Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dubai Metro Memories- Part 3: Lessons From the Japanese

Me with my Japanese Managers

Japanese people are known for their hard work. No wonder they have developed into an economic force to reckon, despite being tested by nature very frequently.
 There were many lessons that I learned from my Japanese managers while working in the Dubai Metro.

Let me try to list a few:

 1.    Work is Worship and Company is God:
For them work is worship and the company they are working for is God. Their sincerity, their hard work and their attitude towards work as being a duty, is one thing you can’t fail to notice. They are workaholics by nature.
There were no fixed working hours for them. They came before their staff and left after they all left.
Company things belonged to the company and should not be misused. They never did and didn’t allow others to do it as well.
There was an instance, when one of the managers took his wife to the hospital for delivery via the long route. The reason was that, he wanted to see a road diversion work that had been completed, which came on the way!!

2.    Respect Elders, Women and Family:

The Japanese greet each other by bowing. Elder the person, higher is his rank and higher the respect he needed to be given. One should always bow deepest to the most senior man.

We used to stop all work and watch this greeting; when some higher official came for a visit. They bow to the like of some seventy degrees!!

There is another ritual called Meishi Kokan when the visitor presents his visiting card. The card is received with both hands, read over carefully and the information is repeated aloud and the card is placed in a cardholder with respect. They never stuff it into their pocket or purse instantly like we do. That is considered disrespectful.
Here is a video about Meishi Kokan...

Wife and Family were respected equally. My husband who worked in the same company albeit in a different section always used this to request leave. I was perpetually sick according to his office mates.
          If you are sure they won’t give you leave, follow this rule!!

3.    The Power Nap:

My managers used to take a power nap at 1 0’ clock every day without fail. They will stop all work at one and start napping. At precisely 1.30 they will wake up without an alarm or anyone calling. We used to say that we can adjust our watches watching them. Fukayama sir once told us, it was made mandatory right from school.

4.    Eat for living and don’t live for eating:

The amount of food they eat the full day would add up to what we ate at one single meal.  Bento-ya Kitchen, a Japanese restaurant which delivered a lunch box for my manager every day. Once my manager called in to say that he was stuck somewhere and won’t be on time for lunch. He requested me to give his food to someone or if I wanted to test their food, eat it myself.

I took the parcel from his desk and sat down with my other Indian friends to eat Japanese food, in style. When I opened the lunch box, it was a pathetic sight. What lay inside would hardly fill 1/4th of my tummy. There was just a scoop of sticky rice, smoked fish and some sea weed cooked in fish sauce (which made me almost gag).
And my colleagues insisted I use the Chopsticks!! Jithu took a picture of me using chopsticks and then later emailed it to everyone.

Jithu taunted me that he won’t give even one scoop of rice from his lunch box and I think I forcefully took some and ate just to make the taste of the fish sauce go. Fish was tasty though.

5.    Work hard then Party hard:
No Japanese worked on weekends. They de-stressed for the whole week in a single day. Barhopping being the usual practice, and also music and Dance.
On Fridays, the workaholics became alcoholics completely.
New Year was a national holiday as well!!

6.    Patriotism and Education:
They loved everything Japanese. They purchased only Japanese goods and the language they used for learning was Japanese. All their reference books were in Japanese.
Their education was thorough. They could start any design from scratch and didn’t need much reference other than the exact location readings. They studied everything thoroughly.
When it came to English, they didn’t give much importance to it.
They knew that Hindi was the national language of India and so thought all Indians knew to speak Hindi. They were taken aback when we said it was not compulsory to learn it in India and that we have more than 100 dialects spoken in India.

7.    Build Bridges Everywhere you Go:

They trusted their employees. Once you came into their good graces, you have a friend for life. They will trust your judgment, your connections and the people in your acquaintance list.
 Appointments happened mostly on recommendation and if you had a friend who was seeking a job, he was immediately welcomed.
But scorn them or betray their trust, they will never trust you again. Being Buddhists, they forgave easily but trust once gone was gone forever.

8.    Work classification:
For them, there is no work classification. They would do the work of the office boy if the condition arises.
Once, Fukayama sir spilled his tea and also the glass fell down and broke. Shards of glass were everywhere. He didn't shout for the office boy to come and clean up. Instead, he went to the store room, found a mop and broom and cleaned it all himself.
In the initial days, there was no accountant for our section and the accounting works were given to me. They told me, by doing this you learn another work, which will add to your knowledge.

They were all self-sufficient. If required they could manage without any other skilled staff.
Their education was life oriented and not job oriented.
They were efficient employers. No matter how the employees were, they knew how to use them to advantage. They recognize your skills and put them to good use.

This is a Thank You post to all the Japanese people whom I have met and worked with.

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Yay..another top post...


  1. Good one, Preethi. I've seen many Japanese people at the various Metro Stations at Dubai. You've shared a very insightful article about them. Nice to know about the small ritual with the business card :)

    1. Thank You Sreeja... Glad you found it interesting...

  2. Really nice, Preethi. You have shared your personal experiences. Makes it very interesting. Loved this :)
    The Japanese really deserve all the praise for having such wonderful progress after the unfortunate WWII.

    1. Very true Anita... One of my friend who lived in Japan for a while told me that Hiroshima and Nagasaki which were turned to dust in WWII are now two splendid cities which shows their phoenix like capability.

      Thank You for the comment Anita.

  3. Great post :) my neighbour s from Japanese. She s very helping and lovely women :)

  4. yep I too had a nyc exp wit them..good post:-)

    1. Thank You Aparna.. Glad you had a nice experience with the Japanese.

  5. No wonder the Japanese have scaled the peaks of economic success!

  6. Good one on Japanese spirit of dedication.
    The world needs to learn a lesson from them.

    1. Yes Indrani.. True... No one can beat the Japanese spirit of dedication.

  7. This is a beautiful post, backed by beautiful narrative and off course your take on their food was very interesting! Japanese are known for their dedication. It is only Japan that can erect the country back post Nagasaki n Hiroshima..and not just that, make the country top rung too!

    1. Yes..you are right. They are dedicated to their work and country.
      Thank You for the comment iNumeroUnity.

  8. This is an awesome post Preethi! Glad you thought of writing this wonderful post!

    The Arts & Me

    1. Nice that you found it Awesome Sindhu... Hope you will adopt some of their tips.

    2. :) Hmm, yes! I love my nation! I really believe work is worship. I do respect all the living beings! I love my family! I eat only for living! In fact, sometimes I question myself 'Why do we feel hungry???'

      Well, I have learned to work without classification in my college where I had been teaching before. It was a family rather than an institution, where the head of the institution set the example for us! Even the sweeper had been given due respect!

      I love my work! My work is my passion! I do what I enjoy... So, needn't really take a break!

      I have seen many people trying to speak in English or Hindi among their relatives and family. They feel inferior to speak in their own language, I feel! I can speak in English (not a master) but, I don't like mixing it with any other language of our own! I think, all the languages are beautiful with their own fragrances! Mixing spoils them!

      I felt great reading about 'reading the cards aloud'... Yes, I need to adopt this! But, I may need to face criticism from people that I don't know the manners!

      And, the Power Nap! A big No to this! Because I love to sleep so much that it won't just be a nap :D

      Just felt like sharing my thoughts with you :)

      The Arts & Me

  9. When I was a kid I had a lesson in mu HIndi text named- 'yeh Japani bachche' (Japanese Kids) which made me learn how hardworking Japanese are.

    The lessons you shared are like gateway to a perfect life. :)

    1. Thank you Namrata for the kind words. I adore the Japanese for their hard work and dedication.