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Written In Englishの記事一覧

How we are understood by the British people

2007.02.27
Dear All,

Hope this mail finds you well.

I received an e-mail from a friend of mine who lives in a town of the South-West in the UK and works as a sort of chairman of the local comettee. I have got his permission to use a part of his e-mail.

According to him, they are having the Japanese local officers this week. They have already been informed of the reasons why the officers would like to visit them and discuss some issues of how local communities should improve the quality of life in rural area. However, they do still not fully understand why they were chosen by the officers.
Now, they have been very busy welcoming the officers and have learned some cultural differences between the countries. This is because my friend sent me the e-mail that he was just interested in what I would find the tips below.


Important tips on the culture and business etiquette:
Please forgive me, colleagues that are already aware of the following:

a.. The Japanese consider it rude to blow your nose in front of them (if desperate, please leave the room)
I would confess that this is absolutely right. When I went back to Japan in July 2005, I did this twice, one in a posh cafe and the other in a restaurant. Blowing my nose, though I did very quietly, silenced people there. I felt shame on me.

b.. The exchange of business cards (meishi) is very important as this helps them to establish hierarchy. No dog-eared cards! not that any of you would! When exchanging cards the card must both be given and received with both hands. When you have received the card please study it very carefully (and slowly), to show respect, if you wish clarification on anything it is fine to ask. Avoid putting it in a pocket!
I used to do this everyday in Japan and I did not like this ritual. This is why I was excluded by them, I guess.

c.. Those who dress according to their status or position impress the Japanese (the Chairman will be suitably attired)

d.. They do not like large hand gestures (they do not talk with their hands), unusual facial expressions (caution here because a smile can mean joy or displeasure) or any dramatic movements

e.. The Japanese prefer not to use the word no (although if they say yes you can usually tell if they mean no)
From my point of view, the British do too.

f.. I am informed that they will have an interpreter, please keep eye contact with the two gentlemen and not the interpreter. Also speak in small chunks so the interpreter can do their job. Avoid the interpreter asking you to be quiet!

g.. Finally they do have a little trouble with pronouncing the letter L, tends to come out as an R
This is actually other way round. Long time ago, I already gave up my hope that I would one day become able to distinguish L and R.

It is always fascinating to know how we are understood by the others. I think that these tips are quite good.
On the other hand, this sort of thing is highly likely to happen everywhere. For instance, when the people of a small town in Japan are visited by the British local officers, what might they concern? [Oh, shall we make fish and chips for lunch for them?], [Would we really need to keep eye contact with them even if we do not want to do?], or [Which should be first, milk or tea?] etc.

The year of 2008 is going to be special for both of us.
http://www.ukjapan2008.jp/en/
It would be a good opportunity for some of you to go to Japan though I would suggest not to go there in August unless you would love to be exhausted by heat there.

The 3rd of March is the special day for girls in Japan, which is called, [MO MO NO SEKKU] or [HINA MATSURI].
スポンサーサイト

An advantage of being a Japanese

2007.02.23
Dear All,

Hello, hope this round robin mail finds you well.


Some of you may remember that I interviewed the Artistic Director of Sadler's Wells Theatre last July. At the same time, I approached the Royal Ballet to have an interview with the Director of the Company, Ms Monica Mason OBE. I simply expected that I would be provided an opportunity immediately.

However, nothing happened till last November. Several times, I called the chief press officer of the Royal Ballet, left messages on her answering machine and sent letters every month. But, nothing happened. A friend of mine, who is also a keen fan of the RB, told me one day that the officer was a bit cxx (censored). She seemed not to think about the company but to focus on her status. Frankly speaking, it is true.

Then, unexpectedly, I was invited to a small party at ROH last November and met a nice female officer from another department of the House. I told her what I was trying to do. She immediately understood that what I wanted to do would help the Royal Ballet attract more Japanese audience. So, she pushed the press officer.
The press officer phoned me finally, but she let me know the date of the interview less than 24 hours in advance that Ms Mason could meet me. I could not make it. After that, I did not hear anything from her again.

I did nearly give up my hope. Then, I saw Ms Mason at Sadler's Wells last Wednesday, 14th Feb and asked her directly to let me interview her. She immediately recognised who I was and promised me to meet me soon. After the disappointing evening by American Ballet Theatre on the day, I dashed to the flat and wrote the letters to Ms Mason as well as to the chief officer. The officer phoned me two days ago and gave me 48 hours advance notice.
Thursday is the most difficult day for me to deal with sudden changes, but this was the second and, I thought, maybe the last opportunity. So I managed to make it.

The interview with Ms Mason was absolutely rewarding. She was charming, calm and thoughtful. I thought that it was worth waiting for nine months to meet her. I also felt as if this happened in an exact right timing.
I found that she loved ballet, her company, her dancers, her colleagues and her audience. I was given 45 minutes to talk with her, but I wish I had been able to do for two hours at least. I immediately forgot the helpless officer and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with her and listening to her. When Ms Mason told me about her exciting memory with Magot Fonteyn, I was just thrilled.
I had a similar feeling when I met Mr Spalding at Sadler's Wells, it is stimulating to listen to people who are at the top of well-established organisations. For, though both Ms Mason and Mr Spalding look gentle, they clearly know who they are and what they can do for people as well as for themselves. They have something firm in them.
At the end of the interview, I told her that I would like to meet some of the dancers. I clearly understand that it was a sort of lip service, but she said to me, [I enjoyed this interview immensely, so I would tell the press officers to organise the interviews with the dancers for you]. Hoo Lay!!!!!

I can see my position. If I were a British, or if I were in Japan now, I am pretty sure that I could not have this opportunity. Since I am a Japanese who lives in London, I can get this chance. Until last year, I always felt guilty when I thought about using my status as a Japanese in the UK.
For the moment, my life has been awful. For instance, I should leave the current flat as soon as possible (I'm looking for an accommodation too) and it is a fact that it is going to take more years to finish my study. I wish I could settle in the flat, but I have to leave.
However, after the interview, I just felt, [How nice to be a Japanese here. I enjoy taking advantage of my being a Japanese]. Clearly, my advantage does not affect the life of the British. Though my life becomes tough, I am extremely and absolutely happy still. I have to admit that I was too excited to sleep last night.

By the way, since I moved to London seven years ago, I have been writing my own round robin e-mail in Japanese. The number of it are now more then 500. I send them to my friends in Japan as well as wherever my friends live. One of them forwards them to her friend, who is an editor. Two years ago, the editor asked me to give her all of my e-mails because she told me that it might be interesting to publish my e-mails as a diary. I thought how nice to have spare income in order to pay my tuition fee.
A few weeks after I sent her the files, she wrote to me:[It is really interesting to read your diary. Nonetheless, I am afraid that we would not publish it since your life in London is too much. The Japanese who are interested in the UK would love to know about afternoon tea, Beatrix Potter, Harry Potter etc, but not about the ill system of London Undergrounds, BT, Royal Mail or psychotherapy. I am sorry, but we cannot take risk]. If I worked with her, I would agree with her.

Any rate, though I do hate to listen to my voice, it is addictive to listen to Ms Mason. I just want to write a nice article for her and the Company and I wish I could write it in English to force all of you to read my article.

Thank you for reading this (too long, isn't it?) and please take care of yourself.

Toilet revolution in UK, I doubt it

2006.08.16
Dear All,

Hello, hope all of you have enjoyed autumn-like summer in the UK.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/britain/article/0,,1851007,00.html

Though not a good topic if you are about to eat something, I have found this article really interesting. As some of you may know, Japanese people are always concerned how they can be seen by others. Furthermore, these days, under their clothes too, I think.

When a leading company, TOTO, launched [Washlet] some decades ago in Japan, I think that many Japanese were embarrassed by this idea. Then, in order to break emotional barrier, TOTO created an amazing TV ad, in which a female Japanese punk singer, Jun Togawa, told customers, [You know, even bum wants to be washed too].
Since then, this type of toilet has become popular in Japan.

I too want to use this in the UK if possible, but I do think that people in the UK would be happy to use this. Not because it is expensive, but because people might not care under their clothes, which is my point of view.

If you have a chance to go to Japan, please try it, you may like it.

Enjoy the summer!
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