A Travellerspoint blog

In The Japanese Pace

The daily Routine

Well, I guess that by reading my through my blog so far you were thinking "... this Oliver has an easy life, just hanging around in Kyoto and eat sushi.." All wrong!

I had to wait a little to describe the standard daily pace.
Usually try to be up at 8am then study for an hour Japanese before I eat a "heavy duty" breakfast.
So work starts at 10am (and now you think again that's an easy one...)
fortunately I don't have to commute, it's just 5min away by foot.
The official lunch break is from 12.30 to 13.30 during which I usually have lunch at Makoto's place or go for one of "o'bento" "take away menu" place. It is possible to get really good food for a couple of Yens.
Then back to work for the hardest part: official leaving hour is 7pm... but it usually get at least 8... 9... or 12pm. I guess that you already knew about Japanese working hours. After dinner at home I try to spend some time learning vocabulary. I other words it can get a little late. You might now understand why you don't get so many email and I'm not adding so often new entries in my blog.
I really wonder why office hours are so shifted??

The office in which I work is fairly small, about 10 people working. All employee are really nice and helpful. No one except Makoto so to say, can speak English.
That is good for my Japanese but can get tricky when I should understand quickly something... luckily we're designer and can draw :)
Ok, ok, I have to admit too that it's quite challenging to work on Japanese computer programs... so I mainly use my own laptop.
They're very encouraging me when I try to speak in Japanese. I get the usual "Gambatte, gambatte" "Give your best/try again".
One emplyee still made a comment that that it might be better for me to take Japanese classes instead of karate classes... grrrrr
Among employees the hierarchy is fairly flat. The BIG step is towards the president of the company and his wife who is working there too.
I really have to change my behavior and use a different vocabulary when I have a discussion with him/them.
One example that shows (at least for me) that they treat me "equally" is that I can join meeting with clients even if I don't get much of the discussion.
I think the most difficult part of the work is to judge how much personal initiative is expected from the single employee. Quite challenging for me since I like to take decisions and initiatives... Sometimes I really have to contain myself. But all this is part of the deal, and I knew that before I came.

Each week every employee gets a new weekly task: I started with emptiyng trash bins, then vacuuming. There one weekly duty is to bring tea during meeting with clients. It might sound laim and easy to you, but one of the employee explained me what the proper/ traditional look like.
First you have to check out the table where people are seated.
The clients are seating on one side the host on the other. The lowest in rank will be seated the closest to the entrance, the highest the furthest away from the door. For the hosts the layout is mirrored, obviously.
Once you retained how many of them were there, you'll prepare the green tea in the kitchen. First you preheat the bowls and get the water at 90 degrees. And now it gets interesting: you'll pour the tea starting with the one for the person lowest in rank of the hosts. Then continue clockwise and finish with the very first bowl. Like this, the person with the lowest rank will get the "top and bottom" from the tea. The "top" is not yet very tasty, the "bottom" might gotten a little bitter and colder... You see everything has a reason.
If you're lucky you might remember which bowl was for who and if you're really smart you serve them in the correct order, starting from the highest in rank from the clients. Pfff, more than just tea as you can see...
(corrections are welcome)

Of course there are many other things to write about but a public blog might not be the appropriate place to talk about this things. Not that there is much negative to talk about but it might just be too private for me or for the company.

Okay, that about it for today, I should go back to my vocabulary. There is lots left to be learned.

Posted by oliver_f 10:26

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Comments

hi hi, i didn't know you are training as a geisha :P just kidding.
so glad you can learn deeply about a foreign culture. its sound challenging but exicting at the same time.
didn't know they start work so late and leave late too, funny.

be a good boy and couldn't wait to you serve us a cup of prefect tea :)

by ahtung

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