society reports

These reports discuss Sharky's experiences dealing with Japanese society and some of his observations about their culture, both in and out of the workplace.


Japanese business culture has a very strict set of "do's" and "don't's." There is an order concerning who can introduce whom to whom, and exchanging business cards is an art that requires careful study.


A good baseball team is a very important symbol of a company's glory. It is a tool for unifying the company and earning the community's respect.


The Japanese suffix -san does not show sufficient respect when addressing company members. Members should be called by their rank whenever possible, but upper management has no such obligation when addressing lower rank.


Through subcontracting, Japanese companies perform a smaller range of services than those which they offer to their customers. The formation of company groups encourages the formation of a steady and loyal customer base. Large companies expand by creating smaller, independent subcontracting companies.


Seino Un'yu created Seino Information Services (SIS) as a subsidiary company to handle its information processing needs. Both companies are now symbiotically locked in business together, but SIS is gradually outgrowing its mother company. Japanese business methods make the formation of "groups" very important for survival.


Japan's so-called "lifetime employment system" does not really exist as a hard and fast policy in most companies. Anthropologists have exaggerated the phenomenon and believe in its existence more than the Japanese themselves do. Where lifetime employment does exist, it is merely a side-effect of the fact that employees know they will do better if they stick around.


Gift giving is an important step in getting to know others, and the rules of it must be mastered. Gift giving helps guests and hosts feel comfortable with each other. Although foreigners aren't necessarily expected to give gifts, when they do, it helps to bridge an awkward cultural gap.


Drinking is an effective tool for bonding among Japanese workers, but doing so requires adherence to several rules of etiquette.


In Japan, one is not recognized as a "member of society" until he is a full time employee. Work is a much more important part of life in Japan than it is in the United States.


During our trip to Mt. Fuji, my wife and I learned that, at least in matters of outdoor survival, Japanese value commerce and quick fixes more than careful preparation.


Pornography runs rampant in nearly every aspect of Japanese life.


The Japanese have uniform for nearly every role in society. It helps maintain the order and homogeneity.


I experience some of the ceremonies of a traditional Japanese wedding, but not the actual wedding itself, which is open to only the closest family members.


When an important company member dies, nearly everything comes to a halt so that proper respect can be paid. Employees react as if it were a death in the family.


Foreigners are popular in Japan because they are rare and exotic, but the special treatment they receive also helps them remember that they are guests and cannot stay forever.