Lessons from Japan: Wooden you like to know.

I have been in Kyoto, Japan, for the past week, and one thing that keeps coming up is that stuff has been here for a long time.  Like centuries upon centuries long.  And not just things like a stone statute or wall, but buildings made of wood.  If something happens to an edifice (and with earthquakes, fires, tsunamis and more possible, something often happens), it is often rebuilt and lasts for centuries more.

For example, take this building:

Todaji, Nara, Japan

This is Todaji temple in Nara, Japan.  The temple is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site and holds a giant bronze Buddha statue inside that is 15 meters tall.  It is made completely out of wood.  The first version of this temple was built in 752.  No, I did not forget the 1 in front of that.  In 855, the head of the Great Buddha fell off in a major earthquake. They reattached the head and moved on.  In 1180, much of the complex burned in a fire due to an attack.  Much of the Buddha was melted, but they rebuilt the building and recast the statue.  In 1567, however, the temple burned again, melting part of the statue.  Again, they rebuilt and recast.   As a result, the present Buddha was consecrated in 1692, and the Great Buddha Hall was dedicated In 1709.  The building is reduced in size from the original but is still one of the largest wooden structures in the world.

But one of my favorite things is the “horns” on top.  Those are actually stylized fish tails. These roof decorations were believed to cause rain and protect against fire – an important precaution when you have a giant wooden structure that can easily become a conflagration.

So why does this history lesson belong on a business law firm blog?  Because it has an important lesson for your business:  Plan for the worse, take appropriate precautions, and when it goes wrong – and it will – regroup, rebuild, and move on.

This means identifying your threats whether those are fire, earthquakes, infringement, employees leaving, or something else.  Then putting in appropriate safeguards, although I suggest proper trade secret procedures, contracts, insurance and more rather than mythical fish tails although you are welcome to add those, too.  And finally, once you are ready for issues, face them when they come, make the best of it, and move on.  If you took the appropriate steps before, all should not be lost.  The Great Buddha was cast (or recast) at least 3 times, but each recasting was not due to a complete loss.  Each time, there was the base left with the recasting involving the top.  And it the last time was in 1692.  Therefore, plan for the long haul, too!

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