sometime in the autumn of my sophomore year that I decided I was going
to take the plunge and sign on for the university’s study abroad
program in Kyoto, Japan. I’d
studied Japanese since my first semester at Colgate, and I found the
Japanese language and culture more and more fascinating the further I
at least I hoped I was
in Kyoto and Kyoto
intricate kanji and intuitive
grammar structures still threw me for a loop.
But at this point in my college career I had it fairly set in my
mind that Japanese would be one of my concentrations, and as my sensei
(teacher) stared pointedly at me after asking for “volunteers,” I
knew it was my obligation as a concentrator to raise my hand.
Cocky that I
understood concepts like salaryman
and keigo (a formal form of
Japanese spoken in business situation or other formal occasions like
weddings) I picked through my pocket dictionary the night before the
tour for some key words and prepared to meet the gentlemen from Tokyo
Electric Company, the largest supplier of electricity in Japan.
morning dawned like many at Colgate: dreary and wet.
Upstate New York is famous for its breathtaking fall foliage, not
so famous for the gray, drizzly brand of weather which finds us when
those leaves hit the ground.
I put on my nicest business suit (having resolved the pants/skirt debate
the night before with a coin-toss) I went over the stock phrases I’d
drilled into my head: Watasi wa,
Jodi Neufeld de gozaimasu. Hajimemasite. (Hello, my name is Jodi Neufeld.
Pleased to meet you.) Sumimasen
ga, watasi no nihongo ga heta desu kara, yorosiku onegai-itasimasu.
(I’m sorry, but my Japanese is very bad, please excuse me.)
Somehow I had convinced myself that these two phrases, combined
with a well-executed bow, would simply blow my guests away and set the
tone for a marvelous little dialogue.
Two facts I
managed to forget: first of all, I am not fluent in
second, reading about Tokyo
businessmen is a completely insufficient manner of preparation for
actually meeting them.
Continued on next page:
with Japanese businessmen
Japan lost its soul? Japanese
in Canada Japanese
work ethics Generation
gap in Japan
gifts for Japanese business contacts
influence on New Zealand Dissolving
stereotypes of Japan
view of Japanese businessmen Information
about Japan Japan
as a homogeneous society Honne
of a salaryman Discrimination
in Japan Making
friends in Japan
How to seduce my Japanese teacher
Combined families in Japan
Guts to date Japanese women
Confusing Japanese guy
Why did the Japanese man turn quiet
Japanese corporate organization
Transformation of Japanese business