カテゴリーのアイコン Work Life in Japan
4 Essential Japanese Work Culture : Tips to Fit in Japanese Workplace
Mar 22, 2024
5 min read
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Japan is a country with a special working environment. If you plan to work in Japan in the future, there are several specific rules related to manners and Japanese work culture that you should get to know before entering any company.

This article will introduce 4 things you should keep in mind while working in Japan.

Greetings at The Workplace!

The word “aisatsu” (挨拶) means “greeting” in Japanese. Aisatsu is very important and considered as a common manner in all cultures around the world, not just Japan. However, there are some considerable differences between Japanese-styled greetings and Western-styled greetings that you need to pay attention to.

In many western countries, handshaking is a common way of greeting. However, in Japan, handshaking is not as common and bowing is much more prevalent as a custom. One more interesting thing: In Japan, greetings are more of a routine in a natural reflex rather than a way to express feeling or emotion.

Moreover, it is common practice in Japan for a kohai (junior) to greet their senpai (senior) first. Especially if you are a new employee, it is important for you to greet first according to the custom of kohai-senpai. This is not only a way to show your respect to other seniors in the company, but it is also a way to show your effort of integrating into a new working environment.

Below are some basic greeting phrases at workplace you should keep in mind:

・Ohayou gozaimasu (おはようございます): Good morning

・Osaki ni shitsurei shimasu (お先に失礼します): pardon me for leaving first (used when leaving a workplace while others remain)

・Otsukaresama desu (お疲れ様です): Thank you for your hard work

Teamwork and "Horenso"

Most Japanese companies emphasize teamwork. People tend to work on projects as a team. It is rare to get personal work done on a job in a Japanese company. Instead, people in the same companies tend to see their coworkers as teammates and always think or decide on things together.

Working as a team requires every member to follow the rule. “HORENSO” is the most important Japanese working rule that you always have to remember in order to achieve the highest working efficiency.

Basically, HORENSO stands for:

HOKOKU: Reporting

RENRAKU: Contacting

SODAN: Discussion

HOKOKU means regularly reporting to managers and colleagues about your work progress, problems that arise or duties that you have completed. RENRAKU means you always have to update information to the relevant departments to avoid arising incidents. Lastly, SODAN is discussing. It is necessary to discuss with people in your team in order to understand your task and together come up with the best solution.

“Nominication” in Japan

Nominication is a combination of two words – “nomi” (Japanese: to drink) and “communication”. In Japanese culture, drinking is about building friendship. In business settings, drinking parties are considered as a means of helping to build closer relationships between colleagues, juniors and superiors, as well as clients. It’s all about deepening bonds.

If you are someone who really enjoys drinking parties then the good news is that: Japanese companies often hold drinking parties at regular intervals for events such as welcome parties, farewell parties, year end parties, New Year parties, anniversary parties, and cherry blossom viewing parties.

People consider these kinds of events the opportunity to get on well with colleagues or strengthen the cooperation of the company. Drinking parties are usually held at some Japanese styled izakaya. After that, there will be the second party “nijikai” which is often held somewhere such as karaoke or bowling. For the last round, the remaining people will enjoy having ramen together.

Emphasize More on Work Process

Obviously, results are important. But, many Japanese companies emphasize more on the working process as well. Your performance will be assessed based on how hard you worked and what positive impact you made on those around you.

Overall evaluation of the work process helps the managers to assess your ability and effort at work in the most appropriate way.

Therefore, even if the final result is not amazing, it will be highly appreciated if you can show your efforts and teamwork in the process. Keep showing it will lead to a higher evaluation by your boss and the opportunity to be given a new job or a promotion.

Master Japanese Working Culture!

Work culture is different in each country and Japan has a unique work culture compared to other countries. In order to feel comfortable working in a Japanese company, it is necessary to learn about the Japanese work culture before joining the company.

However, as you have seen, what you need to be aware of in the Japanese workplace is very simple. Greet people well, be aware of teamwork, and work hard. Even if you are not confident in your Japanese skills, you will be able to fit in with a Japanese company by practicing these skills.

It may seem challenging, but learning these customs will influence your success. It might be a good idea to practice some of it with your friends and make it a daily habit. So, master Japanese work culture and be successful in the Japanese workplace!

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