One common comment about the Japanese is that they are rigid. They have so many rules. Want a taste? Here’s are the ones I’ve been told during my stay here (as part of conversation, not because they are correcting me. I’m a foreigner, after all)
Where you sit matters. If you are in a high position, you have to stay farthest from the door. If you are in the lower position, then you should be closer to the door (this has Japan samurai ages origin. The one closest to the door gets killed first, right? :p)
When doing a toast, the lid of your cup should be lower. (I think the Chinese also has this).
Talking about lower – when giving your business card, yours has to be lower too, as a form of humility. If you clearly have a higher position, then you can have the higher one (but come on, how arrogant is that? :p)
Continuing on the lower part – when taking the escalator, your head has to be lower. So if going up, your boss should go first. When going down, you should go first. (go on, think about it!)
You cannot pour your own drinks, and people around you should not have empty cups (the opposite for Koreans, they said. For Koreans, the cup should be emptied before pouring more alcohol)
No loud talking on the train! and no phone calls!
Backpacks should not be worn on a crowded train as they take up space. So if you have a backpack, take it off your back and hold it in your hand (or put it down) if the train is crowded
These are just off the top of my head.
For one of our classes, we actually went to Ogasawara-ryu, one of the oldest samurai training clans. Basically, they used to teach the samurai (and other high class people) the right way to do things.
They even have a booklet of proper etiquette! Let me share some items:
The right way to bow – your fingers should be close together (not spread out).
When receiving a drink or food, put it down first before taking a drink/eating. Meaning if you receive a beer, put it down the table first, then lift it up to drink. Why? Because you are overly eager if you don’t put it down first.
There’s this story in one of the manga I’ve read – the guy asked the girl to look around, then close her eyes. He then asked her how many stars she saw. She said none. Once she opened her eyes again, she suddenly became aware that there are huge star designs in one of the stores. The moral? We tend to overlook the things we are not familiar with.
This is the Yamato case for me.
What is Yamato? It’s the impressive delivery system in Japan that delivers goods within the day. Amazon uses them, as most of the Japanese people. Their operations was amazing, and so are their customer service (but then, so do most Japanese’).
The moment I learned who they are, I began to see them EVERYWHERE! THOSE CATS ARE EVERYWHERE!
What impressed me the most was the operations – how they sort the packages and ensure that each are delivered within the required time frame. It was all automatic! Sorry, we were not allowed to take pictures, but darn, that was one of the most impressive things I’ve seen. Basically there is a system of conveyor belts in the floor, all unmanned, that automatically sorts through packages of different sizes and puts them into the right boxes. Every single one. Error rate? Practically zero.
As part of the Doing Business in Asia program, MBA students from Hitotsubashi University (Japan), Seoul National Univeristy (South Korea), and Peking University (China) spend one week on each school during the month of August.
Only ten students are selected from each school, and as of now I don’t know how the other schools selected theirs. Heck, I don’t even know how ours are selected.
Either way, I got in! So what does that mean?
That means I pay my own share – no final amount yet.
That also means I apply for my own visa for South Korea and China. The fun part? Since we get invitation letters from basically their top schools, the visa process is easy. I know others don’t have this problem, but I’m a Filipina. Come on.
That means I get to bond with students from SNU and Peking University.
Life in Hitotsubashi International Corporate Strategy comes in two aspects – the administrative and the academic.
Administrative (this post). This means living in Japan, going to school, money matters etc. This can actually be a Surviving Japan post, but I think it’s a tad specific to my experience as a Hitotsubashi student.
Academic(see Thriving in Hitotsubashi ICS). These are the, well, academic aspects. If I have to explain this to you, maybe you should reconsider going to graduate school. :p
One of the visits I probably would never forget is the visit to Bangalore’s Vidya. It’s a chance to see how young women in India struggle, what motivates them and how hard they work.
They struggle with the cultural imposition to women. Their hands are tied. But one thing drives them – their families. Their kids. For example, learning English is a priority because they wanted to talk to their kids in English. Most Indians DO NOT speak English. The people we meet are not at the bottom of the pyramid, and with 1.2billion people, there’s a lot of them. But far more numerous are the ones who struggle on a daily basis.
Vidya is about helping these young women help themselves. And I can’t think of a better way to do it.