ghostwriter, good ideas from you. i have spent a fair amount of time in japan, traveling not only to tokyo but to places like nagasaki, kyoto and the small holy town of nara, with its immense wooden buddha. i stayed in ryokan, japanese style inns, slept on tatami mats on the floor, and ate bento, boxed lunches. it wasn't all that hard, even though i speak about five words of japanese. my experience was that japanese individuals have a generally positive image of india as it is their holy land; and i have seen many buddhist nuns and monks on flights from japan/se asia to india. so the idea of the buddhist circuit is good, and i am under the impression there already is one for the devout (saudi arabia and israel gain from semitic religious tourists, so why not india?). a fair number of japanese do land up in india. on my last trip to hampi, i chatted with a japanese woman who said she had spent the entire previous year in india. and on my last trip to thailand, i shared a cab ride with a japanese monk who said he had spent (a very hot) month in bodh gaya.
and of course, the much-loved preceptor of zen buddhism is bodhi dharma, known in japan as 'daruma'. he went from kodungalloor in kerala (although he may have been a price from kanchi in tamil nadu) to china, took kalari payat there and created the chinese martial arts at a monastery called shaolin. not satisfied with this, he then went to japan and established zen buddhism there! talk of an over-achiever :-)
japan's core competence is in packaging and in biotechnologies, especially fermentation technologies. so you are right, it's a good idea hook up with them on that.
there are a few decent japanese restaurants in chennai and bangalore (one named dahlia leaps to mind). with more japanese investment (toyota, nissan and others are increasing their stake in india) hopefully we can work towards a much stronger economic, military, cultural and educational alliance with them.
=================== ghostwriter said ===============
The Japanese have been light years ahead of everybody in certain technologies, specially micro-electronics - look at this example (the Yanks cannot even think of producing something like this).
I see a few possibilities with the Indo-Japanese relationship
1- Research, specially biotech. We can invest in researching low-cost medicines, plants, agricultural etc. If the Japs open up their education sector to deserving Indian's (scholarships, student-loan followed by guest worker employement etc.) - India's surplus talent (specially with reservations in IIT's) can work miracles. Maybe we can get the Japs to hold comptetitive exams for their universities in India?
2- 'Insourcing' healthcare - by which I mean guest-worker programs for nursing and preliminary health care workers
3- Spiritual Tourism - Some years ago Jagmohan had proposed a Buddhist spiritual-tourism circuit, in order to attract far-eastern tourism dollars. Sadly as most of the sites involved were in Bihar - this had to be given up. Personally I love this idea - if done right it is a sure fire way of creating repeating business and forging national ties on more than just trade (Trade Plus approach)
I see a couple of problems as well - language for one. More importantly, India has a culture that rewards mediocrity and punishes excellence (the Chaltaa Hai BIMAARU north). The Japanese cannot have this. Bull Shitting can get one ahead in the US (and keep one there as well) - but the Japs are harder-nosed.