Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tokyo: Initial business observations

A few more observations:
  1. There aren't really street signs in Japan for small streets. I have no idea how anyone finds anything. In Manhattan, you could give me any address on the grid (324 W 91 St.) and I can find it. Here, without my trusty GPS, I'd be lost. (This reminds of a trick an 80 year old cousin of mine taught me: if you want to know how to get back somewhere, add it as a favorite on your GPS-enabled Google Maps. Then, you can always have Google Maps give you directions to get back there. He uses it when he parks a car in a large garage. I use it to get back to my hotel.)
  2. In Japan, the equivalent of Mr. or Ms. is adding san to the end of your name. So, Mr. Green would be Green-san. There are two peculiarities to this. The first is that this form is used in both the third person and in writing, by adults. It's equivalent to someone saying they were working on a project with Mr. Green, and even writing "as Mr. Green argued" in a slide. The second is that this honor is only for Japanese people. One of the clients is Korean, and so he just gets referred to be his last name.
  3. In two of the higher level meetings I was in today, one of the women (who I think also works as a receptionist) brought in tea and cold water for each participant, and actually served us at the conference table. I've never seen that before in a meetin
  4. Japanese businessmen really do give out business cards with both hands (imagine your fingernails touching, knuckles facing out, and your thumbs parallel and touching).
  5. It's amazing to be on a project team where I'm the only American. The senior manager is from Austria, married to a man from Japan, and lives in Singapore. The full time engagement manager is from Turkey but lives in Australia. The other consultant is from Singapore. The last two went to Penn and Columbia respectively, so they have spent some time in the US. That said, it is totally jarring to really how utterly American I am, in speech, mannerism, metaphor, and action.


danielle said...
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danielle said...

Yes! You ARE in fact American. That is fascinating: the -sen and how it is only used for Japanese people.

Is the subway mapped out in a logical manner? I've heard that New York's subway is ridiculous and illogical. Its the first subway system I learned, so until recently, I assumed all such systems were illogical and must be memorized by usage. Apparently London's subway system is very logically mapped out, but the roads are impossible.