Business Culture in Japan

Japanese culture is a very polite culture and manners are very important. For example you never show the bottom of your shoes to the host or sit too relaxed. Dress code is important too. Usually you should wear clean and tidy clothes, dark suit is always a good option. (Moilanen, 2010, 19.)

Traditionally employer and employee have had a very close relationship. Managers have made the decisions but workers have been very loyal to company they work in. Somehow the line between the worker and manager was unclear and employee was maybe too loyal to employer but now the situation has changed and the line between employer and employee has become more clear little by little. (Moilanen 2010, 25.) It was usual that Japanese did extremely long work hours before but it has changed. Nowadays working hours are quite similar to western working hours and especially young people are enjoying the free time they have. Women are now transferring themselves to business world. Before it was usual that men were working and women were at home taking care of the children and home. (Moilanen 2010, 20-21.)

In Japan it is ordinary thing to receive and give business gifts. Usually a foreigner gets a gift at the first meeting and if you get a gift from Japanese person you have to make sure to give something back during your visit. But make sure your gift is not more expensive that the gift you’ve received: it might be insulting to Japanese. Good gifts are for example different Finnish products, such as handmade art craft, chocolate, music album… However, there are some forbidden products: products you can cut something (scissors, knives…) might tell to Japanese that you want cut loose your relationship. Cheap marketing products re forbidden as well. And always make sure you don’t give same thing twice to same person, it is tactless in Japan. Whisky is an exception to this rule. (Sunglobe, 2016.)

It is also usual to give a business card to everyone you meet. When you give your business card, remember to hold it with both of your hands and give it to Japanese person. And when you receive a business card, remember to thank for it and deal with it with respect. (Moilanen 2010, 19-20.)

Japanese want to use their own language in business meetings and it is usual that there is an interpreter at the meeting. They are not sure about their English skills that they want the interpreter to be present so there will be no misunderstandings. (Moilanen, 2010, 15.)


Sunglobe. Tietoa liikelahjoista. Lahjakulttuuri eri maissa. Referenced 16.3.2016.

Moilanen, Teemu 2010. Japanin liiketoimintakulttuurin todellisuus ja uskomukset. Opinnäytetyö. Jyväskylän ammattikorkeakoulu. Referenced 16.3.2016.


My dream job

I don’t actually have a dream job right now. I’ve started working in new place few months ago and I enjoy it a lot. I’m not sure I’m going to do it for the rest of my life but right now I’m extremely satisfied with my job.
I think that only good job is not enough for me. Also the environment has to be inspiriting and you would have to get along with your co-workers. If you get support and help from your colleagues even the hard tasks feel lighter.
If I have one dream about my future it is that I want work with people. I’m a sort of person who doesn’t fit to sit on computer all day alone in office, I need human contacts; no matter if it’s on the phone or face-to-face contact. I’ve done a lot in customer relations and I’ve notice I enjoy it and that I’m actually good at it. So maybe my dream job is to work in customer relations as I’m doing right now.

How can you make yourself sound polite on the phone?

Rule number one in customer service on the phone: smile. Customer can hear you smiling or if you are not smiling. Also you must remember to use polite little words such as “please” and “thank you”. Those are extremely important. You have to remember to use polite phrases, for example “Could you tell me your name, please?” instead of saying “What´s your name?” “Could you…”, “May I…” are fast way to sound polite when other person can’t see you.

Hand gestures

1. Crossing your index finger and middle finger
This gesture if quite fun. Between sign language interpreters this is a reminder to yourself, you have something to say and you cross our fingers so you wouldn’t forget it. To someone else this is gesture indicates to “lady parts”. So it can cause some weird or awkward situations if you don’t know why Finnish sign language interpreters sit their fingers crossed.
2. Thumb up
We are used to think that “thumbs up” is a positive sign, we hope someone to get what he wants. We also use thumb when we wish something. Or when someone has succeeded in his task. Between divers this thumb up means that diver needs to go up, to surface. It is used normal situations but also if something is wrong and you have to get up right now.
3. “The five fathers”
When I found this one I started to laugh out loud. People always ask me if sign language is international. And when I say “no” they always wonder why not. Well, this is a good example of that. In different countries we have different cultures and signs and gestures are linked to than culture. This gesture is also a sign in Finnish sign language and it mean “berry”. But in some countries this mean that you mother is a whore. So no. Sign language is not international and there is a good reason for it.

Learning for life

I think I’m at the B2 level in my English skills. I have to use English every day at work so I have to use and understand different kinds of English users. The problem is that even though I use English a lot, I also use Finnish with my colleagues all the time. So sometimes it is hard to understand because we use “finglish”. Or we understand each other very well but an outsider wouldn’t understand a thing.
Different dialect can be hard to understand. For example dialect from India or China can be extremely difficult to understand. But good side is, the more you listen to them the more you start to understand. So hopefully I’ll start to understand them in a few years. The most important thing is just to use the language. If you don’t use it, you won’t learn it. After I get my English skills to level I’m happy with, I’ll start to work my Swedish skills. One language at the time is my motto.