Everything You Need To Know About Working in a Japanese Company
Friday, November 18, 2022
First day of work, company hierarchy, and more.
What To Do/Say/Wear on Your First Day Of Work
Your first day of work is full of first impressions. Make sure you know the rules and put your best foot forward. Here are a few things to remember:
1. Know how to get to the office. Check the route on Google, calculate the commute time, and make sure you don’t get lost on the subway!
2. Wear a suit (with a tie for men). Unless otherwise specified, usually black, but dark grey or navy blue is also OK. If you don’t need to wear a suit, here is a general guideline on how to look professional at work.
3. Be EARLY. On-time in Japan means 10 to 15 minutes early. If work starts at 9:00 am, make sure you are there by 8:45 at the latest on your first day, and every day after that.
4. Make sure to bring all required documents requested by HR. This includes visa documents, work permits, bank information, and your personal stamp (inkan). In addition, bring a pen and notebook to take notes.
5. Have your personal introduction prepared. You will need to introduce yourself to your co-workers so be sure to leave a good impression.
Here are a few helpful phrases
- Hajimemashite [your name] to mōshimasu.
It’s nice to meet you, my name is (your name).
- (Your country) kara kimashita.
(Your country) から来ました。
I am from (your country)
- Kyōkara yoroshiku onegai shimasu.
I look forward to working with you from today.
Other possible topics to include are:
- Your role in the company
- What you were doing before joining the company
- How long you have been in Japan.
6. Most companies have 朝礼 (chōrei ) or morning meetings/announcements. You might have to introduce yourself during the chōrei so be prepared, and it will be ok.
7. Check with your superior before leaving at the end of the day. Even if you may not have much to do first see if you can be helpful to anyone, then ask for permission to leave. When leaving make sure you say your proper goodbyes, which include:
- Sakini shitsurei shimasu. Otsukaresamadeshita.
I respectfully am leaving first. Thank you for your hard work today.
And there you have it; you survived your first day at work in a Japanese company. Wasn’t too bad was it?
For more insights on first-day, do’s and don’ts check out our article, “Making a difference on your first day at a job in a Japanese company.”
The Structure of a Japanese Company
|Jichō||次長（じちょう||Assistant Department Manager|
|Sha-in||社員（しゃいん||General full-time staff|
Everyone knows that Japan is a hierarchical society and that is demonstrated best inside a Japanese company. Large Japanese companies traditionally only hire once a year. Every April they bring in a new batch of recent graduates and groom them into the business through a process called haizoku.
New hires are rotated through every department of the company learning all aspects of the business and how the company works. As a result of this practice, some people get groomed to move up in the ranks in management and others remain as worker bees throughout their careers.
When working in a Japanese company it is vital to understand who is who in the ranking system and what connections and associations one has with another as shown in the table above.
Not included in the table is just one category, Dōki.
Dōki (同期) are the people you enter the company with. These connections will likely become the strongest ones you have in the company. Even as promotion levels vary, having the first experiences together as young adults develops valuable ties that can be seen throughout a career.
Basics of Email Writing in Japanese
Japanese business emails are very formal. Even if you have a friendly relationship with a client or supplier it is always wise to write emails in a formal manner.
Business emails follow a standard format and the format should be followed every time. Here is a basic outline for an email being sent outside your company:
To break it down, here are all the main parts:
|株式会社〇〇||Kabushikigaisha 〇〇||The full name of the receiver’s company, including the Co., Ltd.|
|〇〇部||〇〇Bu||Section/Department of the receiver|
|〇〇様||〇〇Sama||Receiver’s last name followed by –sama|
|お世話になります。||Osewa ni narimasu||This is the general introduction to all emails. It is meant to express appreciation, or to be obliged to someone.|
It is even used when you send someone an email for the first time as a show of respect.
There are alternate variations to show extra gratitude like:
Itsumo osewani narimasu
I am always indebted to you.
Taihen osewani natteimasu I am extremely grateful to you.
|〇〇の〇〇です。||[your company] no [your name] desu||Always identify who you are. Put your company name first your company name (with or without Co., Ltd) followed by your last name.|
|[Body]||Body||Body of the email|
|何卒よろしくお願い致します。||Nanitozo yoroshiku onegai itashimasu||I sincerely look forward to (continuing) working with you.|
Alternatives to this standard closing could be:
Going forward, I sincerely look forward to (continuing) working with you.
I am sorry to bother you when you are so busy, but I sincerely look forward to (continuing) working with you.
|〇〇||[Your name]||Either your last name only or your full name, last name first then first name.|
If you follow this simple format, you will always sound professional and courteous in all your business emails. It takes some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it’s the same format every time.
About the Author
I've been in Japan so long that I say my heart is Japanese. And still this country impresses me from time to time. In those moments I think, "That's why I love living in Japan."