Cross-Cultural Encounters Within a Multi-National Company:
Establishing a Middle Ground between Japanese and Americans in Southern Appalachia

Rationale: Soon after a merger or acquisition occurs between two different cultures and language backgrounds, efforts can be made to prevent misunderstandings and build the mutual respect and trust necessary to stay focused on common corporate goals. This series of workshops is for American executives forging new communications with their Japanese counterparts in a small factory in the southern Appalachians in northern Georgia. A better understanding of modern Japanese culture and language can create a hospitable middle ground where mutual trust and respect should exist.

"Our home is your home"

  Even within a multi-national, Japanese corporation, speakers of non-Japanese languages and other cultural backgrounds need to consider themselves part of an insider, trusted (uchi) status in contrast to an outside, (soto), guarded status. To nurture the spirit of uchi, Japanese visitors can be made to feel more "at home" in a hospitable workplace. The following lessons in this unit aim to build the sincere and open relations to be expected under the same corporate roof, or uchi. While "good country sense" regarding hospitality is the golden rule, there is a basic level of Japanese etiquette, including some key words and phrases which can help avert misunderstandings and show that you, at least, are making an effort to meet the other on some middle ground.

First Greetings -- a working relationship on which you both depend

1) Japanese visitors are escorted into a waiting/meeting room where they remain until their American counterparts arrive. The visitors have probably made at least a three hour drive from wherever they have come from in the region, or they arrived on a flight several hours before.

2) Handshake and "Nice to meet you" is certainly acceptable (the Japanese are visiting an America-based company after all), but a Japanese greeting can sometimes project more of a willingness to form a bridge from the start. In the event there is a Japanese female colleague, wait on a handshake until handshake. If the Japanese does not follow with the English "Nice to meet you," then definitely use "Hajimemashite."A short bow and "HAJIMEMASHITE" is the beginning of a first meeting.

3) Exchanging business cards is optional, but useful for helping each other remember your names. With both hands, hand over a business card turned facing the visitor so that he/she can just about read it while receiving it. While giving the business card, the participants should say their name slowly and clearly, followed by the business position title if appropriate. I am ____ , or My name is _____. If you want to try Japanese, the equivalent is WATASHI NO NAMAE WA _______ DESU (My name is ___) or if even more simply, WATASHI WA ______ DESU (I am ____). English is fine for introducing yourself, but remember to pronounce your words slowly and clearly, and even better if you do so while you are handing over your business card. Easy language learning hint: the word desu, or "is" can be turned into a question by adding a KA at the end; and then you can begin to ask simple questions.

4) Practice the Japanese phonetic pronunciation sound chart and learn to pronounce your name using a Japanese pronunciation. Usually, pronouncing your name in using an American-English pronunciation is enough, but it never hurts to consider the other person's hearing challenges and the Japanese have challenges hearing English since sounds like "l," "th," and "v" are simply not in the Japanese phonetic range and hence are not heard normally. Here are all of the sounds in the Japanese language. After practicing the sounds once or twice, try writing/spelling your name using only the Japanese phonetic sound-symbols. That is how your name will be represented in the memory of Japanese visitors who meet you; and, therefore, how you will need to be able to present yourself in Japan among strangers. You could even write the Japanese KATAKANA characters for your name above your name in preparation of your meeting. Learning these simple phonetic characters for your name will give you added confidence for any meeting in America or Japan.



Combining Katakana and Hiragana for Complex Sounds 
While Katakana (right side of chart) is the alphabet for words of foreign origin, 
Hiragana (left side of chart) is for native Japanese words. Both cover the same sounds in the language


Refer to the chart above and try to identify the Japanese sounds associated with the name, Joseph Adams, pronounced jiyo-se-fuジョセフ)-- a-da-mu-suアダムス). At first, this phonetic system may seem awkward and inconvenient, but once learned, it should become more convenient, because the symbols for these sounds never change, unlike English which has numerous spellings for the same sound. If you would like to try learning to read and write simple, useful katakana further, try the first lesson to the Yale Language series classic text, by Eleanor Jordan, Reading Japanese here. (If you wish to pursue reading and writing Japanese further, purchase a used version for less than five dollars on amazon here.)

5) A note on Mr., Ms., and Mrs. in Japanese context: Because Japanese names are written with the family name first, there is sometimes a little confusion on whether to call the American by the first or last name and what suffix should be attached to which name. For example, Joseph Adams might be called Mr. Joseph occasionally, rather than Mr. Adams. Simply calling a person by his or her first name without a suffix is not common in Japan. Consequently, some Japanese may feel that they must use the honorific suffix, SAN. For example, many Japanese would be more comfortable saying Joseph-san rather than simply Joseph. Similarly, Japanese can be a bit uncomfortable being called by their first name without a suffix. It is probably best to either use the English honorific (Mr. Tanaka), of the Japanese honorific, Tanaka-san. The suffix "-CHAN" is used between old friends and "KUN" is used by a superior when referring to a junior. These suffixes represent the complex, obligatory relationship between juniors and seniors in Japanese society and the workplace, which we will explore further in our studies.

6) Finally, both participants will take turns saying to the other that "my work depends on your help" DOUZO YOROSHIKU ONEGAISHIMASU. YOROSHIKU is the key word here, but in a formal setting, especially a first meeting, DOUZO (trans.,"by all means") and ONEGAISHIMASU (trans."I humbly request") are added for the warmest effect. Douzo can be used in a number of other situations when you want to tell someone to "go ahead" and enter the room, or start eating or drinking when it appears they are unnecessarily reserved. Onegaishimasu, as well, is used in a number of situations when humbly answering someone who wishes to do something for you. For example "can I begin the meeting?" or "can I bring you a drink?" to which the recipient can respond onegaishimasu. If someone asks you if you would like something to drink or eat, etc., you can respond affirmatively, Onegaishimasu (the less formal, "KUDASAI" could also be used.

vocabulary review: Hajimemashite, watashi wa, watashi no, uchi, soto, desu, desuka, douzo, yoroshiku, onegaishimasu, kudasai, namae, katakana


The Weather
part 1:
"When there's nothing else to talk about, there's always the weather!"

1) Today, it's hot isn't it! KYOU WA, ATSUI DESU NE! (warm ATATAKAI, cool SUZUSHII, cold SAMUI, rain AME, snow YUKI, cloudy KUMORI, sunny HARE)
   Sure is! SOU DESU NE!

2) Today, the wind is strong isn't it? KYOU WA, KAZE GA TSUYOUI DESU NE! (the particle ga is used after a secondary subject in a sentence -- the main topic is today)
   Yes, it's true, the wind is strong! HAI, HONTOU NI, KAZE GA TSUYOUI DESU NE! (very TOTEMO)

vocabulary review: kyou, atsui, atatakai, suzushii, samui, ame, yuki, kumori, hare, kaze, kaze ga, tsuyoi, totemo


A Formal Meeting (Conference)
: "Don't go away hungry!"

1) The meeting begins. KORE KARA, MITINGU WO HAJIMEMASU. ("Kore kara" means literally, "from this point." The particle wo makes the meeting the object of the verb, to start) If you wish to ask someone if its all right to begin the meeting, you can simply add a KA at the end of Hajimemasu(ka) to turn it into a question. The person you are asking, if he understands Japanese could say, Hai (Yes) Douzo, or Onegaishimasu.

2) The meeting will be until 10 o'clock. MITINGU WA, JYUU-JI MADE DESU. (one o'clock ichi-ji, two o'clock ni-ji, three o'clock san-ji, four o'clock yo-ji (shi is another way of saying four), five o'clock go-ji, six o'clock roku-ji, seven o'clock sichi-ji, eight o'clock hachi-ji, nine o'clock ku-ji, ten o'clock juu-ji, eleven o'clock juu-ichi-ji, twelve o'clock juu-ni-ji. one-thirty ichi-ji han)

3) Refreshments (usually hot green tea in Japan) are usually served after the formal greetings and exchange of business cards (if very first meeting) occurs and all participants, including Americans are seated around the table and before the meeting begins. To show appreciation to the person or people who prepare/serve the refreshments, the versitle word, SUMIMASEN can be used when being served to imply that you wish you could have helped prepare and serve too.If you are one of the upper managers who would probably not have prepared refreshments for anyone anyway, a simple thank you, or Arigato Gozaimasu is more appropriate.

4) The act of starting a meal, or even refreshments during a meeting, together; and, after the signal of one of the leaders of the group, is quintessential to the Uchi etiquette. Ideally, someone not directly related to the meeting participants, like a secretary serves the tea at an appropriate time, usually just before the meeting. Before drinking or eating, it is polite to say, ITADAKIMASU. Everyone says this together before a meal too and it becomes a form of giving thanks, even with hands together. Never start drinking or eating until everyone is seated and gives thanks either directly by saying, itadakimasu, or indirectly through eye contact.

4) Finishing the meeting. KORE DE, MIITINGU WO OWARIMASU. (compare Hajimemasu with Owarimasu) *A note on Kore de: compared to Kore kara, which means from this point, Kore de changes the meaning to "by this point, or "at this point" If you were going somewhere by bus, you would use the same particle de added to bus (BASU DE). You probably noticed by now that the verb is at the end of the sentence in Japanese. Grammatically, Japanese is more like the German language than Chinese, because the verb comes at the end of a sentence.

5) Saying thank you very much to everyone (for their attention) to end the meeting is always appropriate: MINASAN, DOMOU ARIGATOU GOZAIMASHITA.

vocabulary review: kore, kara, made, miitingu, ichi-ji, ni, san, yo/shi, go, roku, sichi/nana, hachi, ku, juu, juu-ichi, juu-ni, ichi-ji han, hajimemasu, hajimemasuka, miitingu wo, sumimasen, itadakimasu,kore de, owarimasu, owarimasuka, arigatou gozaimashita, basu, basu de, minasan domou arigatou gozaimashita


Cultural Benchmarks Through the Seasons
Spring: February-March-April

  Japan seasons are distinct and comparable to the East Coast in North America with its high humidity and ample rainfall, but of all the seasons, Spring feels the most different for reasons that have nothing to do with the weather. In Japan, the school year corresponds so closely with the corporate fiscal year, ending in April, that they actually end the school year in late March, take a two week break, and start the new year during the first week of April. Graduations and commencements take on the feverish, festive tone of the season and the new class formations (coresponding with company promotions and new employees entries) parallel the new growth of spring nicely. Campaigns for improvements and sports club practices kick into full swing in anticipation of the mid-Summer county, state, and national tounaments and a well deserved six-week summer vacation from late July through September 1st. If you want to see one of the world's most passionate and energetic baseball tournaments in the world, see the televised Japan's National High School Baseball Series in mid-July.
 Traditionally, spring begins the Chinese New Year with the first signs of spring in February, most noteably, the Plum blossom. The February bloom of the plumb blossom was the favorite blossom for most of Japanese History, at least until the age of the Samurai, and it remains the third of the the three decorative symbols of prosperity in the new year: Pine matsu, Bamboo take, and Plumb blossoms ume. Pickled plumbs are even a part of the Japanese daily diet as the sweetly sour prize in the center of a festive plate or ball of rice. The red color of the pickled plumb in the center of the white rice are the patriotic colors of the Japanese flag, the rising sun.
 Between the time the plum blossoms bloom in late February and the end of the school year in late March, is a month of finishing studies of the school year, reviewing the work of the year, what went well and what didn't, making proposals for the new year and holding elections for leadership positions for the new year beginning in Spring. We'll explore the details of this school, thereby company, review/planning process throughout the school year in the section "Learning to Work."

  A common ritual for all ages in early February called Setsubun highlights the Spring spirit of self-reflection. The ritual also shows some of the differences between uchi (inside the home or company, among trusted insiders) and soto (outside the home, or company where pretense is necessary). In the Setsubun ritual, an adult, or an older child, puts on a hand-made devil/ogre mask often made by elementary school children and pretends to try to get into the uchi (house, or classroom) while the people inside throw roasted soybeans at him yelling, "Oni wa soto, Fuku wa uchi" ("Out with the devil, In with the good!) Kids write the bad habits, or weaknesses, they are trying to get rid of behind the masks the make for the ritual. In the photo below, sixth graders are visiting a first grade class to show them the masks they made on February 2, 2009. On the blackboard, the teacher writes the kids' onis,or "devils" on the board ("sleeping too late," "lack of motivation," "sickness"). Throwing the beans at the "devils" symbolizes reflecting on one's weaknesses in order to improve oneself. Developing one's sense of conscience for self-improvement, especially work improvement, is a major objective throughout the school year and, eventually the workplace.

sixth graders visit a first grade class to show off the masks they made for Setsubun

Lessons in social etiquette are reinforced in elementary school reading and moral education, Doutoku, textbooks as well as school events. For example, here's a story in a reading textbook for first graders that explores the bean-throwing ritual from the perspective of a first grade boy.

Day of the Bean Throwing
by Kanzaki Motoyasu (a boy, 7 years old

Because we have a school assembly this morning, we put on our p.e. cloths and went out on the playground. When I was jumping rope, I heard the morning chime ring.
  The school assembly began. At first each student received five roasted soy beans from the teacher. The beans smelled so good!
  Next, the principal told us a story about the bean throwing.
  When the drum sounded, "Don Don," a bunch of masked devils came out. Everyone yelled "Oni wa soto, Fuku wa Uchi!" (Out with the devils, and In with the Good") and threw their beans at the devils.mamemaki
  I threw my beans at the "devil of sickness." The devil put his head down and ran away, the devil of laziness and the "devil of forgetfulness" and others came out and everyone chased the devils and threw beans at them with all their might. The devils were 5th and 6th graders.   
   I asked my friend, Takeshi, "Are there really devils somewhere?" He said that there the devils were really in our hearts. I could understand that.
 When all the devils went away the morning assembly was done.
We threw beans at home that night. My big brother and I yelled again while we threw beans. After that, I found there were lots of beans under my desk.


Parting greetings, meeting someone again, and sharing a meal

1) Goodbye and stay healthy!: SAYONARA, O-GENKI DE! (Genki means "feeling well" and you can greet someone you already know by saying

2) Are you feeling well? O Genki desuka?"
    I'm feeling well! "Hai, Genki desu!" Or, if you're not feeling well and want to convey that feeling, you could respond Maa, chyotto kaze hitteru.

3) How about some tea? Ocha ikaga desuka? Yes Please Hai, onegaishimasu. (When you receive it, remember to say Itadakimasu before you begin eating or drinking -- preferably together)

4) Is it good? Oishii desuka? It's delicious! Oishii desu!  

5) How about lunch? Chuushyoku ikaga desuka? How about supper? Yuushyoku ikaga desuka?

6) Do you like ___? ____ suki desuka? (try inserting the following words with Japanese pronunciation: miruku, jusu, bi-ru, ko-hi-, wain, sake, mizu, Atoranta, Daronega)

7) Gochisousamadeshita (that was good!)

vocabulary review: Sayounara, o-genki de, desuka, hai, iie, ocha, ikaga, Oishii, suki, suki desuka, onegaishimasu, itadakimasu, chuushyoku, yuushyoku, gochisousamadeshita, wain, miruku, biiru, ko-hi, Atoranta, Daronega


Japanese Management Education: Learning to Work at School

a third grader presents her reflection on the last semester to the weekly assembly  A farming neighbor of mine in Lumpkin County, Georgia, near the start of the Appalachian trail, credited his father with having gone out of his way to teach him what he couldn't learn at school -- how to work. He said, "Son, I may not be able to teach you anything like school does, but I'm going to teach you how to work if it's the last thing I do." Because America was a largely rural country with plenty of frontier in the late 19th century, schooling focused mainly on training in the three Rs (reading, writing, and arithmetic) and a classical education for those who studied more than a few years. Japan's public education developed more for the samurai and business class of citizens in Buddhist temple schools until pressures from the outside world and industrialization created a national imperative to create a common system throughout the country. With the threat of invasions from Western countries as occurred in China, Japan could not afford to experiment with Federalist, or state-controlled schools. A strong nationally-funded (at least half of all teachers's salaries) public education system has been the rule for over 150 years in Japan. Despite the National control, however, traditional temple school practices like school maintenance chores and obligatory relations between junior and senior students has provided social training that extends all the way to management in the workplace. It is no coincidence that business management did not develop into a branch of study in higher education. With national funding enabling even the poorer states to offer the same teacher salaries and programs as the richest ones, during tough world-economic times, even "extra-curricular" subjects like music, art, home economics, morality, and work management education-related activities remain fully funded. Indeed, these subjects, taught from the first through the twelfth grades are as important as the "three Rs" in the context of preparing a dependable work-force. We will look at how student learn to manage horizontally (among their own class-grade level) and vertically, among their senior and junior classmates to conduct the daily reviews and improvement procedures for regular subjects, daily work chores, and the production of assemblies and a major event each year. Our analysis should provide the American manager of a multi-national/cultural company with a better understanding of the context of the managerial expectations of Japanese employees and managers. It should become obvious why professional college-trained managers are not often a feature in Japanese corporations.

Learning junior-senior obligations on the morning walk to school

toukouhan  With the only expense for school districts being the school building and facilities for school lunches there is no need to consolidate school districts to save money. In fact, elementary schools are preferred to be within walking distance and middle schools (grades 7 through 9) are within walking or bicycling distance. The close proximity of the schools creates an education opportunity for teaching student responsibilities and obligations between senior and junior students. Let's follow a typical sixth grader, named Takeshi for a full school day in April to illustrate the work management experiences that he will have that will indeed have relevance for his future work experience. Takeshi is the leader of his neighborhood walk-to-school group and he must therefore navigate at least one busy street crossing. Walking in a single file line, the first graders, follow directly behind Takeshi while the older students follow in-line behind the younger ones until the last one who might be another sixth grader or fifth grader. At the beginning of the year, Takeshi was chosen by his two peers in the neighborhood to be the leader, or han-cho. They said that they nominated him because he was the fairest and most responsible student in the neighborhood. To enable the safety (anzen) of such an important daily walk to school and avoid dangers (kiken), each year, students receive safety education training for walking and bicycling in the neighborhood and town streets by the local police. At the beginning the first and second semesters (April and September), teachers and parents are on duty at dangerous intersections to insure the kids' safe passage. Takeshi remembers when he was a first grader and was looked after kindly by Hiroshi, a sixth grader in his neighborhood. Hiroshi is now a senior in high school. The return trip home is complicated by the different schedules older and younger students have after school, so the younger students generally return in groups of younger aged students. There are many other lessons learned between juniors and seniors throughout the school day, however, and we shall explore those in the following section on learning to manage a working day.

new vocabulary: kouhai, senpai, han-cho, anzen, kiken


Scenario V.
Exploring the Community: from schools to workplaces

1) What is this? Kore wa nan desuka?
     This is a __________. Kore wa ______ desu. (company kaishya, school gakkou)

2) Is this your ____? Kore wa anata no ______ desuka? elementary school syougakkou, middle school chuugakkou, high school kouko, college daigaku.
    Yes, this is our ______. Hai, kore wa watashitachi no __ ____________ desu.
    This is my ______. Kore wa watashi no __ _____ desu. (syougakkou, chuugakkou, kouko, daigaku, kaishya, factory koujyou, kappu, eye glasses megane, conpyuuta)

3) What do you do at the company/factory? Anata wa, koujyou de, nani wo shimasuka?
    Watashi wa, koujyou no __________ desu. Watashitachi wa ___________ wo tsukrimasu. (bearingu, dezain)

4) Is it safe? Anzen desuka? Yes, its safe. Hai, anzen desu.
    Is it very hazardous? Totemo kikken desuka? No, it's a little hazardous. Iie, sukoshi kikken desu.

vocabulary review: nan, nani, watashitachi, anata, kaishya, koujyou, gakkou, gakusei, syougakkou, chuugakkou, kouko, daigaku, anzen, kikken, tsukurimasu, bearingu, dezain,


Learning to Manage a Day's Work and Studies

zenkoushuukaiplay1st6th  Takeshi arrives at school with his band of four or five neighborhood kids no later than 8:15AM, for a 15 minute morning activity before the morning homeroom meeting. They might do running in the morning, read books in the fall, or practice singing, jump rope in the spring, do radio exercise practice in the fall, or do mixed play younger students; but on Monday morning there is the weekly morning meeting when the principal gives a short speech, introduce a new students or give awards to students who won a recent sports, drawing, calligraphy, book review contest. Because it's April the principal gives a speech on two types of homerooms -- one that is fun and useful and one that is not fun and inefficient. He compares the experiences of two students in each of the homerooms and asks the students which type of homeroom is there's more like and then helps us come up with ideas to make our homeroom and our school a better place. The main things he tells the students to remember is to eliminate bullying, show respect and appreciation for their teacher; as well as say thank you to students who do nice things for the class like bringing flowers; and finally, to keep the homeroom cleaning tools organized and do one's job well so people won't have to do it for you. (Japanese-style management connection: jikouteikanketsu)


(from a pamphlet on key management terms given to managers
at Koyo Timkin, in Dahlonega, GA.


asanokaiwho does what

  The structure of an average day at school allows ample opportunities for a leaning a review process for performance and planning for continuous improvement, or Kaizen, another key Japanese management concept. The school day begins with a time from reflection and planning during the students' homeroom meeting, led by the student managers for the day. A different pair, a boy and a girl, are rotated every day. (see image at the left); and then at the end of the day when the students have their final homeroom meeting for reflection before going home to review the class subject homework, things to bring from home the next day, etc.   The image on the right is a Cleaning Group Responsibility Rotation chart to manage the work group responsibilities for the 15 minute cleaning period usually after lunch each day. The duties rotate weekly. The leadership usually changes every semester. At the end of each cleaning period, the leader checks with the group for any problems, etc. . The following detailed schedule for a single day, should illustrate the work and study management process in more detail, including an estimation of the amount of time spent leaning management-related skills for an average elementary school student:

7:45-8:15AM Walking to school------ (described above) Takeshi leads his neighbor small group to school. He has to tell the teacher that because one student will not follow the leader and it could become dangerous. All of the related teachers will remind students of the importance of following the senior students to be safe. (15 minutes walking total on average daily management value for junior-senior relations and safety)
8:15-8:30 Pre-class morning assembly/activities for whole school (full school assemblies usually held on Monday) or other activities on other days. Sometimes each class has their own activities, sometimes, depending on the season, there may be an outdoor exercise time for running, jump-rope (5 minutes daily management value for vertical relations from principal through junior-senior relations)
8:35-8:45 Homeroom meetings (asa no kai): students have their morning meeting while the teachers have their meeting simultaneously in the faculty planning room)---- The homeroom leaders for the day (a different boy and girl each day) calls the class to rise, greet each other,sing a song (related to the seasons, chosen by the kids in the song group, one of the work groups) and sit down. Each group reports if they have a absent friend. Confirming a daily goal. A daily goal is usually the same as, or related to, the monthly goal set by the student council. April's goal is Greetings or Playing well together. The teacher may give the day's plan and a short speech on a Monday, in this case, about the April first grade lunch-serving help activity. The student leaders will continue their leadership duties throughout the day, including the final fifteen minute meeting at th end of the day. (10 minutes daily management value for horizontal work-grouping, review, planning, etc.)
First Period 8:50-9:35 Math(45min)----The work groups attempt some math problems together before the teacher introduces a new technique. Takeshi is the group leader. (2 minutes daily management value for starting and finishing the class; and more for group activities, but much of that is part of the teaching style)
Second Period 9:40-10:25 Japanese(45min)----They study how to summarize each paragraph in a story. Each group talks about the summary and present their summary.They turn the groups ideas into the best summary for the class. (2 minutes daily management value for starting and finishing the class; and more for group activities, but that is teaching style)
Recess (20min)------Besides having free time for recess, some student committees have activities or chores to do. Takeshi is on the library committee so during some recess times, he has to help check books out at library on Monday-.----------- He has a committee meeting once a month. See the full list of committees and their annual/monthly goals below. (6 minutes daily management value for committee chores once a week, and han-cho meetings across grade level once every two weeks)
Third Period 10:45-11:30 Moral Education (45min)---- The theme the moral education (doutoku) class is on the importance of manners even among friends and family. After they read bad example story and they present similar experiences and compare their feelings to the characters in the story.The groups summarize their opinions regarding the proper etiquette among people in close relationships (uchi). The teacher summarizes groups' opinions. (social relations, safety, taking care of school property are management relations and account for about half of the moral education themes) (5 minutes daily management education value)
Fourth Period 11:35-12:20 Social studies (45min) ---- They study ancient (10,000years ago) people's lifestyles. Each group presents their research and the class combines all of the group's research for a final summary. (2 minutes daily management value for student-centered start-up and finishing of class)


Lunch 12:20-1:05 (45 minutes) ---------------The sixth graders are often involved with the first graders work activities to model good work habits, and help them get used to what is required. Takeshi goes to 1st grade's classroom and help them serve lunch. It's a lot of fun working with the first graders. (20 minutes daily management value for serving and cleaning-up)
Break (10min)





getlunch    eating

wipedowncleaning1:15-1:30 Cleaning(15min)-----Takeshi cleans classroom hall with his work-group. End of the cleaning, they have a short meeting called a hansei-kai. A friend of the group didn't work well so other friends complained during the meeting and told him he had better work properly. (15 minutes daily management value)
Fifth period 1:35-2:20 Home Economics (45min) ---- 5th and 6th graders have their weekly Home Economics class. They study a good breakfast.They will practice how to cook rice and miso soup over the next two weeks. The groups talk about who is going to bring what materials.
Each group take note of their group goal,time schedule,member's work. (2 minutes daily management value for organizing cooking, sewing, laundry, money management)





singSixth period 2:25-3:10 Music (45min) ---- students have their weekly music class on for this period, but other extra-curricular activities are given to this period on other days, weekly class organizational meetings (gakkyuukai) including monthly committee meetings and club activities. They sing a spring song and study two-part harmony. They practice playing recorder and present it by the group. (while 9 minutes per week are allotted to music class each week, 2 minutes daily management value for focusing on a class production of a singing songs together; combined with the weekly class organizational meetings 9 minutes daily for one 45 minute weekly meeting is 11 minutes total daily management value)


3:15-3:25kaerinokaiAfternoon meeting (Kaeri-no-kai,classroom, 10 min)-------Takeshi checks homework and reflects a daily goal.  He admits that he didn't greet his fellow classmates and teachers very loudly today, so he thinks that he'll try to say them more loudly tomorrow. The meeting has the corner of finding good and bad the day.  He told them that Keiko brought some flowers for classroom and thank you for her. The teacher give the class a speech reflected day. Takeshi think about tomorrow.They sing a song and give their final greeting to classmates, goodbye (sayounara). Going home with friends. (15 minutes daily management value for reviewing the day past and setting sights on the next day).

Total Hours of daily education that are significant of management -- 1 hour 50 minutes!


pamphlet kaizen5s

  While almost every Japanese managment process buzz word included in the pamphlet on Japanese managment is taught in the public schools, the words in the 5S box in the pamphlet above on the right (Seiri: sort; Seiton: set; Seiso: Shine; Seiketsu: Standardize; Shitsuke: Sustain) are probably heard the most often in their dail process-review activities. Further understanding of Japanese attention to process-review management should come into further relief if we compare the Japanese school day with an American school day. Through a discussion with American Koyo managers taking this class, we came up with new possibilities in the workplace that build a Middle Ground of Japanese-inspired American management.


Comparing Management Training in Japan and northern Georgia:
Styles, Expectations, and Possibilities for the Workplace
(constructed during three 90 minute classes in March and April 2010)

School to Work in Japan School to Work in Southern Appalachia Japanese-American management possibilities
Before School: Walking to school provides training in personal responsibility and obligations between junior and senior students. Awareness of safety issues and the need to report incidents higher up the vertical ladder are a part of the daily routine. Before School: Bus/Parents/Students wait in lunchroom or gym until they are allowed to enter teacher's class. The school bus may have junior-senior relations, but bus driver sets rules and requires that the younger students sit up front where he can keep an eye on them. After arrival at school, students have free association and little responsibility to younger students. Schools are larger and less centered on local neighborhoods, but local churches potentially provide community-centeredness and junior-senior bonding through singing and worship on Wednesdays and Sundays. Generally speaking, the daily walk to school is not a shared experience for American students and developing junior-senior obligations occurs elsewhere. Nurturing relations between junior senior workers to create obligations, gratitude, and a give-and-take attitude can build trust and improve employee morale and productivity. Senior employees should look-out for newer employees' safety and well-being while the newer employees should appreciate their concern. Senior employees with more concern for junior employees on shop floor may be more likely to report up the line to management to initiate reforms for the mutual benefit of junior and senior employees. Senior employees who feel obligated to juniors may also be more willing to take pay cuts during tough economic times to save junior jobs on the shop floor. (pamphlet terms: YOKOTEN, MIERUKA)
Morning warm-up time or Monday assembly: On most days through the fall and winter there are planned physical activities to warm-up the students for those fifteen minutes. In the spring, jumprope; and the summer, book reading. On the Monday assembly, students are rewarded for winning an art or calligraphy contest by getting a blank notebook or a book-store certificate at the morning assembly.

There are usually no warm-up activities before class at the elementary schools in Lumpkin County. There is a school assembly every 9 weeks to award certificates to students who haven't missed a day, who have not had any behavior (attendance) problems.

A fifteen minute warm-up session at the workplace could benefit the workers' work attitude and improve start-up performance and consistency.
Occasional, even weekly, ceremonies to reward exceptional behavior, above and beyond what is expected normally is the general rule in the case of Japanese management. Simply not missing a day in a quarter, or work year, is usually not usually a reason for a reward in Japan, but it could work in America if there are chronic problems as occur in some schools. Contribution of a new idea or making something especially well is the only reason for a reward in the Japanese context.

Homeroom meeting (Asa-no-kai,classroom,10min)----A different boy and girl call the class to order, give the morning greeting, take notes in the homeroom journal, and lead the singing of a song (usually a seasonal song each month chosen, performed and taught by a group who wins an election from the class). Each group reports if they have a absent friend. The morning leaders remind the class of the daily goal (related to the monthly goal set by the student association), and what they may do to to make progress toward that goal (each group makes a proposal on different day and the class decides what will be done each week). April's goal is to say their Greetings to other students and teachers well. On Monday, after the teachers' meeting in the teachers' room. The teacher gives her version of the day's plan and a short speech about a planned activity in which several sixth graders assist the first graders serving lunch. The student leaders for the homeroom meeting continue to call the class to order for every subject and lead the homeroom meeting at the end of the day too.

School announcements (on room intercom speaker) include student birthday and special events announcements, and the pledge of allegiance. The students are in a homeroom, but it also serves as the teacher's office and the teacher does not have a separate teachers' meeting as in Japan. Students mainly listen to the teacher's directives and are rewarded for good behavior (no "red lights") and get to have a "Fun Friday" if they accumulate at least 15 points for "staying on green" (for good behavior) every day. Students can get up to 3 bonus points each week for not being absent, the teacher reaching her goal (for example being quiet during class or in the hall ways).

Morning/afternoon meetings with rotational leadership duties for each one in a section to review the day and keep a journal can develop some pride and leadership responsibility. Special work groups can be organized and the work can be proposed by the whole section and assigned to the groups depending on their proposals. Monthly themes/goals can be decided on and proposals for implementation can be carried-out. (pamphlet terms: YOKOTEN; KAIZEN)


Subject study--each subject begins with the designated homeroom leaders for the day. First and second periods follow the students' homeroom meeting, then there is a twenty minute recess. Third and fourth periods precede the lunch break and fifteen minute cleaning period.


Subject study classes follow comparable approaches to subject study utilizing group assignments; but there is no student-centered, bottom-up management calling the class to order and finish for each subject. In the American classroom, the teacher is the leader, period. Consequently, management is usually conceived of as a top-down operation in the American work environmnet. An approach to structuring some of the day's benchmark activities using a system of rotational leadership could further develop each member's sense of responsibility and leadership skills. Taking perspectives of other workers junior and senior is an important skill that requires opportunities for practice. Weekly activities that link employees vertically and horizontally could accomplish some role-taking value.
Recess(20min)------Free time, but some committee members have chores they must complete during recess. Takeshi is on the library committee so he help to check book out at library on Committee meetings occur once a month during which student members from 3rd through 6th grade meet to review and plan their activities according to the annual plan made in April. (More on the activities of the 12 committees in the next section) Students have a similar free time period, usually in the early afternoon to play outside or play a game in their classroom. Some students work on class-work or tests that they could not finish during the class. There isn't much difference between America and Japan in this area, except the committee chores that some committee members complete. Being responsible for maintenance chores regardless of the time during the day could reinforce workers' sense of responsibility and dedication. Mandatory membership on a number of committees, each assigning rotational resposibilities could increase overall involvement and responsibility for making improvements.
Lunch (45 min) -- Students in all grade levels serve their own lunch. Takeshi goes to 1st grade's classroom and help them serve lunch. American students go to the "lunch room" to be served by "lunch ladies" on disposable plates in a highly time efficient lunch period. Preparing and serving a meal among fellow employees can be a bonding experience.
Cleaning time (20min) Work group weekly rotational duties, occasional oversight by upper grades to accomplish hallway, entry, bathroom and classroom cleaning details with rags brought from home and sewn together in Home Economics class. Janitorial services, increasingly sub-contracted out to outside companies are increasingly the rule in American schools. Students do not participate in any cleaning activities. Common cleaning duties assigned rotationally to standard work groups can attach feeling of common ownership to company property, but special time must be designated for these activities.
5th, and 6th periods subject studies continue as 1st through 6th except 5th period which is for the weekly moral education, music, home economics, and art classes that continue once a week from the first grade through the twelfth grades. (music and art get two hours a week and P.E. gets two-and-a-half hourse per week.) While Art and Music education can have obvious benefits to creativity and group expression (harmonizing together in  song); moral education, focus on scenarios that involve problematic social interactions and could have management education value. Extracurricular activities, even in the workplace can have positive effects on work group (shop-floor) morale.

Afternoon review/reflection meeting (15 minutes): review, hanseikai, of the day's studies, assignments and upcoming events or activities requiring materials brought from home.

Students hear announcements on the classroom intercom, but do not have any meeting of their own to review/reflect on the day's events.

Designated time for reflecting on the day's production as well as time to make proposals to improve the next day's production is an essential part of the improvement/management process. (pamphlet terms: Jikouteikanketsu, Yarijimai)

Scenario VI.
Where at Work and in Japan

1) The bathroom is here/there/over there. Toire wa koko/soko/asoko desu.
The bathroom is on the left/right. Toire wa migi/hidari ni arimasu. Recall that Japanese students from the first through the twelfth grades clean their own toilets nearest their classrooms. It is part of their learned corporate, or common property, work consciousness.

2) I'm (working) working hard and persevering. Gambarimasu! At the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Japanese fans often yelled Gambatte! (an abbreviated form of Gambarimasu) to the Japanese athletes as they prepared for their events.

3) Did you understand? Wakarimashitaka?
    Yes, I understood. Hai, wakarimashita.

4) Are you good with that?, or Are you in agreement with that? Ii desuka?
    If you are not good with that, and want something repeated one more time, you can say, Mou ichi-do onegaishimasu. Slowly please! Yukkuri Onegaishimasu!

5) Really, you were a big help! Hontou ni, o sewa ni narimashita! Younger students will indeed say this to their senior classmates at the sending-off party (okurukai) before the formal graduation ceremonies.
    No, I (or we) should be thanking YOU! Kotira Koso, Arigatou Gozaimashita!

6) A. Shall we go? Ikimashouka?
          Yes, let's go! Hai, Ikimashou!
     B. Shall we start? Hajimemashouka?
         Hai, Hajimemashou!

7) A. Where is your hometown? Anata no furusato wa doko desuka?
      My hometown is here. Watashi no furusato wa koko desu.
      My hometown is Yamanashi. Watashi no furusato wa Yamanashi desu.
  B. Where is Yamanashi? Yamanashi wa doko desuka?
        Yamanashi is on Honshu. Yamanashi wa Honshu ni arimasu.
     C. Is it near Tokyo? Tokyo ni chikai desuka?
          Yes, its near Tokyo. Hai, Tokyo ni chikai desu.
No, it's near Nagoya. Iie, Nagoya ni chikai desu.

vocabulary: toire, koko, soko, asoko, migi/hidari, ni, arimasu, gambarimasu, wakarimashita, wakarimasen deshita, Ii desuka, mou ichi do, yukkuri, hontouni, o sewa ni narimashita, douitashimashite, kotira kouso, ikimashou, doko, furusato, ni, chikai, arimasu


Yearly Cycle of Goal Setting, Planning, Work, and Review before New Year
(still under construction)

  Self-improvement, school improvement, or improvement of the workplace is a process that runs throughout the year, and it is especially evident the working, school year in February and March when individuals, each homeroom class, and the whole school organization conducts reviews of all of the performance, campaigns and special events that took place throughout the year. The Setsubun (bean throwing) ritual described above represents one event in February when the individual reflects on his weaknesses so that he may set achievable goals for the new year. In this activity, organized by the student council. Similarly, at the end and beginning of each semester in the year, each student writes a reflective essay that may be chosen to be read in front of the weekly school assembly, exploring the ways he or she has or has not been able to realize his goals and the need for different goals. At the class/grade level there are meetings held in each class/grade-level to reflect on the past cycle, set updated goals for the upcoming one at the beginning and reflect on the class performance at the beginning and end of each semester throughout the year.Each student in grades four through six, participates in the student management organization through direct participation in committees that plan campaigns for improving school life and school life at least nine different levels:

1) school lunch (organizing the lunch menu wall for nutritional categories, checking on the organization of the lunch carts, plates, utensils from each class, recycling milk containers, tops, wrappers, making posters and presentations on nutrients and food at the weekly student assembly once a semester);
2) health (washing hands in classrooms soap materials, helping the nurse, making posters, escorting sick students to the nurse; making presentations and plays on bacteria, etc at the weekly assembly once a semester);
3) library (help the librarian check and re-check books, read books over the speaker during lunch, make posters to promote reading campaigns, decorate the library, organize books;
4) announcements (play music, interview teachers, do quizzes, and make announcements during the school lunch when everyone is serving/eating in their classrooms and at the end of the day for parting greetings;
5) exercising (help with the seasonal/daily exercising outside, organizing and using the field tools, making lines on the field, posters);
6) taking care of the school animals (feeding/cleaning school pet areas chickens, rabbits, birds; make posters about animals and how to handle the animals),
7) taking care of school flower garden (watering/seeding/transplanting plants into the school flower garden, and make posters on how to keep flowers/weeding),
8) school enshrinement/grounds keeping (main hall area cleaning and cleaning tools situation, posters, presentations/plays on importance of cleaning/organizing tools);
9) helping people who need special attention (someone with no friends, donations for charities or kids in other countries, make posters, and giver reports)

Calendar of events and major activities managed by committees for a year (examples):

February: Bean throwing assembly (Setsubun), review of third semester and school year by student government; election of student government (jidyoukai) for the upcoming year (beginning in April)
March: assembly for review of the last year by student government (Jidousoukai, illus. above), individual reviews of semester and school year in each class/grade; Farewell assembly for 6th graders (every class/grade shares their memories and gratitude and chorus songs for the sixth graders, Graduation Ceremony (includes fourth and fifth grader participation, sending-off well-wishes and chorus song), End of Semester/school year for 1st through 5th grades including reading of individual reviews and hopes for the new school year (Syuugyoushiki and shyuuyouhiki); one week to ten day Spring Break
April: Entrance Ceremony for first graders (student government representatives give them lapel flowers and speech), First Semester ceremony (Shigyoushiki) to meet new teachers; Welcoming assembly and junior-senior play activities for 1st graders (planned by the student government--4th through 6th graders); teachers visit students' homes after school
May: One-year plan introduced and implemented by student government and committees, including discussion of activities opinions for and against from each class (Jidousoukai); two night, three day field trip, or Shuugakuryoko for sixth graders (including goal-making meeting before and reflection meeting afterwards)
June: Regional sports tournaments (Rikjyou kirokukai), School pool opening ceremony
July: Summer Star festival assembly, including junior-senior activities (Tanabata), End of First Semester ceremony including goal-making, individual planning for the summer vacation (Syuugyoushiki),
August: 6 week summer vacation, Second Semester start ceremony (Shigyoushiki)
September: Earthquake drill, sports festival practice for two to three weeks with junior-senior guidance practices and activities during event (Undoukai) *reflection meeting afterwards)
October: Two weeks practice for sixth grade regional ball games tournament (Kyuugitaikai), Teachers' model class research open house (Kenkyuu jyugyou)
November: State art (painting) contest for first through sixth grades, Chorus/instrument assembly for each grade
December: Major cleaning at the end of second semester (Oosouji), End of semester review, goal-making, and ceremony (Shuugyoushiki), three week winter break
January: Calligraphy contest for all grades, Ice Skating lessons for 1st through fourth graders and Ski lessons for fifth and sixth graders; Beginning of third semester ceremony, including student presentation of goals for the new semester (Shigyoushiki)

students in the broadcast committee review the month of February,  the last year, and the upcoming monthThis is the monthly meeting of the announcement committee in February during which they are reviewing the month of February, making final editions for the plans for March, and making the annual summary of the year's activities and their reflections to present to the whole school before the school assembly meeting for final review in March. Elections for the student council are held for the upcoming fourth, fifth and sixth graders who will wait in the helm during the final review meeting. They will be ready to build on the past review when their turn to make proposals comes in March. The two pictures below are of the first annual meeting in May after all of the classes have read and discussed the planning in their individual classes. (This is the same pattern as the review process and meeting in March) In their classes they discuss the proposed review of strong and weak points of each of the committees and gave reasons as to why they agree and disagree with the conclusions. Each discussion group has to reconcile their opinions and then present the groups common findings; as well as summarize the opinions of the whole class so that the findings can be presented at the final review meeting which usually takes about 90 minutes to complete, and whose final results are circulated the next day to the whole school.




Scenario VII.
How's it? .  .  . How was it?

1) Are/were you busy today? Kyou wa, isogashii/isogashikatta desuka? tomorrow ashita, yesterday kinou, next week raishyu, every day mai nichi
No not very busy. Iie, amari isogashikunai/isogashikunakatta desu.
   Yes, very busy. Hai, totemo isogashii/isogashikatta desu.

2) Is/was it interesting? Omoshiroi/omoshirokatta desuka? movie eega, game ge-mu,
   Hai, omoshiroi/omoshirokatta desu.

   Iie, omoshirokunai/omoshirokunakatta desu.

3) Was it good? Yokatta desuka? (compare with Ii desuka?)
    That was good! Yokatta desu!
   That is/was not good. Yokunai/yokunakatta desu!
That is/was not very good. Amari yokunai/yokunakatta desu!

4) Is/was it fun? Tanoshii/tanoshikatta desuka? trip ryoko, hiking haikingu, bicycling jitenshya
    Iie, tanoshikunai/tanoshikunakatta desu.
    Hai, tanoshii/tanoshikatta desu.

5) Is/was it enough? Tarimasuka/Tarimashitaka? (The root verb is tariru)
    Hai, tarimasu/tarimashita.
    Iie, tarinai/tarinakatta desu.
    Do you have enough money? Okane tarimasuka?
    Iie, totemo tarinai desu!    

6) Is everything okay? Daijoubu desuka?
   It's all right! Don't worry about it! Daijoubu Daijoubu
It's not all right! Daijobu jya nai!

vocabulary: kyou isogashii, isogashikatta, ashita, raishyuu, amari, totemo, omoshoroi, omoshirokatta, ge-mu, eega, yokatta, yokunai, yokunakatta, tanoshii, tariru, tanoshikatta, tarimasu


Some Japanese Geography and History Basics

Geography: The Japan Archipelago (Nihon Rettou) consists of four main islands (north to south: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushuu) and thousands of small islands, including Okinawa, the southernmost island. In terms of land area, Japan has roughly the same land area as the state of California. Japan is one of the most forested and mountainous modern industrial countries with approximately 60% of the land forested and 70% mountainous. A good geographic comparison would be to carve out the Appalachian mountains from the Eastern seaboard of the United States, from Main to northern Alabama and make an island chain from them. Hokkaido's climate (weather -- tenki) is comparable to Maine's and the average temperatures (ondo) and rainfall is comparable throughout the rest of the islands. Tokyo is at about the same line of latitude as Charlotte, N.C. at 35° 40' 60 N. The Japanese archipelago is on the edge of the Pacific and Asian plates, the Pacific Ring of Fire, and this explains why Japan has thousands of hot springs (onsen) and small earthquakes (jishin) every year and a major earthquake (daijishin) at least every century. Neighborhoods and school locations are organized, in part, because of the danger of earthquakes and the need for a system to tackle the management challenges of coping with a natural disaster (every neighborhood also has a meeting center for announcements and very local activities). Other likely natural disaster that can occur include typhoon (hurricanes) during the rainy season (tsuyu) from mid-June through mid-July. Okinawa and Hokkaido, the southernmost and northernmost extremes in Japan were only incorporated into Japan proper in the late 19th century. Distinct non-Japanese ethnicities were the majority in Okinawa and Hokkaido's until development and settlement became the majority influence by early 20th century. While the Japanese, Mongolian descendants related to the people who became American Indians twenty thousand years ago, were pushing-out Caucasian aboriginals (Ainu) in the 19th century while Caucasians in America were pushing out the native Mongolian descendant aboriginals.

Vocabulary: Nihon Rettou, Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushuu, Okinawa, ondo, onsen, jishin, daijishin, typhoon, tsuyu, Ainu

History: Being a mountainous, forested, island country, political power has historically been decentralized despite the Imperial government first in Nara (7th century) and Kyoto (8th century to 16th century). Only with the rise of small firearms in the 16th century does Japan become one nation of common allegiances when Oda Nobunaga uses firearms (thanks to the Portuguese) to become a military dictatorship, or Shogun and move his Bakufu (or military tent) to Edo. After a few decades of Spanish and Portuguese influence in Japan, the united Bakufu government banished these countries people from Japan because of the exclusive nature of the their religion and the possible divisiveness it could spell for Japanese allegiances. Interestingly, the Dutch, who were not proselytizing were allowed to stay on the island of Nagasaki to conduct limited trading with the Japanese. For two hundred years, until Admiral Perry, of the U.S. Navy demanded and received trade relations with Japan in 1858, the Dutch were Japan's only formal relationship with Western Europe and America. A branch of learning called Dutch studies or Rangaku, developed during this time. Rangaku revealed some gaps in the superiority of Chinese learning, especially regarding the new field of objective, logic-based science. Whereas the Chinese view of nature emphasized the harmony and balance of nature to the extreme of ignoring some internal organs if they did not make sense, Dutch, and European science emphasized pure observation and experimentation. Dutch anatomy sketches included all organs regardless of any lack of understanding. After two hundred and fifty years later, the Meiji Ishin marked a new Imperial rein when the Emperor's family moved from Kyoto to Edo, now called Tokyo, and the centuries-old military order lost its last stand during a brief Civil War that took place about the same time America's Civil War did. The movie, "The Last Samurai," attampts to capture the tradgedy of noble southerners' "last stand."

  Simultaneous to the Edo Period in Japan was the growing subjugation of the Chinese to Western powers between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. The Chinese government at this time was going through one of their cyclical periods of northern influence, when Mongolian rooted cultures came over and around the Great Wall to dominate southern Chinese, or Han, culture. Early on in the mid 16th century, when the Chin government was less corrupted, China's relationship with Spanish and Portuguese was constructive; but by the early nineteenth century, Western military power backed by steam ships and repeating rifles had gained the upper-hand in China and the Japanese looked-on learning from a safe distance the changing realities of the increasingly Western military-dominated world economy.
  Japan's formal relationship with China went back to the 7th century C. E. Nara Period, when the Chinese Tang government (6th to the 9th centuries) made Buddhism the state religion to control more territory, and Japan tried the same. Buddhism in Japan as in China made great cultural impact on people of all walks of life and monasteries proved to be beacons of stability during times of economic and political duress, and they became so successful that the government had to reassert its power over the monasteries in both Japan and China by breaking ties with them and physically burning-down some monasteries. Despite the sometimes violent tension between politics and religion, Buddhism has been a unifying force in both Japan and China.  Hideyoshi, one of the three "founding fathers" of the Edo period, famously tried to use the influence of Rikyu the master of the tea ceremony to convince the leaders of competing regions in the country to get support for his plans to invade Korea between 1592 and 1598. Rikyu was of the merchant class, however, who had stong ties with merchants in Korea and refused to be Hideyoshi's political pawn. To Hideyoshi, Rikyuu's stubborness was treasonous; but rather than assasinate him, he allowed him to committ the more honorable ritual suicide, seppuku, better know in the West as hara kiri. The soul is thought to reside in the stomach, so the act of cutting open one's stomach is believed to prove one's sincere intentions.
 While the Chinese were conquered every couple of centuries by the Mongolian tribes, the Japanese were remained protected, and even lucky on more than one occasion. Twice during the biggest period of Mongol rule in China established by Chingez Kahn's conquests, the Japanese were saved by typhoon winds, they called kami-kaze ("divine winds") that sunk the Mongol ships before they could land in Japan. Japan's proximity to the continent, like Great Britain's protected kept them just far enough away from harm, yet close enough to learn from the great civilizations of China and Rome to make technological and cultural advances on their own terms. When the new Meiji government formed in the late 19th century, Japan quickly put the pieces of their understanding of the west and quickly began to play the game of global competition first defeating Russia in 1905 and capturing land to the north of Hokkaido. The Japanese helped European Allies during the First World War and were rewarded with some German territory in China much to the Chinese dismay. When the world economy fell apart in the 1930s, the Japanese econonmy was so devastated that the military tried to improve the economy through the production of more weapons and invasion of northern China which was still much under the influence of Western powers regardless of the rhetoric of the First World War being about Self Determination for all peoples of the world. Japan was playing the global military-economic game that Europe had been so effective conducting for the previous two centuries.
   When America stopped selling Japan oil in protest over Japan's invasion of Northern China, Japan attempted to knock out American aircraft carriers on Pearl Harbor to buy time to secure other sources of oil. America had control of the Phillipines before Pearl Harbor and had a number of territories, including Hawaii. Hawaii is actually closer to Japan than it is the American mainland and here were more people of Japanese descent in Hawai'i as there were people of European and American descent before Pearl Harbor (there were three Japanese language newspapers in Honolulu alone). The U.S. Marines had deposed the internationally-recognized Hawai'ian queen in 1893 to protect U.S. business and military interests on the islands. Hawaii became a state of the U.S. in 1957, but Japan ties to Hawai'i remain strong to this day due to the century-plus history of immigration to the islands. Japan's ties remain strong as evidenced partly by the number of Hawai'ian sumo wrestlers that have achieved the highest levels of honor in Japan's national sport. Only recently have wrestlers from Mongolia and Bulgaria have achieved similar distinctions Japan. Mongolia has a form of wrestling that is comparable to sumo.

vocabulary: Nara, Kyoto, Shogun, Bakufu, Rangaku, Edo, Meiji Ishin, Hideyoshi, Rikyu, seppuku, hara kiri, kami-kaze, sumo


Cultural Benchmarks Through the Seasons

Winter: November-December-January

susan boyle  As in most cultures around the world, January 1 is celebrated as a time to say goodbye, or attempt to say goodbye, to the bad habits of the past year, make resolutions and welcome the new ones. As in Europe, New year's celebrations are more formalized than Christmas and last longer than they do in America. Japan has at least a three day national holiday over new years. On New Years Eve people families often watch the, Kohaku Uta Gassen, a New Years Eve talent show for singer-performers that includes everyone who made it big that year; and sometimes even including foreign talents like Susan Boyle's guest performance in 2009. All of the performers are divided between the white or the red team, and the viewers vote on the performances to see if white or red, the national colors of the Japanese flag, will win. While the evening of exciting, highly choreographed performances go on, families eat festive dinners and just before New Years (midnight) many families visit the local Buddhist temple to ring the temple bell for good luck in keeping their resolutions to do away with their bad habits and vices. At midnight, priests in some of the biggest temples ring the bell 108 times to remind people of the 108 human (Buddhist) bonnou (vices) to be on guard against. Each age has its special vices too, so there are temples and rituals that are especially for specific vices. It no coincidence then that here are often 108 steps leading to many of the more famous temples in Japan. The Karate Kid's Omiyagi-san would be interested in the conncetions made between Buddhsim and Karate in this article.
christmas cake  December is also the month when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, and the Japanese do celebrate this event, but not so much in a religious sense for most Japanese. Christmas Eve is probably the most popular night for a romantic dinner date with most restaurant and hotel reservations booking months in advance. A Christmas cake with white icing and strawberries is also a popular desert on Christmas Eve. Like almost anywhere in the world between the winter solstice (December 25 on the Roman calendar December 21st on the Julian, our current calendar) and New Years, people in Japan decorate the home with evergreens and Christmas trees are a natural extension. A gift or two may be exchanged by people on Christmas eve or Christmas morning, but more significant gifts are exchanged over the three day national holiday over New Years as is the practice in Europe. There are practicing Protestant and Catholic Christians throughout Japan, but many still practice some Buddhist and Shinto holidays.
  Many Japanese visit a local shinto shrine over the New Years years holiday. While Buddhist temples and their traditions are more concerned with someone's eternal salvation, or release from the world of mortal suffering, Shinto traditions are more concerned with ushering in the new with rituals marking the naming of babies and the purification of construction sites and new buildings. If you asked the average Japanese the typical American question, "What religion are you?", it may not make sense because the religions they practice are not exclusive of one another. Most are born a Shinto with a christening ceremony and they die a Buddhist with prayers for his or her salvation. There are two national holidays on the three days that include March 21st (Haru no Higan) and September 21st (Aki no Higan), when the spirits are believed to return -- in the Spring to "that shore" of the river (Sanzu no Kawa) between living and dead, usually at the temple grave, and then in a more regional holiday mid to late August when the spirits return to the family home (if they are called) and to a neighborhood dance (Obon Odori). The following article describes in more detail on the extensive rituals Buddhism provides the Japanese for remembering someone even decades after they are dead.

Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Japanese Traditions of Death and Remembrance:
(a presentation given to the congregation of
the Georgia Mountains Unitarian Universalist Church in Dahlonega, May 25, 2008)

praying at the family grave

   "Will the circle be unbroken" is a song about mourning the loss of a parent and the hope that she'll have "a better home a-waiting in the sky". The mysterious question in the refrain, however, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" is ambiguous. Who is to say to what extent the Circle of Life can be broken or remain unbroken? The original title of the hymn was "Can the Circle Be Unbroken" (Bye and Bye). From a Japanese, and even Asian Buddhist, perspective, the Circle of Life is full of pain and suffering and needs to be broken occasionally to achieve a more transcendent life. From a Buddhist perspective, the Circle encompasses all of life, with all of its extremes, within which humans are a part. The Japanese use the term go not the Indian term "karma" to describe one's actions on earth that have ramifications into eternity. Through the prism of our Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition, go or karma becomes our good works as well as our sinful acts. The reward of breaking the circle of earthly attachments in an ever changing world is Enlightenment or Sattori in this lifetime, and Heaven or Nirvana for eternity. The biggest difference between the two is the belief that spirit, or soul of the deceased person in the Asian tradition continues to transmigrate into different states of existence, or worlds, that do not end with the death of the body. These states can be categorized symbolically as: 1) (Jigoku) Hellish Jail (extreme pain and suffering that mirrors the most sinful actions); 2) (Gaki) Ghosts of unsatisfying hunger, greed and jealousy; 3) (Chikusho) Animalistic arrogance and selfishness; 4) (Ashura) uncontrollable anger and rage; 5) (Jin) human feelings for each other--two helping each other stand; 6) (Tengoku) Heavenly feelings, which include some sadness. For the first 49 days (every 7 days for 7 weeks) after death, ten judges determine the fate of the person. Keeping the bones in an earn during this time is common while daily and weekly prayers are given for the deceased. There is a small shrine in the home is kept and used to make offerings of flowers, food, and prayers (small chime and incense). Ceremonies continue at 100 days; 1st year; 3rd year; 7th year; 13th year; 17th year; 23rd; 27th; 33rd. This is the end of the ritual for most families (after 33 years, there usually aren't many people who remember the person, but there are some families who continue the ceremonies up to 50 years). These rituals, seen from a distance can be misunderstood because they appear to be "ancestor worship." In reality it is "training" for the living and the dead. By the end of the training, the deceased can become like a guardian saint of the family. In the process of the training, the survivors learn from the mistakes of the deceased and try to improve their own lives spiritually. For example, at the first year ceremony for Sayuri's grandmother, 22 year ceremony for Sayuri's grandfather and 32 year ceremony for her father was also held. The training for this ceremony for all in attendance considered the seven types of almsgiving that don't require money and can be performed anywhere: 1) Gense (a kind attitude and eye contact); 2) Wagense (Peaceful smile); 3) Gonse (Gentle, caring words. For example, if you share your sorrow with someone, that sorrow will diminish to half of what it was; and if you share your happiness with someone, that happiness will double through through each person.); 4) Shinse (voluntary, physical labor); 5) Sinse Kokoro (sincere, thoughtful work); 6) Zase (giving up your space, or position, for someone); 7) Boushase (providing food and shelter for a traveler, like a home stay). Through the remembrance of the actions of the deceased, one can move more easily between the six realms of existence, and more importantly, help others (including the deceased) move between these realms. The Circle will remain unbroken, but we can make it a little more fluid and bearable. The power of one act of selfless kindness can multiply into the universe and become strong enough to move thousands out of a hellish prison. Another good example of this Buddhist perspective of hell and salvation is found in a short story called, The Spider's Thread, taught in Japanese secondary schools:

summary of The Spider's Thread (Kumo no Ito),
1918 short story by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa

The Lord Buddha is walking along the shore of a lotus pond at dawn. The beauty and fragrance pure white petals and golden stamen of the lotus flowers are indescribably satisfying as the Buddha looks down into the pond through two pure white petals. He sees down into the depths of hell, into the pool of blood where sufferers rise and fall trying to reach the mountain of spikes. He sees a murderer and a thief there and remembers that while this person was once walking through the forest, he spared the life of a spider walking along the same road. A spider in the lotus then sent down a silvery thread all the way down to the pool of blood. The murderer takes hold and begins the hard climb out of the depths. After climbing to a point of exhaustion, he looks back to find that thousands of others are taking hold of the same thread on which he is climbing. Horrified by the thought that the thread might break with so many climbing, he yells down that they get off of his thread. At that moment, the thread breaks and everyone, including himself falls back into the pool of blood. Morning has become noon at the Lotus Pond and the Lord Buddha continues his walk along the shore with a hint of sadness.

vocabulary: Kohaku uta gassen, 108 Bonnou, Haru no higan, Aki no higan, Obon Odori, kokkoro, sattori, jigoku, tengoku, kumo no ito, Sanzu no kawa,


Scenario VIII
Who and When: Desribing Pictures

1) Who is this? Kore wa dare desuka?
    This is my aunt. Kore wa, watashi no, Obasan desu.
    Uncle Ojisan, Mother Okaa-san, Father Otoo-san, Grandmother Obaasan (compare pronunciation with Obasan),
    Grandfather Ojiisan, son musuko, daughter musume, husband otto, wife tsuma, younger brother/sister otouto/imouto, older brother/sister oniisan, oneesan

2) How old is he/she? Kare/kanojo wa nan sai desuka? one year old is-sai, two years old ni sai, san sai, yon sai, go sai, roku sai, nana sai, has-sai, kuu-sai, juu sai

3) So cute! Kawaii! (not to be confused with kowai, which means scary)

4) When is this? Kore wa itsu desuka?
This is Junuary. Kore wa ichi-gatsu desu.
     (Febuary ni-gatsu, March san-gatsu, April shi-gatsu, May go-gatsu, June roku- gatsu, July shichi-gatsu,
     August hachi-gatsu, September ku-gatsu, October jyuu-gatsu, November jyuuichi- gatsu, December  jyuuni-gatsu)

    This is two years ago. Kore wa ni-nen mae desu.
    (one year ichi-nen, ago mae, two years ni-nen, three years san-nen, four years yo-nen, five years go-nen, six years roku-nen
     seven years shichi-nen, eight years hachi-nen, nine years ku-nen, ten years jyuu-nen, twenty years ni-jyuu-nen, thirty years       san-jyuu-nen .... one hundred years hyaku-nen, one thousand years sen-nen)

3) What time is it now? Ima, nan ji desuka?

     It is 1 o'clock now. ima, ichi-ji desu.
     (2 o'clock  ni-ji, 3 o'clock san-ji, 4 o'clock yo-ji, 5 o'clock go-ji, 6 o'clock roku-ji, 7 o'clock shichi-ji,
      8 o'clock hachi-ji, 9 o'clock  ku-ji, 10 o'clock jyuu-ji, 11 o'clock jyuuichi-ji, 12 o'clock jyuuni-ji)

4) When does it begin? Itsu hajimemasuka?
It begins at three in the afternoon. Gogo san-ji ni hajimemasu.

     AM gozen, PM gogo,