of respondents to an online survey said that they can’t use their smart phones (e.g. iPhone, Xperia) very well. (No details, but the source is here.)
So yes. Really there isn't as much cutting-edge stuff as you would think. The really cool hi-tech stuff is all in the research ends of things, stuff that isn't practical to be mass-produced and maybe not even practical to use in the first place. So although their love them robots, I don't see them taking over any time soon.