Funny Business: An Outsider's Year in Japan

Yesterday i went to the Japan Foundation (JFKL) at Midvalley Northpoint Level 18 Block B, came across this book which is really interesting, this depicts the frustrations of foreigners living in Japan. Katzenstein went to Japan as a Luce Foundation Scholar to study Japanese management at Sony a few years ago. Related with considerable humor, but also with growing criticism (Katzenstein eventually loses his position at Sony because he attempts to meet with the company’s top executive and founder to discuss the meaningless nature of the work he has been assigned), this serves as an excellent introduction to the problems Japan can present for the outsider. A series of concluding remarks offer a challenge to many of the commonly held assumptions regarding Japanese management techniques and the nature of the “economic miracle.” Overall, an entertaining if sometimes embittered discussion.

Funny Business: An Outsider's Year in Japan - Gary J. Katzenstein
Funny Business: An Outsider's Year in Japan - Gary J. Katzenstein

Some funny business..

  • The couple who are in charge of the hostel forbid him to put his clothes into his colleague’s closet eventhough it’s vacant because his closet is already full, rules is rules according to the them and must follow no matter what.
  • During lunch time, males are seated with their own gender, they are not allow to sit with female. Meaning to say, you will have same group of lunch buddies everytime!.
  • Japanese husband must stay back and if they come home early, it’s a shameful act if seen by their neighbours.
  • If you arrive late to work eg: 8.45 am when your company starts work exactly at 8.30 am, the entrance door will be closed and your supervisor have to come down and open the door for you.
  • You have a few cards given to you to place on your desktop. Place the “toilet” card on your table if your heading to the toilet.

It’s really funny when you first read this book, it’s a culture shock for me!

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