New Year is the most celebrated holiday in Japan. Preparations actually start a week or two before New Year’s Day with a thorough cleaning of the home known at osouji. In addition to cleaning the home, osouji is a symbolic purification of the mind to show respect for the New Year deities.

Although crowds were smaller for the 2021 New Year preparations, many still flocked to markets to buy traditional foods (osechi), and decorations made of straw, pine, and bamboo. These decorations are meant to welcome the New Year deities and ward off evil.

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In an online seminar sponsored by the Alternative Investment Management Association (AIMA), held on December 17, 2020, Hiroshi Okada, Director of the Strategy Development Division of the Japan Financial Services Agency (FSA) talked about Japan’s ongoing bid to attract foreign asset management firms to Japan.

This longtime dream encountered some serious dents earlier this year when Japan’s immigration authorities put the brakes on entry into Japan. Even long-term residents, including those with permanent residence status, spousal visas, or working visas were denied re-entry if they left Japan. A number of these people even had to miss a parent’s funeral, or…

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Who would’ve thought watching a short TV program about coin laundries would be interesting. But, that is what I did last night in Tokyo and it was interesting and I learned several things about coin laundries in Japan.

For example, some of Japan’s laundries have:

Washing machines just for women. Connected to their smart phone by an app, they can make the machine’s window opaque to avoid having men with a fetish for women’s or kids’ underwear (yes, there are a good number of such sickos out there) steal the underwear. …

Photo from JumpStory

The Way to Perfection

Eureka! I have discovered the way to become Perfect. It’s so simple! Why didn’t I think of this before?

Want to know the secret to becoming a Perfect Person? Read on friends, read on.

I generally read emails that arrived overnight while having breakfast. Until my Eureka! moment today, my normal practice was to skim the emails in my spam folder, move any that are legitimate emails to the inbox, then delete the rest. I normally go one step further and delete them from the trash folder too.

Today though, while skimming just the subject lines…

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Everybody likes new things. Japan is no different. During the years I have lived in Japan I’ve lost count of the number of “shinhatsubai” (new product or model) and “shintoujou” (new product in a current lineup of products) advertisements I’ve seen. Advertisements for everything from dishwashing soap to cars.

Now, “thanks” to Covid-19, Japan is on the verge of not only new products, but also new ways of working and living.

The most powerful business lobby in Japan is the Keidanren — the Japan Business Federation. Keidanren is comprised of over 1400 companies and more than 100 industrial associations. This…

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New Year’s resolutions…..pshaw! Bah humbug! Okay, so bah humbug is for Christmas grumps (which I’m not), but there should be a similar phrase for New Year’s resolutions. Here we are, well over a week into the new year of 2020 and how many of your resolutions have you already broken?

Various research studies have concluded that a piddling 8% of resoluters (is that a word?) actually accomplish their resolutions. Fewer than 25% even make it through the first month. So, what’s the resolution solution?

First of all, don’t make New Year’s resolutions! Yep, you…

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Tippity-tap, hear the keyboards clack. Walk into any coffee shop in the San Francisco Bay Area and you’ll see most of the people sitting there tapping away at their laptop keyboards.

Tokyo, my second home and another city by the bay, also has a heavy duty coffee culture and duplicates this tippity-tap keyboard rhythm from the dozens of coffee denizens who occupy the tables, sofas, and counters. But wait a minute — what’s that guy in the corner doing? And what’s that gal in the deep leather chair doing? Why…..they’re sleeping! Does that mean the Japanese coffee crowd has mastered the art of the Coffee Nap?

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I have a friend who always used the euphemism “I’m going to the Toto” whenever he was headed for the men’s room. He called it that because Toto is one of the most famous toilet and urinal makers in Japan. (Toto is the abbreviated version of Tōyō Tōki, which means oriental ceramics.)

Image by Joe

1. Thou shalt hire only bilingual (Japanese — English) speaking staff.

This makes sense, and is usually necessary, if the position reports to someone back in headquarters or in a regional office, and the Japan staff has to communicate with the people overseas on a regular basis.

However, if the position reports to a Japanese manager who in turn reports to the overseas person in English, is fluent or business level English really a necessity or is it a “nice to have skill?” Bear in mind that the person will most likely be working with, calling on, or selling to…

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A Japanese friend told me this joke. “A happy man is a man who lives in an American house, eats Chinese food, and has a Japanese wife.”

The plight of Japanese women in the workforce in Japan is certainly no joke!

Like many countries, Japan has a severe labor shortage. This is causing an increasing number of employers to be more flexible with working hours. According to an article in the Nikkei Asian Review over three quarters of women of prime age for starting a family are now in the workforce. …

Joe Peters

Managing Director of iSearch (, a recruiting and executive search firm in Japan, and has lived in Japan for 30 years.

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