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"プレゼンテーション zen" introduced in Japan

Pz_japan Today on page 2 of the Nikkei Shimbun (Japan Economic Times) you can find an ad announcing the debut of the Japanese translation of the Presentation Zen book. As you can imagine — and as the ad below from the newspaper may suggest — it can be hard to keep marketing communications such as advertisements from becoming cluttered in Japan. But the book itself is very true to the English version in terms of its design. In fact, the publisher in Japan told me this is the first business book they have published in Japan that makes so much use of empty space. My friend Mayumi Nakamoto did all the layout work for this book and she fought hard to keep the design essentially the same as the original; she did a beautiful job. The scale of the book is only slightly smaller than the original. It would have been easy to cave in and just do it "the normal way" by cramming it all in but we wanted to try something different. Will it be successful? I don't have a clue. But I'm delighted the book can finally reach a much wider audience in my home of Japan. The book hits the shelves in a couple of weeks but is available now for pre-order on the Pearson Japan web page and on Amazon.co.jp  プレゼンテーションzen<日本語版>アマゾンで予約受付開始!はよこうてや〜

Above: Photo shows the bottom of Page-2 of the Nikkei Shimbun (Aug 9, 2009).


David Swenson

I'm curious about your thoughts on a couple of things from this post. First, you mention that modern Japanese marketing tends to be cluttered (and I've certainly seen examples of this); yet so much of your design inspiration comes from the Zen aesthetic which is closely tied to Japan. What happened? (That may be more a question for a historian.) The other (somewhat related) thought: I'd be curious to know your thoughts on the fact that the word "zen" is left in English from the title of your book. Is there a specific reason for that?

In any case, thanks -- I've been enjoying the English version of your book for over a year, and I'm glad to see it reaching a wider audience.


It's great that now the Japanese version of Presentation Zen is available; I'll recommend it to my Japanese friends who don't read books in English.

By the way, I had the same question as the one David had -- about the word "zen" left in English. It does feel better than ゼン or 禅, though.

Jan Schultink

A related issue. I live in Israel (where we use Hebrew characters), seeing many billboard advertising around me and I have not seen many (if any) that I would classify as "Zen"

Is it more difficult to make Zen slides with non-Western characters? Even if I try to experiment, it looks sort of weird. The right-to-left spacing adds another layer of complexity.

Or did I just got used to one way of communicating?


Congratulations for this Japanese edition. I have just been given the French version of your book a few days ago and devoured it. As a nephrologist, I will often do lectures in French or English at medical conferences, and your comments, in your book and this blog as well, will be very useful. Thank you.

I wanted to let you know that I used the "Warning: Slides" picture displayed in your last post as an illustration (with proper credit, of course) in the last entry in my blog, in which I especially referred to your book.

By the way, I wondered if the stones in the cover and in many places inside the book were chosen as an illustration of Zen only, or if somewhere in your mind they were also an allusion to the famous article by Jay H. Lehr "Let there be stoning"? Dr Lehr wrote it more than 20 years ago, but it remains very true now, especially in the medical field where, quoting Bob Dylan, (almost) "Everybody Must Get Stoned".


This is a great news !!

I already have the English version. But I definitely buy the Japanese version too since I'm interested in the translation.

By the way, will you make a presentation for your new book in Tokyo?


Thirding the question for 禅 being in English.


Many people asked why "zen" appears in Roman letters rather than the Chinese character. This was a very deliberate decision, one in which everyone involved in the project agreed (I was the only non-Japanese involved in this). There are many elements and many reasons why the title appears as it does. First, at a glance the book would be confused to be a book about 禅 (the visual is very strong remember). This is a translated book by a foreign author and having the word Zen in Roman letters is a bit more modern or fashionable in feeling and is truer to the contents. Also, Zen itself, although at the heart of Japanese culture in terms of influence over more than 1000 years or so, is not consciously thought too much about; you do not hear the word on the street. In the West we use the term "Zen" to be another way of saying profound simplicity or a beautiful aesthetic moment, etc. Japanese do not really use the term this way. A very strong reason too was that others on the team (designers, writers, etc.) felt using the Kanji gave it an "old" feeling. OK, actually, I am having a hard time explaining why -- it would take several pages to explain it I am finding. But here's another one, if the kanji appeared, the rocks then make little sense on the cover -- you never see rocks like this arranged in a real Zen garden. I chose the cover photo because it was *not* a photo of one of the Zen-inspired arts (like a Tea garden or Ikebana, etc.), but the rocks are a kind of visual representation of what we think of in the West when we say "Zen." So the book is not at all about Zen, but there is Zen in it. Putting the kanji on the cover gives both the wrong feeling and image....this is what we thought.

Szymon Bartus

Hello Garr,

When are you going to release the Polish version? I think you mentioned in this blog that such translation is planned.

I've read the original and I recommend it very much to the people I know. Unfortunately not all of them know english sufficently to read a book.

Szymon B

Matt Bramblett

Congrats on your continued success. I am glad you posted a picture of the ad since it highlights the clash between your approach and that of existing practice. The bookcover has more whitespace than anything else in the ad! But I suppose that is the point of translating the book...it is needed there. I enjoyed the book and it has changed the way that we tell stories through slides in our company.

Keep up the good work.

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