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

Welcome to Europe-Japan Dynamics!

This is our blog page.

Please click here for what we do.
Please click here for who we are.
************************************

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?” 

************************************

Please click here for what we do.
Please click here for who we are.

Advertisements

Thank to gifts — Hidden gaps you may not notice, Business communications between Europe and Japan (2)

Thank to gifts

“Japanese people don’t thank to the gifts. They thank when receive it, but no comments on the gift afterwards.” says Mary, a General Director for Europe of a Japanese Company A. She looks sad a little.

She is kind and cares for people’s hearts and minds in business, as much as she does in her private life.

Every time she travels to Japan for business, she brings some gifts. These are not only for senior executives she meets, but for managers and assistants who help her meetings and travels. Gifts are rather simple but carefully selected; for example Swiss cookies which are traditional from the northern region of the country.

Being European, she has difficulty in understanding why her Japanese colleagues do not give her a feed back  of the gifts, though they welcomes them when they receive them. Mary naturally expects comments such as “I liked the Swiss chocolate you gave me. It tasted very special!”

One day, Mary brought to her Japanese boss a bottle of a high quality brandy made at the year of his birth. Knowing her boss’ age, I’d think the gift quite expensive and she had to search it spending time. It is her gift with her heart.

To her disappointment, Mary got no response from him.

“Why??? He is not closed-minded. He is well aware of the international business manners. Nevertheless, why he doesn’t say anything about the brandy?”

I understand both Mary’s sadness and Japanese habit.

I explained her that Japanese don’t have a habit of opening the gift in front of someone who gave it to him/her, and that Japanese do appreciate your caring mind represented by the gifts but that they just don’t have a habit of telling you afterwards how they felt about the gifts.

Mary was not convinced. She said, “We are carrying on international business. Japanese people should follow the international business manner.”

She is right. I however think that it will take years for home-grown Japanese to adapt an international business habit, especially on gifts. It will be one of the last things which Japanese men would absorb and integrate in their mindset. While Japanese women are freer to express their feeling than men, men would still shy off to express their emotion.

I am sorry to Mary, but please rest assured that Japanese do appreciate your caring mind.

Hidden gaps you may not notice — How to better understand cross-cultural communications in business with Japanese (1)

Having lived in Europe for 20+ years, and being Japanese myself, I have come to notice a number of hidden gaps in business communication between Europeans and Japanese. In international business, people communicate in English, and they write well. It is ironical that well written English hides essential communication gaps, while there is no problem in the texts.

The gap is not a matter of communicating with foreign languages, but largely a cultural issue. In other words, the context of languages used by both Europeans and Japanese are different. Languages in business need to be understood in line with the way of thinking of your counterpart of communication, not yours.

Such hidden gaps fascinate me, as they offer valuable clues of cross-cultural communications.

I am writing essays on the hidden communication gaps in business from time to time, picking up interesting episodes I come across in my day-to-day business life.

Please share with me a joy and magic of cross-cultural communications!

********************************************************************************

Japanese don’t say NO. Understand the answer in the context.

Mr. Suzuki’s case

Mary, a director general for Europe of Company A, plans to meet with Ms Tanaka, a director of a company B, during her next business travel to Japan. Mary has asked Mr. Suzuki, a manager in the Tokyo branch of Company A, to take an appointment with Ms Tanaka. Though Mary knew her in person, she has asked Mr. Suzuki for coordination, as she knows it a Japanese way of working.

During the course of e-mail exchange with Mr. Suzuki, however, Mary has become unsure if she is meeting with Ms Tanaka on Wednesday or Thursday as Mary requested.

To clarify the date, Mary wrote to Mr. Suzuki; “Dear Mr. Suzuki, Please could you seek her confirmation as to the good date for her, Wednesday or Thursday?”

Mr. Suzuki replied: “Dear Mary-san, I already communicate with Ms Tanaka-san. She is so busy from Wednesday to Thursday.”

Mary thought, “Yes or NO??? Mr. Suzuki appears to be still negotiating the date, though Ms Tanaka will be busy during these two days. Will I meet Ms Tanaka?”

Ms Tanaka’s case

Mary has decided to write to Ms Tanaka directly, as Mary didn’t want to push Mr. Suzuki further. Mary is well aware of the delicacy of communications with Japanese people.

“Dear Tanaka-san,

I hope you are well. I understand that you will have engagements on Wednesday and Thursday. Please do not worry, we can organise another time. If you come to Europe, let me know in advance so we can organise lunch or coffee here.”

If Ms Tanaka would reply, “I am so sorry that we can’t meet this time. I look forward to seeing you my next travel to Europe”, there will not be a meeting in Tokyo. If her reply would be, “Yes, we are going to meet. I advised Mr. Suzuki that I was still working on my agenda to spare time to see you.”, Mary will meet Ms Tanaka.

To Mary’s surprise, Ms Tanaka’s reply was beyond her imagination.

“Thanks, Mary-san.

I hope you enjoy Japanese spring and syabu-syabu!!

Best regards, Tanaka (Ms)”

Mary has finally interpreted that Ms Tanaka wanted to say “No”, without saying “No”.