The green is wet in Japan

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Pick of the week from Japan, 10 – 14 July

13 Jul. Dragon flying down from the sky — the art in the rice field in Amakusa, Kumamoto

With rice of different colors, the rice field art makes in full bloom you in Yamaura district of Matsushimamachi Kyoragi, Kamiamakusa-shi, Kumamoto. The work is created by local high school students who planted five kinds of rice, including the ancient rice, in June. One may enjoy it until the middle of October.

The Japanese green is wet — every time I look down the Narita area from the window of an airplane when approaching to the Narita International Airport, I see the difference in the green color of rice field, woods and orchards between the impression of the green between Japan and Europe. The European green is dry.

The Japanese traditionally planted the young shoot of rice by hand. This still is the practice for most of the farmers.

Hence the art like the one in the photo is possible.

Rice growing is very labour intensive. It requires villagers to get together and work together to maintain infrastructure needed for rice growing. Water supply system, cultivating the land in early spring, to name just a few.

An american business man I met said that he had been frustrated by “the group culture” by the Japanese when he has been stationed there. He wanted to talk to a person but Japanese always responded him as a role player in a group to which he/she belongs to.

I think he should have modified his communication to be appropriate in a group culture, forgetting the American way. The American green is dry, as compared to Japanese.

A group culture sometimes produces such a beautiful scene by planting the rice by hand according to a carefully organised plan.

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  • The news items referred here are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The cited titles or articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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  • Interested in our cross-cultural trainings, coaching and consulting to move forward business with Japan? Please talk to us.
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Open workshop: Leadership for multi-cultural team, Geneva, 19 July

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Leadership for multi-cultural team

Diversity

Is it you?

  • “I wish to have clues to better interact with my colleagues with variety of backgrounds”
  • “I am not sure if I’m interacting well with my multinational colleagues.”
  • “Am I motivating my multi-cultural team in the right way?”
  • “How can I motivate everyone in my multi-cultural team?”
  • “I want to meet other managers in a similar position and exchange experience”
  • “I prefer a small class so that I can discuss better with lecturer and other participants”

If you say “Yes!” to one of the problems above, why don’t you join in the workshop? In the workshop you will learn internal, hence, invisible drivers of your multi-cultural team.

*** To ensure efficient leaning experience,
the workshop will be limited to five (5) participants ***

Topics discussed —

  • Why is culture in business so important?
  • The trap of “cultural bias”
  • Clues to better understand your multi-cultural team – Six dimensions of National Cultures, drawn upon the framework established by Professor G. Hofstede, one of the most cited in the domain of international management
  • Clues for leadership and motivation in your team
  • Your action plan

Date: 18:15, Wednesday 19 July

  • 18:15 Workshop
  • 20:30 Aperitif and Networking
  • Venue   Calliopée, Business Center
    Rue de Chantepoulet 10, 1202 Genève
    Two minutes on foot form Geneva station
  • Fee   CHF 100.- (To pay at the door)
  • Language   English

Click here for registration and information.
Please write, “I will join in the open workshop” in the message box.

I look forward to seeing you!

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  • Interested in our cross-cultural trainings, coaching and consulting to move forward business with Japan? Please talk to us.

My “Taken for granted” is not the same as yours — Cross-Cultural Understanding with Japan

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The workshop of “Cross-Cultural Understanding with Japan” was very resourceful, participated by a good-mixture of European and Japanese people.

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Yoshiko Kurisaki is moderating discussion

Here are a summary of highlights for those who couldn’t come and those who wish to know clues underlying the Japanese business:

  • Culture is like an iceberg. Eighty percent of the iceberg is under the sea and we don’t see it. So called “typical” Japanese culture, such as sushi, high-tech instruments, kimono, bowing, are all the tip of iceberg supported by the rituals, geography, history, values, etc. hidden under the water.
  • Major factors from which Japan is made  — Geographic location and its historical consequences, climate, rice-growing culture and the peace that lasted for 700 years.
  • The Japanese trap — Unconscious bias by the Western managers visiting Japan
  • A significant difference in the meaning of silence and space between Europe and Japan. It was proven that thirty-seconds’ silence is too long and uncomfortable for the Europeans, while nothing in particular for the Japanese.
  • Uchi- Soto“, the way the Japanese position you as a European business partner.
  • Relationship, not individuals, counts

It is worth noting that discussion by participants enriched the workshop, as well as eye-opening exercises.

Listening and observing others without judgement by one’s values is a good start for understanding of other cultures. In doing so it is natural that you may get upset or find someone strange. Such moment is a wonderful opportunity for you to know your own values. Think “Against what criteria am I upset? “

Working across cultures is not always easy but rewarding. Cultural diversity enables 1 + 1 be more than 3, 4 and more, and ultimately leads to the innovation.

Last but not the least, many thanks must go to the Swiss-Japanese Chamber of Commerce (SJCC) which invited us for the workshop and Sunstar SA for the nice seminar room and warm reception!

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Veronica De la Fuente

 

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Discussion by participants was a vital part of the workshop

 

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Open Workshop for Cross-Cultural Understanding with Japan, Etoy, VD, 20 April

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【Unusual opportunity to know what’s inside a Japanese head】
I am delivering “Workshop for Cross-Cultural Understanding with Japan”, an open workshop of Swiss-Japanese Chamber of Commerce (SJCC).

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Are these your problems?

  • “The Japanese decision-making process is so mysterious!”
  • “I don’t know if I’m interacting well with my Japanese colleagues.”
  • “Why do the Japanese always do things in their own way?”
  • “How can I say ‘No’ to my Japanese customers without offending them?”
  • “Japanese customers don’t complain when they are not satisfied with our service, but they just never come back to us.”

If you say “Yes!” to one of the problems above, this workshop is for you. The workshop will enable you to learn about the internal drivers of your Japanese business partners and colleagues.

Topics discussed —

  • Why is culture in business so important?
  • The trap of “cultural bias”
  • Major factors underlying Japanese business culture
  • Five clues to increase productivity in working with the Japanese
  • Your personal action plan

For more detail and registration

  • Date: Thursday, 20 April
    • 18:00 Workshop
    • 20:00 Aperitif and Networking
  • Venue: Sunstar Suisse SA, Route de Pallax 11, 1163 Etoy, VD
  • Fee
    • SJCC Members   CHF 100.-
    • Non-SJCC   CHF 150.-
    • Special Offer: “Come with three, pay for two” — If two people participate from the same organisation, the third person will be free.

For more detail and registration

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Where different ideas meet, a brand new idea is born — KitKat Sushi

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My friend in Tokyo sent me a Valentine’s gift — KitKat Sushi.

Though what I received was its online news (see a link below), hence nothing romantic, the news was sufficiently inspiring.

Why? The KitKat Sushi typically demonstrates where innovation is born; Where two different things meet, there is a brand new idea. That is the reason why diversity is essential for innovation.

kitkat-sushi

 

For the original news, please read –> CNN News, 2 Feb. 2016, “KitKat sushi: Has Japan gone too far?” 

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Japanese business culture for international students

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I delivered a class on Japanese business culture to a group of international students studying marketing in a course lead by Professor Masahito Toriyama at Graduate School of Management, Ritsumeikan University.

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In the class, I introduced a method of case exercise based in a real issue. This was a trouble between a Japanese client and an Indian information technology system developer.

Though the Japanese business culture was not a major theme of the students, they did good discussion on the questions associated with the case and reached excellent solutions; such as “I’ll put myself in the Japanese customer’s shoes”, “I’ll make it a habit to talk to my subordinates much more frequently so that our communication will go well.”, etc.

The students deepened their own thoughts through discussion. What a wonderful ability they have!

The real business is full of questions without one correct answer. This even is the case when people having different cultures work together, i.e. the international business. I found that the case exercise was useful to develop a mind-set to look into these questions and find creative solutions that will allow 1 + 1 = 3, 4, 5 … This is the power of discussion, or collective thinking. This attitude is essential for us to benefit from society where a large variety of people live and work together, or diversity in society.

Please find here for your information a power point file used in the class.

Note: The case used here is cited from “Case exercises for business communication, collection os the cases” by Kondoh,Kim et al. (Koko Publishing, 2013).

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Amazing Japan! (2) Stop texting while walking on the platform of subway stations

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This poster I saw in a subway station is not a joke or Science Fiction (SF). A number of people are taking risks and some even got serious accidents in railway stations in Japan every day !

日本に来てビックリ‼️これ、ジョークじゃないんですね。ある地下鉄駅でみかけたポスターです。

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