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 30How to praise someone at the workplace
People increase their enthusiasm for work even more when they are praised. There are various expressions to praise someone.
For example, sasuga means "Just as I expected!," ii desu ne means "That's very good," subarashii means "Great!" and o-migoto means "Excellent!"
But you should be careful because compliments like these may not only have a positive effect: they can sometimes lead to a deterioration in human relationships. If you repeat expressions of praise thoughtlessly, it may sound like sarcasm rather than praise, or suggest that you are blaming or despising the other person.
Also, please remember two basic rules: when you praise someone, do it in front of others; and when you tell someone off, do it when nobody else is around.
It's said that one in three Japanese people suffers from some kind of allergy, such as hay fever or asthma, and one in fourteen is allergic to certain food items. Food allergies are particularly increasing among children.
Elementary schools that provide children with lunch are pressed to take measures against allergies. One elementary school in Hiroshima uses exclusive cooking utensils to produce meals without using either soybeans or eggs, which can both cause allergies. Another school in Hokkaido tries to produce dishes for allergy-sufferers that appear to be the same as those for other children: for example, the rolled-egg served to children suffering from an egg allergy is cooked just like real tamagoyaki, but ground fish meat and pumpkin is used instead of eggs.
It's said that around 20% of the nation suffers from hay fever and it's becoming a national disease. Cedar and hogweed pollen cause uncomfortable and ongoing symptoms—such as runny noses and sneezing—that stop people from focusing on their studies or work.
The most effective countermeasure against hay fever is to prevent pollen from entering the body. If you visit Japan in the spring when the cedar pollen is flying around, you will see many people wearing masks or goggles in town.
Lesson 28Explaining your health condition
We'll introduce some expressions regarding pain.
When you have a pain, you say ~ga itai desu meaning "~ is aching." For example, "tooth" is ha, so if you have a toothache you say ha ga itai desu—"my tooth is aching." And "head" is atama, so "my head is aching" is atama ga itai desu.
Many Japanese families are equipped with a clinical thermometer and if they're not feeling well, people first take their temperature. Providing accurate information such as when and by how much your temperature has risen helps a doctor to give a correct diagnosis. It's always useful in the event of an emergency if you know your normal temperature.
The basic elements of communication in a company are known as "hôrensô". The term hôrensô is made up from the first syllables of three words: hôkoku, meaning "report"; renraku, meaning "contact"; and sôdan, meaning "consult". Actually, the term hôrensô is a pun, because it sounds the same as hôrensô meaning "spinach," the vegetable!
If you get lazy regarding the business meaning of hôrensô, you may end up making mistakes of judgment or having business problems, so please make sure to keep to it.
Hôkoku – "report" – means to constantly report how your work is progressing so that your bosses and colleagues can immediately respond if some problem comes up.
Renraku – "contact" – means to inform your bosses and colleagues of work plans and schedules. And you should always tell them if you're going straight home after some outside appointment or when you wish to take a day off.
Sôdan – "consult" – means to ask for appropriate instructions and advice.
If you are still inexperienced like Cuong, it's not at all embarrassing to ask anything. An old proverb says: "To ask a question is a temporary embarrassment, but not to ask is a lasting embarrassment." So never hesitate to ask!
Lesson 26Popular tourist spots
Where would you like to go when you visit Japan? In 2009, the Japan Tourism Agency conducted a survey of overseas visitors to Japan, asking them which places they had visited. The most popular place was Shinjuku in Tokyo, visited by 34.8% of the tourists. Kyoto and Akihabara were also listed near the top of the list. The reasons given for their popularity included their well-established accommodation facilities, unique atmosphere, and attractive shopping opportunities.
As a matter of fact, these tourist spots are also popular destinations for Japanese school excursions. A school excursion is one of the school events during which students go on a journey for several days to visit famous places and study the local history and natural features of the area. According to a survey by Nihon Shûgaku Ryokô Kyôkai (the Japan School Excursion Association), the most popular destinations for junior high schools are Kyoto, Tokyo, Nara and Okinawa, in that order. At the destinations, the students not only visit scenic spots and places of historic interest, but also sometimes have a chance to try their hand at traditional arts and crafts, such as pottery-making and indigo-dyeing.