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My working experience at a Japanese company

20 Dec

===*advance notice*===
I’ll go visit my grandma in Osaka next week and will blog about my shopping, eat-outs, and general experiences when I return to Tokyo! πŸ˜€

I still wonder what the best balance is between life and work. But anyway, I’ll write up freely like a diary.
I’ve worked for a domestic company (that means Japanese company) for the past…nearly 6 months or so, and unexpectedly it was such a FUN experience to me. πŸ™‚ I made a few good friends from work, which was not easy when I was working as a freelancer (as a house renovation planner). Those days, my ‘friends’ were more likely to be friends for benefit. We met for exchanging useful information for work or to share knowledge or experience of work. That was fun while I was engaged in the work, but our friendship was over when I quit that job. I noticed then that there was no reason to meet up with them when I have no more renovation work to share with them. Also I clearly noticed the friendship was based on benefit and without the topics about work, there has not been any particular topics that I feel like talking about with those friends. That was not a genuine friendship, after all…

Although I was shocked to see how company employees are working, it was yet, a fun experience as a whole. πŸ˜€ Japanese firms are unique in some ways, especially when they are compared with American or even European ones. There are pros and cons for every aspect, but one of the good points about Japanese companies in general is that a whole company is just like a family. Employees are like one big family. That’s why senior workers will try to educate junior workers. They are willing to help the followers to learn, grow up and contribute to the company, even if they sacrifice their own time or work.

Unlike western companies, Japanese companies are still having difficulties in dismissing their employees, no matter how the western culture has affected our society in some ways. Long time ago, we had no idea of dismissal in Japan, thanks to life-time employment system. It’s been said that life-time employment has been dead and we also have to be prepared for layoff, but as a matter of fact, regular employees are relatively protected from dismissal except for some special cases in Japan. If an employee does not do something really stupid, he will probably keep employed till his retiring age.

I believe that such culture and climate of Japanese firm definitely help generate family-like and friendly atmosphere in the office, especially when it’s relatively a big corporation like I’ve been working for. I really felt comfortable interacting with almost every co-worker in the office. (The bad aspect of such company is that people still think working long hours is greater than working efficiently or complete the work before the fixed hour.)

My job contact with this company is to be terminated, and my next job contact will start from January and it’s a Japanese venture capital company. I think their culture is very different from the current one. My working hour is shorter because I wish to stay more time with Pi-chan and do something for myself at home.

Now I’m thankful to the company for what I experienced in the past 6 months. 10 years ago when I was working as a company employee, I really hated that. That’s the main reason I started to work as a freelancer. But now I find myself more flexible, generous, and thankful, which is why think I no longer feel hatred, anger or irritation. I even feel a bit sad for leaving the company in a few days. 😦

It was because I changed that irritation could have become appreciation? πŸ™‚ Have you experienced something like this?


My work experience at a JP office

7 Jun

It’s my rambling post. :p
I think I’ve been writing all day long in English because I’m working full-time at a Japanese company only for this month. Coming back home and now writing this blog is not easy but let me share with you what I found at work.

Many years I was working as a freelance and for the past few years I was mostly working from home. So it was kind of fresh to me to work at a company. Things looked quite surprising to me, who have been away from “office” for a long time.

Craving for color…
The interior, especially the color scheme of the office is monotonous. It’s gray, gray and gray. Maybe there are some blue, white and black but mostly things are in light to mid gray. Male workers are mostly wearing a gray suit, and they are the majority at the office, due to the characteristics of the industry. There are only a few women including me. It was surprising that I craved for color so badly after a few hours in full of gray. Luckily, the office is surrounded by several shopping malls, my eyes and soul were comforted during the lunch time at window shopping. ^ ^;;

What a surprise! This color scheme is not very unique in Japan. Most of the Japanese company offices have a boring color scheme. But I’ve never been driven to this state of mind before. I guess my eyes are totally used to seeing various colors at a time, while I keep working from home. The big difference will be lack of green and wood, I think. At home there are some plants, wooden desk, wooden table, and wooden flooring. Also chairs are upholstered with orange and yellow fabric, the lighting is in yellow, not bright white…and as you know Pi-chan is always around me. πŸ™‚ While I write this I noticed there’s almost NO GRAY at home! My keyboard is in light gray…I guess that’s all. ^ ^;;

It doesn’t mean that I dislike gray. I like to wear gray colored pants or sweat shirt especially when I want to relax at home. To me, somehow gray is the color to veg out. (lol) But I guess I don’t like to see the color in large area. Well, it’s not the end of the world but it was interesting that I missed seeing colors so badly! Do you have a similar experience? How is your working environment?

Over-time work for 100 hours monthly!?
It’s still the same some workers do over-time work for 100 hours per month and almost every month when they are busy! I happened to hear what some employees were chatting near me. I’ve posted about Japanese working environment and etc. before but the situation is still like that! It is normal in our culture to work over-time in order to catch up with the deadline, or to satisfy the customers. Thus, 24-hour operation or working on Saturdays and Sundays are not something extreme in Japan. Many workers do that to defend the deadline to the death. This is quite comfortable from customer’s side because everything is expected on time. Delivery service for example, never fails to delay. When it’s specified from 12pm to 2pm of a certain day, it is delivered during that period of the day that is specified. Behind that, the workers may be skipping meals, cancelling date, working extra hours, and etc. which is not always perceived by their customers. I will quietly show some respect to them and want to say “Otsukaresama desu!” to console their hard work. πŸ™‚

I’ll go back to my work from home next month, until that time, I may blog about my daily life sometimes. πŸ˜€

10 reasons that convince me to stay in Japan

30 Mar

Since I posted this article the other day, I received many comments and I’ve been thinking about upside of living in Japan. As many people mentioned, the grass is always greener on the other side. Every country has some kind of problem, even if it’s free from devastating earthquakes that Japan often suffer from. That’s so true. It’s possible that I don’t realize what I already have, when I keep living in the same place for years. Thus I try to see what Japan has offered to me because that for sure will be something I will miss when I leave Japan.

I’ll list up things I like about living in Japan. πŸ˜€

1: Onsen & everyday bathing in a Japanese styled bath
Bathing in Japanese style is so relaxing. Your body will be totally refreshed, warmed, relaxed and get healthier. Bathing is not just for keeping your body clean. I believe it’s good for your brain as well, because it’s always at the bathroom when I get a good idea! I believe my brain turns alpha status thanks to so much of relaxation.

2: Washlet toilet (high-tech toilet)
Every time I travel abroad, I miss Japanese high-tech toilet that installs warm seat and electric bidet/shower. I hear some Hollywood celebs who stayed in Japan got obsessed with it and imported it to install in their toilet back home. Most of households in Japan have this type of toilet, and it’s not considered so luxurious here.

3: Everything is punctual
Public transportation, people in charge of business, and friends to meet up…they are always on time. There’s no stress to wait and screw up the rest of the schedule. Someone from Ukraine who moved to Japan told me once that he chose to live in Japan because it’s less stressful. He can schedule 4 or 5 meetings a day, because everyone appears on time and every public transportation comes on time. He said things wouldn’t go like this in Europe. I see.

4: Good quality of service
Good quality of service is a Japanese standard. Company employees are educated very strictly to treat their customers as if they were God. That’s why working in Japan, provinding service for Japanese people is quite stressful. However, at a customer’s side, I think Japan is a heaven. πŸ˜€ I hear how people who traveled in Japan got surprised at our high quality of service. I will realize how wonderful it is only when I experience unsatisfactory kind of service I get somewhere else. I guess I’ve stayed in Japan too long to realize wonderful things. They have become too natural, everyday thing, nothing special, and Japanese standard, but look around the world if you can have the same quality of service? I’m telling to myself.

5: Good quality of products
Some study-abroad agency shares a list of things recommended to bring from Japan to Australia. Followings are the examples.

-sanitary items (for women) made in Japan
-band for hair (made in Japan)
-umbrella (made in Japan)
-tooth brush (made in Japan)
-pensil, eraser, notebook (made in Japan)
-Japanese electrical appliances such as electronic dictionary, camera and PC
-Japanese cosmetic products
-pocket tissues (it’s free in Japan)
-bathing suits
-tights and stocking (made in Japan)
and etc…

These items are in better quality and more reasonable when purchased in Japan than in Australia, according to the agency. (***note: My purpose here is not to speak ill of Australian products, please don’t misunderstand.) Some items are listed because of size difference. For example, tooth brush in Aussie size must be too big for us, Japanese. I will never realize how good these products are and how reasonablly they are supplied in Japan until I leave Japan and compare the counterparts offered in other part of the world.

6: Universal health insurance for everyone
Unlike U.S and other countries, Japan offers public health insurance for every citizen who pays some monthly money. Thanks to this system, whether it’s a public or privarte hospital, big or small scaled, we can get treatments and prescription drug at 30% of total expenses, with 70% covered by the insurance. This also applies to dental therapy. This is the great system and is so beneficial to everyone that none of us has to refrain from seeing doctors due to worries of money.

7: Japanese as a mother language
No matter how much I learn English, it’s still a foreign language to me.

8: Japanese books
I love reading books, but think about it that I have to read them all in English? I will take double or triple as much time as I read them in Japanese. First of all, I will definitely miss Japanese public library from which I can borrow as many as 14 books to read in 2 weeks. Living outside Japan and craving for Japanese books simply means to buy them all via Amazon and get them shipped with a fee. Oh but digital books may be useful in this case. πŸ™‚

9: Kawaii
I still believe there are kawaii goods in any countries but it seems that I’m wrong, according to the readers of TKE blog. 😦 Then I will definitely miss something kawaii once I leave Japan. Just in case you are not sure for the term “kawaii”, it doesn’t simply mean cute characters are on. Some people still seem to misunderstand that kawaii is cartoons for small children but it’s not. Kawaii can be a good design that make girls look prettier, when garment is described as kawaii, for example.

10: Japanese foods, especially Japanese rice and soy sauce
Even though I’m not much in love with certain Japanese foods such as tofu, miso soup, oden, dried fish, and etc., being completely free from them is another story. I especially love Japanese rice and dishes seasoned with soy sauce. Is soy sauce popular everywhere now?

I think you may find out more if you remember your WOW to Japan. Having lived in this country for over 35 years, I’m not sensitive enough to realize great things I can experience in Japan. In that respect, I’m sure you can tell me better than I realize them by myself. lol

To be prepared for an earthquake

10 Mar

1 year has been passing since the 3.11 The Great Tohoku Earthquake
None of us, the Japanese can forget about this date. It was a triple disaster from earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima radiation crisis. What happened to Japan still remains a shock among people and it’s said we need several more years to recover from the damage that tsunami and radioactive contamination left. Some mothers with small children evacuated from Tohoku (affected areas) to Hokkaido or Kyushu area. Although my husband and I don’t have a small kid, we are also thinking of moving out of Japan if the circumstances allow.

What’s scary now is that people start to talk about the high chances of M8 (magnitude) class earthquake that could hit Tokyo and also an eruption of Mt. Fuji. But in fact, we can never be free from earthquake (and tsunami) no matter where we live in Japan. I’ve been getting tired of being under the risk of devastating earthquake and radiation issue. Now is the season of pollen dust. I’m lucky that I don’t have allergy against it, but what’s different about this year is that the pollen contaminated with radiation flies on the air. So I’m wearing a face mask just in case whenever I go out.

Some professors specialized with radiation say there’s no need to be scared about radiation, while some do warn it. Our government always say that it’s OK for now, but they never mention how the current situation affects in 3 years, 5 years or 10 years time. Every time some dangerous radioactive materials are found, they always repeat it should not affect us immediately. I’ve watched how our government handle the entire problem and recovery in this 12 months, but I have to say our government is not reliable. They are very slow in decision making, and you will be surprised how they took so much time for recovery and helping those who were affected by the tragedy.

At a moment, I started to think of a chance to move to Singapore. But would it be any chances for me, my husband and Pi-chan to relocate and work in other country? Pi-chan is a dog. Thus I don’t think Malaysia or Muslim country is possible, in terms of religious reason.

Meanwhile, I’m preparing for the inconvenience in case of a devastating earthquake.
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New Year's Koto and Kimono

5 Jan

Happy New Year!! πŸ˜€

I hope you had a wonderful beginning of year 2012. It was shocking that we had an earthquake on the very 1st day of 2012 but that one itself was not devastating. However, much caution does no harm. We have to be prepared all the time as long as we live in Japan. Earthquakes can occur at any place, and any time. >_<

As I promised in my last post, I'd like to share with you my koto video I especially made for you to celebrate 2012! πŸ˜€

Hope you enjoy it. (I cut and pasted from time to time because I thought it might be too long and that could be boring to you. ^ ^ So the video does not show the whole music of “Rokudan no shirabe”.)
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Wish you all a Happy New Year!

31 Dec

I found this perfect greeting poster on a closed door of a restaurant that tells they are closed for New Year until they open again on the 5th of Jan. 2012. KIRIN is a name of a Japanese beverage company and I think this poster was provided by KIRIN beer or something. (So you now know it’s not I that made this poster, hehe! πŸ™‚ )
As you can see, it’s common in Japan to have some holiday after the New Year’s Day, while we are mostly working on Christmas unless it’s on weekend.

If you are learning Japanese, you may know “あけまして (Akemashite) γŠγ‚γ§γ¨γ†(Omedetou) ございます(Gozaimasu)” which means “Happy New Year.” (In a casual way, you can omit “Gozaimasu”, and say, “Akemashite Omedetou”.) It can be used both in speaking and writing. On the other hand, θ¬Ήθ³€ζ–°εΉ΄ (Kinga Shin-nen) is a very formal way of expressing Happy New Year and it may be only found in writing and we don’t usually use this at an oral conversation. It’s often found in Nengajo (New Year’s greeting cards) as well.
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How I learned English (3) -hardships in the U.S-

28 Sep

I’d like to complete this subject with my video blog, because I found it’s easier to explain than I do it by text.
If you are new to TKE, this is the third post about How I learned English, after these posts.
How I learned English (1)-When the Japanese learn English, what do we find difficult?-
How I learned English (2)-Listening worked!-

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