Tips for Living in Japan
Read a short entry on Japanese culture, including language, customs and etiquettes. Maybe you would find out something that you were always curious of.
Lesson 5Company working hours
The working hours of many Japanese companies are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Recently, however, the “flexible time” system has been spreading, in which workers have a certain degree of freedom to fix their working hours themselves. The “flex system” is popular because it means workers can avoid the worst of the commuting rush and work according to their life pattern.
On the other hand, it’s also true that many people feel bad about leaving earlier than their colleagues or bosses, even if their workload for the day has been completed. That’s why you shouldn’t forget to show careful consideration to colleagues. If you do leave before them, it’s a good idea to say O-saki ni shitsurei shimasu before you go. It means “I’m very sorry to leave before you!”
Lesson 4Japanese sense of time
Many visitors to Japan are surprised to find that the trains here usually operate on time. In fact, most Japanese like things to proceed exactly as scheduled. According to the results of a survey carried out by a leading watch-maker, about 50% of people answered "within five minutes" to the question "How long do you allow commuter trains to be late before you start getting irritated?"
When meeting someone, it's regarded as good manners to arrive five minutes before the scheduled time. You will often hear people comment that they went to a meeting place just on time, only to discover they were the last person to arrive! In the case of business meetings, in particular, you may lose credibility if you arrive late. So if you are likely to be late, it's polite to telephone and inform the person you're meeting. Many Japanese get annoyed even if you're only five minutes late for an appointment!
Source : Citizen
Lesson 3A way of refusing something
The Japanese attach great importance to harmony in human relationships. So we tend to avoid refusing offers or invitations sharply because it might damage our relationships with others.
For example, when you are offered some kind of food you don't like, you first of all show appreciation to the other person's offer by saying Arigatô gozaimasu, meaning "Thank you very much." And then you can refuse the offer using an evasive answer such as Chotto..., meaning "Er…". This chotto is a very useful expression because you can use it not only for calling someone but also for refusing something.
Euphemistic expressions are often used in business situations. An expression that is frequently used to refuse a business deal with a client is Kentô shitemimasu. Although Kentô shitemimasu basically means "I will consider," it implies the nuance of "Please don't expect a good answer."
Lesson 2Ko-so-a-do kotoba
Ko-so-a-do kotoba consist of words with the initial letters of the demonstrative pronouns kore, sore and are, and the interrogative pronoun dore, which means "which". Kotoba means "words". The ko-so-a-do kotoba used to express location are koko meaning "here", soko meaning "there", asoko meaning "over there" and doko meaning "where?"
Ko-so-a-do kotoba are very useful because you can use them instead of saying concrete names. But, of course, you have to be sure the person you are talking to knows what you are referring to! There are often misunderstandings between long-married couples. For example, the husband says "Bring me that!" to his wife, meaning his newspaper, but instead his wife hands him his glasses!
Lesson 1Yoroshiku onegai shimasu
If you have had any experience of working or meeting Japanese people, you will have noticed that they often bow and say to you Yoroshiku onegai shimasu. The expression Yoroshiku onegai shimasu is not only used in introducing yourself but when you are asking someone a favor.
For example, Yoroshiku onegai shimasu is sometimes found at the end of an e-mail or a letter. You might have wondered what favor the person who wrote it was asking. Well, it may not refer to anything in particular, but saying Yoroshiku onegai shimasu is a general greeting covering the whole content of the e-mail or a letter. You could say this is one of the typical Japanese expressions. And what do you reply if someone says Yoroshiku onegai shimasu to you? Just repeat it—Yoroshiku onegai shimasu!