Live Streaming is the World Changer!

It was in November last year when I found the new live streaming app called Periscope.

I had heard of live video streaming platforms available at that time, but none of them were appealing to me. I could not understand the significance of having additional TV-type broadcasts that apparently did not have the quality of TV programs.

I really enjoyed this broadcast 🙂

However, I happened to watch live streaming video from Paris on the next day after the terrorist attack, and that blew away my stereotype image of live streaming.

Her broadcast showing the places where the massacre occurred was shocking to me, but I didn’t quite understand why her live-videos grabbed my heart so strongly. I recognized the reason why after a day or so, when TV reporters from all over the world arrived in Paris and started broadcasting the news.

Professional news reporters are trained, as a matter of course, not to show their emotions while on air. Instead, they are expected to convey information within a limited time. But the live-streaming video I watched was totally opposite. It conveyed her emotions, not information.

It’s been about 7 months since I started broadcasting on Periscope, and I now believe that live streaming video will be the world changer just like homepages.  It is so easy to connect with people literally all over the world and that made me very much interested in their culture and history, and that in turn, let me learn more about our own culture.

I probably did not think about creating this website without my experience on Periscope.

Now that Facebook is pouring much of its resources to promote its live streaming function and YouTube announced its new app for live streaming, it seems to me that they think that their future lies in this particular area. Should you have a stereotyped image that watching live streaming is a waste of time, trust me and download Periscope app to your smartphone and start following some of the recommended accounts.

Seeing is believing 🙂

Etsy’s Translation Project & Who “English Allergy Japanese” Really Are

I love handmade crafts :-). If you have an online shop of your handmade crafts and arts with Etsy, here is a good news: Etsy is currently undergoing translation of their website into Japanese.

You might have heard of so-called “English allergy” of the Japanese. That is, only a small percentage of the Japanese are “confident” enough to communicate in English in day to day situations. They don’t dare to buy anything online unless they can communicate with the online shop in Japanese language. This, in turn, makes business opportunities for “import service providers”.

There are a number of such personal services available for the Japanese. The import service providers basically bridge the language barrier and they do not pitch products to their consumers, which means, here’s the point, those Japanese customers do have English proficiency, good enough to locate what they want, but they balk at dealing with the sellers in English. So, the English allergy of the Japanese, after all, is not the out-and-out situation, but rather confidence issues in practical use, if you ask me.

It seems that Etsy’s translation project is focusing on this particular segment of the Japanese consumers. Once the platform of the website is translated, covering from order placement to troubleshooting, then the Japanese may feel comfortable shopping with Etsy, even though the other information, products and shop owner details, stays as they are in English.

Oh, and of course, the Japanese loves handcrafting, so I’m sure that Etsy is eyeing on that side as well.

Job Hunting and Fairness in Japan

On Your Mark, Set . . . Bang!

That’s how job hunting of Japanese college students starts. All of them are made to wait for the “Bang”, which date is set by Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), a very powerful business association. The date, therefore, is not mandatory, but a consensus made by a group of prime Japanese corporations.

The idea of setting the date comes from the Japanese sense of fairness that all companies have the same chances to employ good students. This is the reason why not just member companies (about 1,300) of Keidanren, but also many others follow suite. It is not too much to say that jumping the bang is like going rogue in the Japanese business arena.

Talking about the Japanese sense of fairness, the new employees fresh out of 4 year colleges will receive the same monthly salary independent of what they are capable of, which college they graduated from, age or their initial positions.

You maybe surprised to hear that “the initial monthly salary” of  each company is made public, and that on their first day of employment, 1st of April, the new employees do not know to which department or position they will be assigned. It is usually finalized after months of orientation and training period.  Here again, on-your-mark-set-bang thing is going on, this time to climb up the corporate ladder.

So you see, the students in the above photo are not actually doing “job” hunting, but rather “company” hunting. My guess is that this company is one of financial sector’s.

Tyhoons and Japan

Tornado alert is one of my memorable experience in Ohio, USA. I even recall the ominous green color of the sky and the tension I felt while we were staying put in the underground level of an apartment building. The warning caught me totally off guard, because I had not been paying attention to the information as local residents do. All I knew about tornados, at that time, were some images of devastated houses.

Thus, here are 5 things that foreign residents and visitors might want to know about typhoons:


1. Tyhoon’s High Season
Between May and October is the high season. Although there are 20 to 30 typhoons born in each year, they rarely hit Japan in early spring and winter.

2. Typical Paths of Tyhoons
When typhoons get close to Japan, they are usually northeast bound and some of them go across the archipelago. The western Japan, especially Okinawa and Kyushu islands are the area most frequently struck by typhoons. On the other hand, Hokkaido, the northernmost major island, is least affected.  Typhoons are usually worn out before they get to the northern region of Japan. Continue reading “Tyhoons and Japan”

“Hai” is the Most Tricky Japanese Word for Westerners

hai-yesThere is a cultural gap so wide between the Japanese and Westerners that neither even know it’s there.  The meaning of “hai” in Japanese is a very good example.

If you think “hai” always means “yes” in the English definition of yes, it could become the beginning of misunderstanding the Japanese people, especially in terms of business relations.

Imagine that you are in the first business meeting in Japan for sales promotion. While you talk in front of  the procurement group, your Japanese counterpart keeps uttering “hai” in Japanese. You know “hai” means “yes” in English, and so you gain a little confidence in your talk and keep talking, while your counterpart keep saying “hai” again. But somewhere down the line, you might find yourself uncomfortable because their only reaction is “hai”. So you decide to put in a joke in order to inject  warmth into your talk…

The Japanese word, “hai” does not necessarily mean “yes”.  It quite often means “I’m listening”, which only implies attentiveness with little implication of affirmation or agreement. There is, however,  an important “cultural” aspect in the Japanese word “hai”.

Continue reading ““Hai” is the Most Tricky Japanese Word for Westerners”