“Many years ago, I sat down with a person—an American—who was trying to sell telephone extensions into the Japanese market. His sales pitch was that every family needs five phones—one for every room in your house. Japanese people looked at him and said, ‘Well, my apartment is so small that when my phone rings, I just reach across the room and pick it up.’ He wasn’t doing so well.”

The San Francisco Chronicle explains why Japan has cooler stuff.