What are your thoughts when you start working?


Nihonbashi Since I have started my part-time job at a Japanese Udon chain, I am now exposed to a much more Japanese environment than ever before. So far I have worked at foreign owned companies in Japan or then at a very American style local employer. Even though I have worked for more than 11 years in Japan, these days I am learning a lot about different behavior and rules. Of course one can argue that now because I work in the food industry, which has very little in common with life science and chemical environment that I have been active so far, therefore my observations only seem to be new. I personally doubt, because my husband is doing the same observations.
For me the most impressive new rule is to recite the motto of the company every day in the morning including the guidelines of the company. This daily ritual forces everyone to remember what the goals of the employer are and the expectations for the employees. Due to privacy reasons I am not able to provide the lines that I say every morning, but I have been introduced to Gosei, which is used in some companies in the food industry. The origin of Gosei comes from the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy, but is presently used as well by the The Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF). The goal in the past was that every evening the cadets were expected to meditate over the questions below.

Hast thou not gone against sincerity
Hast thou not felt ashamed of thy words and deeds?
Hast thou not lacked vigor?
Hast thou exerted all possible efforts?
Hast thou not become slothful?

I can tell you for sure that my thoughts and intentions at work have changed and my customer focus has increased immensely. I thought I knew how to appreciate my customers, but I think I was pretty shallow compared to now. I am sincerely grateful to have the opportunity to experience my self selected apprenticeship and learn so much daily. My recommendation for you is just to try to recite these lines in the next few mornings. I am sure you will see a difference too.

Brought to you by a happy student,

Sibylle Ito (伊藤シビル)

P.S. Let me point out even though I am a pacifist, Gosei showed my an option on how to give my best daily.

Japanese guy, western girlfriend: The guide for happiness


signal in Kuala Lumpur Recently I had been asked by a local publisher why I had chosen to write a guide (Japanese Man Looking For A Foreign Girlfriend: 17 Rules For Happiness) about having an international relationship in regard to Japan. In addition the question came up what I personally see as the biggest weakness for a Japanese man in a relationship with a foreign woman. I thought these are reasonable questions and would like to share with you my thoughts.
First of all, let me point out my intention for this guide is very simple: I would like to see more happy local or international couples in Japan or around the world. Unlike in many other countries, I believe Japanese men are facing quite a lot of societal and cultural pressure to be the provider for a girlfriend or a family. Personally I see the difference then in a relationship with a foreign woman that the pressure of being the sole provider falls most likely away. The relationship is much more based on a partnership with equal rights and duties. Considering then that for most Japanese men the dream of having a work life balance is out of reach, I think a different kind of relationship can give Japanese men a new perspective of how much more comfortable and fulfilling their future could be.
Moving on to the second point of the potentially biggest weakness of Japanese men in a relationship: Knowing themselves! I have seldom heard about a man that he is perceived as being secure enough to know how to express and fulfill his dreams, understanding his weak spots whether it is with his personality or lifestyle, plus having made up his mind on how he has planned to spend his future. Most likely Japanese men have not considered this part of self development connected with dating or a successful long term relationship. With the 17 rules my goal is to give some guidance on what can make any Japanese more successful with women. Of course the books covers more than just the mentioned topics above. I believe a fun approach to dating, combined with real advice is the key for success.
Let me point out that I wrote this book not based on stereotyping neither the Japanese nor the foreign side. For those curious to know more, check out the link to Amazon.

http://www.amazon.co.jp/Japanese-Man-Looking-Foreign-Girlfriend-ebook/dp/B00HQ1I4YA/ref=sr_1_1?s=english-books&ie=UTF8&qid=1389163968&sr=1-1&keywords=Japanese+Man+Looking+For+A+Foreign+Girlfriend%3A+17+Rules+For+Happiness

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (伊藤シビル)

Time to celebrate: 150 Years of Diplomatic Relations between Switzerland and Japan!


What a wonderful event! 2014 is a special year for two countries dear to my heart: Japan and Switzerland. We can celebrate that now 150 years ago on February 6, 1864 representatives from the Tokugawa shogunate and the Swiss delegation signed the Treaty of Friendship and Commerce. This is especially noteworthy, when considering this was just the eighth of such an treaty signed by Japan with a foreign country. More details on the history of the friendship between the two countries can be found on the Link of the official site of the Swiss Federal Department for Foreign Affairs.
In order to get you in the mood of the upcoming celebrations in February have a look at the video showing the similarities for both countries

I hope there will be an opportunity to potentially find you at one of the special events organized to celebrate this long friendship of two countries.

Brought to you by a very happy Sibylle Ito (伊藤シビル)

Having lots of questions in regard to Japan?


Omiyage from Tokyo There are aspects of the Japanese culture or society that had and will continue to puzzle foreigners. I came across a youtube channel that addresses in a very honest, curious, non judging way about several aspects like why there is such a mix and match of buildings in Japanese cities or how come Japanese like to take pictures with the peace sign. While there is a lot of not noteworthy material in regard to Japan presented on the Internet, I have to say I am impressed with The Japan Channel Dcom. When you have time, check out the videos to the topics of your interest. I can only recommend it.

http://www.youtube.com/user/TheJapanChannelDcom

Wishing you lots of entertainment and laughter,

Sibylle Ito (伊藤シビル)

Realistic voice within a lot of nonsense reported about Japan


Roppongi Tokyo Tower character One reason on why I had started years ago this blog is that I was missing on the Internet actual, facts based information about Japan, furthermore reliable business related comments about Japan. Sadly more and more “journalists” or even so-called Japan specialists focus more on finding eye-catching articles than actually consider to gain local experience or at least research properly about Japanese culture. Through a Japan focused group on LinkedIn I was introduced to the article below. This article is for me a highlight, especially considering the crap – sorry my language – that was published around the world in last few weeks.
I highly recommend you to take the time to learn about the real Japan, when the article below is a great source.

Sex myths without substance: Mislabelling Japan or if you have problems with accessing just use this link:
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/sex-myths-without-substance-mislabelling-japan-8911325.html#!

I hope you enjoy as much as I did the article by Beckie Smith.

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (伊藤シビル)

Addicted to Shisa


Shisa, Naha Since I came across the first Shisa at a restaurant with Okinawa cuisine, I have to say they stole my heart. I cannot even count anymore how many shisa “couples” I have at home. My passion became so great that now for me a home without shisa seems to me rather cold. On a recent trip to Okinawa last month, I had the opportunity to catch up with many of these beautiful guardians. I had learned in the past that you can recognize a female shisa by the closed mouth, but it seems the distinction is not so clear based on Wikipedia: “Some Okinawans believe the male has his mouth closed to keep bad out of the home, while the female has her mouth open to share goodness. Others believe the female has her mouth closed to “keep in the good”, while the male has his mouth open to “scare away the bad”.” No matter what the gender was, I could not resist taking lots of pictures and I am posting some of it below. Open mouth version:

Shisa, Naha

Closed mouth shisa (in my opinion a female shisa):
Shisa, Naha

All shisa have in coming that they have to look somewhat scary to ward off bad influence:
Shisa, Naha

An example of a shisa sitting on a roof for protecting a home:
Shisa, Naha

Modern, kind of cute shisa:
moderne Shisa, Naha

Rather scary, rough shisa standing up, which is rather unique:
Shisa, Naha

Not all shisa have to be as a full body, portrait versions exists as well:
Shisa, Naha

Rather overgrown, wild shisa:
Shisa, Naha

Looks for me like a shisa version that had too much awamori:
Shisa, Naha

Which is your favorite shisa? For me there is no favorite as I cannot help myself, because I fall in love with all of them.

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (伊藤シビル)

Japanese blue is Western green?


Street in Tokyo Every Non-Asian Japanese language student will be confused at some point about the different meaning of the color green in Japanese. All of the sudden a traffic light, fruits or vegetables might be pronounced as blue (青い) in Japanese, although they seem clearly not to be blue! So why is actually something green colored actually called blue? Originally green was considered a shade of blue and did not need special distinction in communication. Based on Wikipedia not until the Second World War did Japanese educational materials distinguish between different colors of green and blue. In daily life I come across both namings, but two occasions still confuse me. I still struggle to get used to say that I like blue vegetable juice when the mix seems greener than spinach to me. Another example is the traffic light, when you drive or walk on blue. Below is the actual example of the description of the blue traffic light in this year’s official Japanese safe driving handbook.

safe driving book

Although some mishaps occur in daily life, but I have to say it is much less dangerous when the “go sign” can be misunderstood than the “stop sign”.

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (伊藤シビル)