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The Japanese Businessman's Lifestyle Business Customs
References/Books on Japan
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Marching onward
Being one of the many major cities of the world, the average 9 to 5 business day is roughly the same as NY, London, or wherever. But, you've probably noticed some things that make you go "hmm". First of all, commuting. If you're lucky enough to live close to your office you can walk or bike the commute, if you don't, well, forget about a car, the only way you'll get there is by train and/or bus. Now there's a lesson in patience. The average commute is about 45 minutes. So do a little calculating and that means the average person leaves for work around 8 or thereabouts. Once you get used to it, you can switch off like everybody else and go to sleep during your commute, otherwise, resistance is futile.

"I Don't Wanna Work, I Just Wanna..."
Face the facts, overtime is a given. Once you're finished slogging your way through the fury of papers and it's time to stop pushing that pencil, it's time to get out and go home, ah, but not quite yet though. Your coworkers or your superiors are going to come up to you and say those three magic words, "chotto ippai ikimasen?" Which means, when translated literally, "want to go out for one drink?" The real translation is, "come with us to DRINK, get plastered and talk openly about work." The local watering hole quickly becomes your second office (hey, who doesn't mind an office with beer and food?) and it's used for relaxing, talking about work and strengthening contacts.
Apart from the ritual drinking, golf on the weekends used to be an important business tool (golf!?). Past tense because it's becoming more and more infrequent. It is being replaced by "kazoku saabisu", or "family service". Weekends and holidays are now spent with the family and performing "services" like going out to eat, taking a little trip somewhere, helping out at home and so on (could be more tiring than work!). For the singles, the women spend the day shopping and going out, and on holidays, short trips abroad to do some shopping (what else?) and relaxing isn't uncommon. The men, well, TV is always fun, so are video games!
What's more fun than inviting your friends over to your place for a party or dinner? Well, that doesn't happen very often here. Call it tradition, the Japanese make sure to keep work away from the home and family. But if you do get invited to a coworker or friend's place, be sure to bring a gift with you, nothing special, food or alcohol will usually suffice.


Where the Grass is Greener
Even in times of recession, there are times when the average businessman is transferred halfway across town, halfway across the country and sometimes halfway around the world. No problem if it's halfway across town, you just have to set your alarm clock a little earlier and a little louder. But then again, that means more sleep on the train right? If it's halfway across the country, it isn't unusual for just the man to go to wherever to work. The wife and kids stay in cramped, stressful Tokyo, while the husband goes off to some country town where the air is fresh, the grass is greener, and he has a whole apartment to himself. Now, if they find themselves transferred halfway across the world, sometimes the whole family will go, sometimes they won't. It usually depends if they have kids or not, and what they think about education, but most of the time (usually) the whole family will go.


arrowBusiness Customs

Name Cards
The "Meishi" or name or business card, is an indispensable object when meeting someone in Japan for the first time. Meishi are mutually exchanged and studied carefully. The most important item on a name card is the company or organization name. Next important is the bearer's position within that organization. Etiquette when exchanging cards, calls for the lower ranking or younger person to offer his or her card first. It should be presented so that it can easily be read. It is impolite to offer damaged or soiled Meishi.

Seals or Hanko
While a Westerner puts his signature on any important document or letter, The Japanese will stamp it with a seal engraved with his name. A Japanese person may have more than one seal. The one he or she has registered at the local government office is called a "jitsuin". Under Japanese law, one who has registered his or her seal can obtain a certificate that can be used to prove his or her identity. Such a certificate is necessary whenever one makes a major transaction or concludes a contract. Seals may also be used at banks and at the post office to receive registered letters.

Group consciousness and decision making
The Japanese identification with a group is strong. His identity is often defined by that group. For the adult male his place of work and those who work with him there form his group.

Group Spirit
The Japanese prefer to work as members of a group rather than individually. When negotiating, it is important to remember that it is usually not sufficient to convince one person. The whole group must be won over to any idea. Decisions are made in Japan on a consensus basis. This means it probably will take longer to arrive at any decision in Japan than it would in the West, but when a decision is taken it will be the one agreed upon by the whole group. Management decisions in Japan are generally not simply imposed from the top down. Rather a consensus building process begins at the bottom and works upward.


arrowReferences/Books on Japan


THE ENGLISH DICTIONARY OF JAPANESE CULTURE
1,700yen
Yuhikaku 1986
 
Mark Zimmerman, HOW TO DO BUSINESS WITH THE JAPANESE
1,330yen
Tuttle 1991
 
JAPAN: A BUSINESS TRAVELER'S HANDBOOK
2,100yen
PHP Institute, Inc. 1991
JAPAN AS IT IS
1,500yen
Gakken 1990
Shotaro Ishinomori (with translation), JAPAN INC (comic book)
1,250yen
Nikkei Newspaper 1988
JAPAN IN YOUR POCKET 14 vols. [English], 11 & 12. [French]
910yen-1,010yen
JTB 1991
Alison R. Lanier, JAPAN TODAY
2,060yen
Yohan Publications, Inc. 1984
Edwin Reischauer, THE JAPANESE TODAY
1,280yen
Tuttle 1992
Ron Davidson, LIVING AND WORKING IN JAPAN
1,500yen
Yohan Publications, Inc. 1990
The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, LIVING IN JAPAN
3,090yen
ACCJ 1987
The Nihongo Journal Editorial Department,
LIVING IN JAPAN: A HAND BOOK
1,500yen
ALC 1991
Paul Meredith Stuart, NIHONSENSE
1,300yen
The Japan Times 1987
91/92 PASSPORT TO JAPAN: BUSINESSMAN'S GUIDE
1,500yen
BII 1991
RULES OF THE ROAD
1,860yen
Japan Automobile Federation 1988
Nippon Steel Corporation Personnel Development Division,
NIPPON - TALKING ABOUT JAPAN
1,700yen
Alc Press 1991

*Consumption Tax is included in the above prices.
*Please consult the book store directly if you cannot find the book(s) you are looking for.

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Copyright by IMA Co., 1999