A couple years ago I noticed my brother reading a rather large tome by a Japanese author I had never read, but often read about. The book was The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami.
"Read it," my brother said. "It's really good."
Well, I haven't got around to reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle yet, but I have read some of Murakami's short stories and a few of his other novels. From what I've read, Norwegian Wood and Kafka on the Shore stood out to me the most. I did enjoy After Dark as well, but I really struggled to stay interested in the plot of the massive, three-books-in-one 1Q84.
Anyway, I recently came across an article Murakami wrote in 2008 for The New Yorker called The Running Novelist where he discusses the important role that a strict adherence to a pattern or routine plays in his life. Early to bed, early to wake, lacing up his shoes in the morning and running every day. I see this commitment and dedication to a routine or trade as very prevalent in the Japanese culture, and I think there is something to be greatly admired about having the willpower and resolve to, like clockwork, do something over and over and over again in the relentless pursuit of excellence in your craft. The very good documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi by David Gelb about Michelin-starred chef Jiro Ono also comes to mind as an example of the extent that some people will go to in the quest for perfection. Check it out if you get the chance.
Here's a link to the The Running Novelist.