🌸Japanese Customer : Stories


Showing posts with label Stories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stories. Show all posts

June 28, 2022

What I learnt living and working in Japan. Lessons, insights and tips

What I learned living and working in Japan. Lessons, insights, and tips

Working in Japan #japanesecustomer

                                                     Working in Japan #japanesecustomer

Copyright JapaneseCustomer.com.2015. All Rights Reserved.

Japan’s economy with an annual gross domestic product of US $5.405 trillion (2017 est.), a population of 126,451,398 (July 2017 est.), and a GDP per head of US $42,700 (2017 est.) according to the CIA Fact Book.

Why Japan

As a kid growing up in Australia, watching Japanese anime cartoons on television after school was a daily ritual along with eating a slice of bread spread with Vegemite and jumping on the couch. Drawn by the mystique, we acted out the stories after school. These experiences created an interest in Japan that lead to an opportunity to live and work in Japan for a Japanese company.

The job

My key responsibilities were customer satisfaction and business development, for a privately owned company in Kyoto. The company which began in 1972 had its own publishing division, travel agency, and an annual turnover estimated at 75 billion yen.

The hiring process

The interview process consisted of three interviews with three interviewers. It was customary for two interviewers at a time to ask questions while a third would observe and take notes. This was real psychological interviewing, where every word was recorded, questions were repeated and your answers were checked for accuracy. It felt like you were being totally dissected.

Your ability, mood, qualifications, experience, personality, and character were all thoroughly analyzed over and over again. Interviews lasted an average of 40 minutes at a time. In between interviews you were asked to perform a range of practical tasks. Tasks were written on a piece of paper and once issued had to be performed with no preparation. You had a few seconds to read the scenario, collect the materials you required to perform it and then start the task. For example: "What would you do in this situation?" 

At the end of each day, attendees were given a phone number which had to be called at a certain time that evening. It felt like a 007 movie. This was to ascertain if you had passed the day's training. If you were invited the next day your interview continued, if you were not it ended abruptly on the phone, a phone call that you paid for. After three eight-hour days of interviews, impromptu activities, and secret phone calls, five out of three hundred and fifty were selected to enter Japan Inc.

Arrival in Japan

On arrival in Japan at 10 pm on a Sunday night, we were met at the airport by the head of the region and individually escorted to our hotel. After checking in we went to dinner at a local restaurant where we met the staff and managers of our section. The next day, the manager met us at the hotel and escorted us to the office where we were allocated a workspace, work schedule, and seventy-five clients. I started work immediately.


Japanese companies are known for their long-term plans, scheduling months in advance and planning minute details. My impression was that Japanese companies aim to improve their operations by continuously fine-tuning their approach as they better understand the market and their customers. For example, the sales process at my company was as smooth as a well-oiled machine.

How did it work? Simple advertising with a clear message and a genuine money-saving offer, exceptional customer service (phone or drop in inquiries) and benefits presented in a casual but convincing way. Sales interviews took up to six hours, at which time the manager would call out for lunch and the presentation would continue. The result of the system was that 95% of new business was signed.


Punctuality is everything in Japan and is a skill you learn very quickly if you want to get ahead. Being early isn’t rude but lateness is inexcusable. In my company, if you were late more than three times you were not eligible for a promotion that year.

Timecards were the norm and head office analyzed each imprint on your card. In Japan, you can't say the train was late as it is a rare occurrence and if they are, your manager will call the station and check. If a train is late, an employee must get a statement from the station staff that explains the situation officially. A chiensho meisho. This note must be given to your manager and will account for your lateness on your work record.

Time is accounted for like money, very carefully.


As an employee of a Japanese company, you put in extra hours each day as a sign of respect and loyalty to your employer. My job started at 12 noon but I was expected to be in by 11 am and use the hour before to prepare, making sure I was 100% ready for the start of business. The same applied at the end of the workday. 
We officially finished at nine but stayed on until 10 pm doing our individual paperwork and after that helping other staff. We all took turns cleaning the office, reporting information to head office, and undertaking management requests. On top of this, we all had our only daily routines for setting up and packing away business materials.

In return, the company paid for our transport to and from work, subsidized our rent, and paid for our health insurance and annual health check-up. A health check-up consisted of a visit to a local hospital where you had a number of tests done all during the one visit. These consisted of a blood test, ECG, chest X-ray, urine test, height, weight, BMI, blood pressure, etc.

Results were sent out to the following week and you had a summary on a one-page sheet that could be easily compared to the last year's check. This system allows the doctor to quickly identify any changes and to send you for more tests. In my opinion, this is probably one of the reasons why the Japanese have one of the longest life expectancies.

Value of Money 

In Japan, you really learn the value of money. Money in Japan is sacred. As there is no welfare system as we know it in the West, you work to survive. No middle ground. Money is your key to life in Japan and is taken very seriously. Contracts you write are checked by three or four people for errors before being approved, refunds are tripled checked before being issued and your change is repeatedly counted in front of you in stores. 

When you eat at a restaurant, it is custom for everyone to pay for what he or she ate, this is known as betsu betsu.

In terms of sales performance, every yen must be accounted for. During a normal workday, head office would telephone constantly asking for our sales figures. Long faxes would stream throughout the day motivating us to sell more and meet our targets. They would be pinned up around the office, so all employees could see them.

Birkenstock Super Birki Clogs could just about be the ideal shoes for working and travelling in Japan.

Management style

The management style of the company could be best described as close. All staff worked together to ensure customer needs were met. Every day I would report seven or eight times to my manager and at least once a day with the branch office regarding sales, customer preferences, and my progress in relation to targets.

A typical day would start with a meeting in Japanese, to ascertain the goals and schedule for each person for that day. Every member of staff would report what they planned to do that day, for example, which customers they would speak to regarding re-signing their business, targets set and the amount of sales they hoped to make. This was recorded and questioned by management and by the other employees.

A large part of my job was to manage seventy-five clients and to ensure that they re-signed their business with the company. This included using a range of techniques including phone calls, postcards, entertaining them, visits to their office or home, and anything innovative that kept them satisfied and happy to renew their business. My manager of our branch knew all the four hundred plus customers and had all their details memorized including their likes, dislikes, children’s names, etc, and knew exactly when their contract would expire and the value of their business. As a team, we worked to maximize customer satisfaction and ensure high retention.

Customer service

Customer service started with how the phone was answered, how walk-in customers were greeted and made to feel comfortable with a fresh cup of green tea and it continued when you called clients at their homes if they were running late or missed an appointment. We lent customers an umbrella if it started to rain outside or walked them to the station with an umbrella so they would not get wet. 

Customer service in Japan means 150% focus on anticipating and meeting customer requirements, even if they are unrelated to the business at hand. Any chance to make a favourable, lasting impression is sought after.

Mental discipline

The Japanese have a skill that allows them to focus on something so well that they can block everything else out. For example, the pressure you are put under in Japan is enormous, for example: you must always be on time, be polite, be well presented, remember the company rules, think of others first, work with others in harmony, work long hours without complaint and get things right, (what you say, what you do and your paperwork with no mistakes). To do this every day, six days a week is a powerful skill and they do it very well.

Work-life versus private life

Japanese people are often described as being unemotional. My experience is that they have the same emotions as you and I; the difference is how and when they show their emotion. Work takes up a lot of your time in Japan and because you’re expected to perform at your best at all times, to show your emotions at work would detract from the skills required to do your job, so it is understood that you don’t show your emotions at work. After work, it is common to go out with work colleagues for dinner, karaoke or drinking. At these times you get a chance to talk more openly and build relationships.

Simple life

In Japan, my daily life consisted of working, eating, bathing, and sleeping. Visiting a bathhouse on the way home from work is a customary way to relax and to relieve stress before going home. I had no computer in my office, no lunchtime rush to pay bills, no lines at the bank, and no problems with poorly trained staff. Using my mobile phone I could order a pizza in English, change my mobile phone plan, surf the Internet and send emails in 1999.


Vacation time in Japan is precious. The amount you get per year is based on your rank and years of service with the company. Annual leave in my first year was 10 paid days plus national holidays. To take a paid vacation day you have to put in a formal written request. To start the whole process I had to check the dates and times of my vacation with the other staff in the office.

As a new employee, I had to respect the plans of older more senior staff whose vacation requests superseded mine. This took over a week as we had a mix of full and part-time staff. After checking and confirming the dates I could then submit my request to the manager for consideration. Once approved it would be sent to head office. All requests had to be submitted 30 days prior to the date requested. Rules required that no more than four days at a time could be taken at once for my level. As part of the process, I had to be aware that the next time I applied for leave I couldn't take the same day of the week off. For example: If I took Wednesday to Saturday off this time, I had to take off Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday in my next request.

It is easy to see why a Japanese honeymoon couple only travels abroad for four days at a time, as it is very difficult to organize time off.  

Japan is a fantastic place and will show you a range of new experiences that will change how you view the world.

could just about be the ideal shoes for working and travelling in Japan.

#working #living #japan #insights #businessmodels #workethic #japanesecustomer #article

Copyright JapaneseCustomer.com.2015. All Rights Reserved

June 14, 2022

Housing: 🌸 Creative house of a Japanese Customer in Kyoto -The Face House by Kazumasa Yamashita,

woven silk banner kurama kyoto japan #japanesecustomer
                             Photo: Woven silk banner Kurama Kyoto Japan #japanesecustomer

''Face House by Kazumasa Yamashita, 1974. Unusual enough to receive a praising write-up in The Architectural Review in 1975.

The eyes, nose, and mouth are functional, serving as doors and windows (there’s even a small window hidden in a nostril). The ground floor was designed for two retail spaces, while the second and third floors are a four-bedroom family residence with a roof terrace above. Located in Kyoto. Not for sale.

To see the video of the house click the link below

Source: Zoe Ward

#creative #design #japanesecustomer #housing #architecture #video #kyoto

June 13, 2022

Photo: 🌸 Japanese customers in Ginza,Tokyo in the 1870s

japanese modern camera #japanesecustomer

                          Photo: Japanese modern camera #japanesecustomer

Photo: Japanese customers in Tokyo, in the 1870s

Click the link below to see the amazing photos, hat tip to Kjeld Duits for his work

🌸 When in Ginza, Tokyo try Ippudo Noodles $$ - $$$

Review in English with map

Store Address and Hours in English

Menu in English

#japanesecustomer #ippudo #ramen #ginza 

#oldphotosjapan #japan #tokyo #1870

June 02, 2022

Flashback: 🌸 Japanese Customer News February 6th, 2015

Flashback: 🌸 Japanese Customer News February 6th, 2015

What events impacted Japanese customers seven years ago this week?


1. Corporate structure's role in productivity

2. Sony integrates music streaming with Spotify

3. Uniqlo credit card etiquette impacts customer service

4. Trade figures showing growth

5. Economic PPP forecasts

#news #japanesecustomer #video #podcastseries #events

April 14, 2022

Picture: 🌸Japanese worker directing traffic


directing traffic in japan #japanesecustomer

#picture #japanesecustomer #lifestyle #work 

April 12, 2022

Films: Best new Japanese 🌸 Movies in 2022 & 2021 (Netflix, Prime, Hulu & Cinema List)


new japanese movies #japanesecustomer


New Japanese movies in 2022 in Cinema & on VOD


#netflix #japanesecustomer #movies #hulu #prime #cinema 

July 06, 2020

Book Review: Tokyo Island by Natsuo Kirino

Natsuo Kirino’s short story is based on a small unnamed island in the Pacific ocean. Kiyoko a forty-six year old woman is preparing for her wedding to her fourth husband today. An island ritual takes place every two years and the men on the island enter a lottery that is made up of seashells. As the only woman on the island she prepares for the day and imagines her new future.

’But Kiyoko was the star, no matter where she went. People on the island studied her every move, doing their best to stay in her good graces and win her attention’’

December 01, 2015

Japanese Customer 2015 the year in review Monday December 7th

japan, japanese, consumer, customer, review, overview, summary, analysis, year, 2015, year in review, consumer behaviour, trends, news, insights, stories, business, finance, lifestyle, marketing, www.japanesecustomer.com. @jcustomers, #japan, #japanese, #customer

May 22, 2015

News: Friday 22rd May 2015

Japanese train station sign copyright peter hanami 2010

Picture: Japanese train station sign 

News: Friday 22rd May 2015

1. Pets

"the percentage of Japanese dog owners with small dogs has grown from just 26 percent in 1995 to 63 percent in 2014 — and 40 percent of them complain of pets that refuse to eat."

Japan Times


2. What is the Best selling 

Japanese literature at Amazon?

Check out the titles here


3. Manufacturing picked up in Japan in May

"Japanese manufacturing activity rebounded modestly in May as output and new orders picked up, suggesting a much-needed improvement in demand at home and abroad."



4. McDonald's Japan changes menu

" it was adding a new chicken patty containing vegetables, as well as a salad and a low-calorie onion dressing."


5. Japanese Kirin is expanding in Australia

"Lion is the third biggest dairy processor in the fragmented Australian market."



#japan #japanesecustomers #asia #news #asiancentury #marketing #business 

#customer @jcustomers

April 30, 2015

Article: Naked insights: Business lessons from Japan

I recently wrote this article

Naked insights: Business lessons from a Japanese bath house

In the article I explain the business insights one can gain from visiting a Japanese business.

Have you been to a Japanese bath house?

What insights did you gain?

Source: ANZ Blue Notes:
April 2015

#jcustomers #japan #smallbusiness #asia @jcustomers @ANZ_BlueNotes

April 16, 2014

Exclusive: Japanese fashion brand Uniqlo opens first Australian store in Melbourne today opened by the founder Tadashi Yanai, Japan's richest man

Video: The opening of Uniqlo's first Australian store in Melbourne, Wednesday 16th April 2014

Source: Japanesecustomer.com YouTube Channel

At 7am this morning in Melbourne, Australia security guards lined Lonsdale street in front of Australia's newest and largest fashion retail space the Emporium Building and questioned morning pedestrians on their way to work as they passed the new shopping centre to be officially opened today with Australia's first Uniqlo store. Dogged with industrial action during its long construction and delayed start date, today it finally opened! 

The air was still cool, the moon still in the sky and the sun slow to rise in the CBD. A buzz was in the air as many people on the street knew about the store and stopped to take photos as they walked past. Staff manning a pop-up coffee stall bounced around to keep warm as they set up, many staff lined the street in front of the store getting ready for the official launch at 9.50am for the official tape cutting by the founder Tadashi Yanai, Japan's richest man with an estimated wealth of AUS $18.2billion.

The crowd slowly built up during the early morning and by the time the tape cut came at 9.50am , Lonsdale street was full of customers lining up waiting to enter the store at 10am. 

Japanese customer service is based on many principles such as omotenashi (hospitality) and kikubari (anticipating customer needs). 

This was in full swing even before customers entered the store with, polite staff keeping those who waited in line, warm with drinks such as freshly brewed coffee. Japanese customer service is the benchmark of Asia, amazing to watch but impossible to replicate or match so far by western companies.

Inside the four storey store, many colourful displays for men, women and children were on display. The store was overstaffed with customer service staff just as in a typical Japanese store, a very good sign for Melbourne shoppers.

Uniqlo is renowned for high quality with low prices and ongoing new products and promotions. Customers are typically spoilt once inside the store. You enter the changing rooms and can get alterations done on the spot if you decide to buy pants in most cases. If a store does not stock an item advertised they will track the item down for you at another store and notify you when it is in stock.

In my experience with Uniqlo in Japan over the past ten years their customer service is world class.

For example

I once bought a business shirt in Tokyo and on returning home found a button hole was not properly sewn. I called the store, spoke to staff and within 2 hours a member of staff, had personally come out to my house and brought a replacement shirt. Yes, WOW! So if this is any indication of what to expect, you will be pleasantly surprised by their customer service.

Picture: Uniqlo logo

Check out some of the products to look for when you visit

Our range of Uniqlo product review videos


 Uniqlo Product Review 

Mens 240 gram down jacket ユニクロ


Product Review Uniqlo Fleece 

Press today announcing today's launch

"Ranked the world's 35th richest person and Japan's richest man at $18.2 billion, Mr (Tadashi) Yanai has ambitious plans for his low-cost casual wear store, a household name in Asia, to revolutionise the Australian fashion market" page 1

"He admits that labour costs and rent in Australia are high and would make it difficult for the company to keep their trademark low prices. "Labour costs and import duty is very high" page 1

"A pop-up Uniqlo store has been operating in Melbourne since January meters away from the Lonsdale street, 2180 square metre, four storey shop" page 8

" Uniqlo is a wholly owned subsidiary of listed Japanese company Fast Retailing and has more than 1200 stores in 14 countries" page 8

Source: Japanese giant Uniqlo uses Australia roadmap
By Patrick Durkin and Lucille Keen
Australian Financial Review
Wed 16th April, 2014

"High profile Japanese retailer Uniqlo is set to open its first Sydney store, taking space at Lend Lease's Mid City Complex at the premier retail strip Pitt Street Mall"

Source: Uniqlo signs for Sydney space
By Mercedes Ruehl
Australian Financial Review
Wed 16th April, 2014, page 37

"You have 20 million population in this marketplace, and we aim for one store per 200,000 people, so 100 stores will be just enough to cover it" Tadashi Yanai "I'm hopeful that 50 more stores could be built in three years, so if that is doable, I'd be very happy" p19

"Uniqlo is also set to launch a new website today specifically for Australian customers who previously were unable to buy Uniqlo's products from the chains international operations" p19

The Australian Newspaper
Wed 16th April, 2014

Video: Mark Hawthorne from the AGE newspaper interviews Tadashi Yanai 

#exclusive #uniqlo #breakingnews #melbourne #australia #opening #video #launch #japan

September 24, 2013

Japanese customers love ham, 30 percent of all ham is consumed at breakfast

"Japanese love ham and eat it more often and on more occasions than Americans. About 30% of all Japanese ham is consumed at breakfast. Japanese love ham on toast. "

Bringing HoneyBaked Ham to Japan
By Chris Betros
SEP. 16, 2013 
Japan Today

August 28, 2013

Japanese customers like cow tongues as USA meat exports to Japan increase

Picture: Inside a Japanese customers freezer

"cow tongues are popular in Japan, Cevin Jones, vice chairman of the Federation of State Beef Councils...said."A tongue here in the United States is worth 15 cents a pound," he said. "It's worth $15 a pound over there. Right there is a big boost in the value of that animal.""

Northwest beef industry targets Japanese consumers
By Matthew Weaver
Capital Press
Friday August 23rd 2013

August 11, 2013

Powerful book by Japanese schoolboy Naoki Higashida explores autism from the patients perspective

"Because he is severely autistic, Naoki cannot speak or write. When he was 13, he was ''locked in'', lonely and frustrated. But then his teacher gave him an alphabet grid that allowed Naoki a voice. He then proceeded to reach out to those around him, structuring a book cast in the form of questions and answers. "

Source: The Reason I Jump
August 10, 2013
Reviewed by Dianne Dempsey

July 29, 2013

Ayame Gouriki is most popular model on Japanese television for the first half of 2013 with 173,000 seconds of air-time

“Talent” Ayame Goriki, 20, has dethroned Aya Ueto as the TV commercial queen for the first half of 2013.According to Video Research Co, Goriki had the most air time—her commercials were aired 10,793 times for a total exposure of 173,005 seconds. Last year’s No. 1 Ueto was second with 8,210 commercials aired for 134,790 seconds."

Source: Ayame Goriki is TV commercial queen for first half of 2013
July 29th 2013
Japan Today

A selection of TV commercials with Ayame Gouriki 
(Note commercials in Japanese)


Video: [HD] CF Mister Donut Yakido baked donuts by Ayame Gouriki
Source: TheFREAK4456·
You Tube Channel


2種 剛力彩芽 CM ヤマザキ ランチパック ♪絢香
You Tube Channel