Discover New Things From Traditions

It is good to know that more young Japanese people started to recognize values in Japanese traditional culture.  As for me, kimono became one of my casual clothes as a friend of mine who runs a kimono shop in Ginza suggested me wear silk ones to prevent skin problems such as rash and itchiness from chemical fiber and sweat.  I never thought kimono really fits Japanese women this much after I started to wear it casually.


The first time that I decided to take the advantage of being Japanese in understanding and practicing Japanese traditional culture was when I studied in the States.  Of course, I needed to prioritize what I want to learn as I am not that rich to learn everything.   


As I value Japanese cultural traditions, I want to know and adopt new culture from other countries of the world so that the Japanese tradition would evolve.

Now, let’s take a look at the company culture of the multi-national company that I work for.  Non-Japanese members often say many Japanese tend to hesitate to adopt new and different ideas.  In many cases, they said, when Japanese fail for their overseas’ assignment, they push their ways to local employees without adopting the ways that local people feel comfortable or believe efficient.  In reverse, Japanese members in Japan tend to deny, without considering the reasons, what non-Japanese members in Japan recommend or suggest.  Well, many Japanese members are tired to listen what cannot be solved in a short term and to implement immediately without believing it works.  It is sad to see these conflicts between Japanese vs. Non-Japanese so often.  Are Japanese members too stubborn?  Or, do Non-Japanese members want to try understanding the Japanese market?  It’s a chicken and egg situation.  One thing that I can say is to improve the situation is not to take a position of confrontation but to try to understand what has to be solved.  I hate to say this but I see many Japanese members tend to give millions of reasons why they cannot do the requests or, even worse, to leave it as is after they say, “yes.”


When some new suggestions or recommendations are raised, without thinking with big sigh, “Not again,” Japanese should re-consider what the purpose of doing it and organize what can be done in a short time.  Fortunately, the situation has been gradually improved for the past five years.

Furthermore, in the eyes of Japanese who love “harmony”, some ways non-Japanese act in office sometimes are not acceptable or something that they want to ignore.  For example, although this is a small incident, Japanese do not reserve a meeting room for senior managers (not board of directors), so called “board room.”  Or, even if they think about it once, they are afraid to be told by their peers, “what do you think you are?”  Non-Japanese tend not to hesitate to reserve the room as they believe they have a “valid” reason to use.

Also, non-Japanese tend to aggressively speak up in a meeting and to try to show their skills and ability where as Japanese try to hold their opinions until they are sure or forced to say in the meeting because they believe the result of their opinions might be a response from other members saying, “don’t pretend that you know everything because you don’t know yet,” or, “don’t start unnecessary discussions as there will be no solutions found in the meeting but they just cause chaos.”


Given the example above, I don’t think I can reserve the “board room,” or I cannot appeal my existence by speaking up my opinions in a meeting for my career.  Well, once I accepted non-Japanese advice and tried to speak up in a meeting but I experienced terrible reactions after the meeting from Japanese peers.  Maybe one of the reasons of the reactions was because I am a woman.


In any event, in order to win the battle in the market place, constructive discussions are indispensable.

Difference in opinions will generate new and innovative ideas for competitive advantage.  Even we cannot find the solution at the meeting, we can at least agree to form an ad-hoc team to find solutions in the near future.  I believe this is far much better in finding a further step for growth than shutting the mouth and leave it as is.

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