Osaka, Japan - Stefanie Dao
Ireland - Amanda Lawrence
Hillbilly - Nathan Hardy
This document serves as a basic introduction to the Kansai (Japanese), Irish, and Hillbilly cultures for the purpose of providing sufficient information to prepare coworkers for interacting with people and business situations of those cultures.
Although these three cultures are widely separated throughout space, they share a similar history in that they all have been historically, relatively isolated. Because of this isolation, they have developed particular customs and etiquette that should be observed during communication.
Osaka is located to the south and west of Tokyo in the Kansai region of Japan.
Ireland is located to the East of the United Kingdom and is its own stand alone island.
The Hillbilly people live in the southern Appalachian mountain range in the U.S. This is an area that covers many states in the southeast.
Ojigi (bowing): Bowing is extremely important in Japan and the standard method of greeting people. How deep you bow depends on your social standing with the person you are greeting. For example, younger people and people of lesser status must bow more deeply to elders and people of higher status. However, handshakes are becoming more common and may be offered to you as a Westerner ("Etiquette and Behavior in Osaka").
Ohayou gozaimasu [Good morning]
Konnichiwa [Good day/Hello]
Konbanwa [Good evening]
Meishi (business cards) — The exchange of business cards is obligatory at business meetings. Make sure to prepare bilingual business cards, preferably with one side in Japanese. Business cards are presented with both hands and with a bow. Do not immediately put the business cards you receive away; look them over first as a sign of respect. When you finish reading the card, place it on the table and leave it there during the meeting. Place it in your wallet or cardholder when you leave ("Etiquette and Behavior in Osaka").
Omiyage (gifts) — When visiting, it is customary to bring gifts called “omiyage” for exchange. The gifts do not have to be expensive, but should be meaningful (for example, a small item with the logo of your company on it). Choose respectable gift-wrapping. Make sure that the gift is not a set of four, or contains references to the numbers four or nine, due to superstitions, as the pronunciation for the word “four” is the same as the word “death” ("Japan Business Practice”).
Negative questions/answers — Japanese businesspeople are extremely reluctant to answer with “no.” Be careful to phrase questions to avoid having to deal with a situation in which a Japanese coworker may feel obligated to agree, regardless of his or her actual opinions ("Japan Business Practice”).
Laughter and smiles — Smiles are acceptable, but laughter usually indicates embarrassment ("Japan Business Practice”).
“Genki” — “Genki” means to be excited or energetic, and is a state of mind heavily promoted in Japanese workplaces concerning work attitudes. This may seem awkward to Westerners, but is a major part of Japanese culture and business etiquette.
A typical greeting in Ireland would be (Everyday English and Slang in Ireland):
Howya: How are you? (most common)
Hows the form?: How are you?
It is very important to remember to shake hands with everyone that is introduced. Children are included in this as well, because it can be seen as rude to not acknowledge everyone. (“Ireland”). Then go through the same process when the meeting has concluded.
Good eye contact is expected during the handshake. The Irish people will know if they are not given a proper handshake from people. They will note if it is not firm or doesn’t seem genuine.
If you are ever in the Appalachian Mountains, you might find the people to be a little quiet. In fact, these people are known for keeping to themselves. This is most likely because of their Klan-like lifestyle. These people descend from the Scotch-Irish people, who are themselves the same way. These people have very close bonds with the people they are around, but will shun outsiders.
The dialect of Japanese spoken in Osaka is called “Kansai-ben” (referring to the Kansai region) or “Osaka-ben.” Kansai-ben is more than just slang, it is an entire reforming of Japanese grammar. It is considered to be rougher and less polite than the Tokyo dialect (which is considered to be standard Japanese). Although it probably will not be encountered in formal business settings such as meetings, Kansai-ben is commonly used in informal situations. When in doubt of the formality level of a situation, however, refrain from using Kansai-ben as it may come off as rude or coarse-sounding.
As an example of how the Kansai dialect differs from the standard: When verbs are negated in standard Japanese, the typical ending is “-masen” or “-nai.” In Kansai-ben, “-n” or “-hen” may be used.
Common Kansai-ben words that may be encountered in daily situations include:
dame, ikemasen, shimatta
wrong, no good
that’s not it, wrong
The slang used in Ireland differs greatly from American slang, although the same concepts may be found in other culture’s slang. In many cases, the slang words used in Ireland are similar to the slang found in other European countries.
In most business situations, visitors will not need to know the slang or the Gaelic language used there, as it is very common to have English wording below the Gaelic words in signs. It may be a bonus to know some slang words, as it shows that you value their culture. However, Gaelic words can be tricky to pronounce, so below are some easier slang options . There is a list of words that may be encountered in Ireland below (Everyday English and Slang in Ireland).
to walk or move somewhere
The people of the Appalachian Mountains have a style of speech that is very unique to the region. The slower speaking and drawl are known as the Southern accent. As in many parts of the United States, the Hillbilly people have their own slang terms. In fact, the term “hillbilly” is slang itself. Although the actual source of the word is not fully known, it is believed to be the combination of two Scottish terms. “Hill-folk” refers to the people who live in the hills or mountains, and “billie” is similar to “fellow,” “guy,” or “bloke.”
Another slang term for the people of the region is “redneck.” In the early 1900s, many feuds were in the area, many of them union-based. At one point, the fighting was so bad that a small war between the two sides broke out. A group of men from the United Mine Workers of America marched to one of these battles with red bandannas on their necks, and as a result were called “rednecks.” These men were proud to be called rednecks.
Appearance is very important when conducting business in Japan, and so it is probably safer to wear a conventional dark suit, shirt, and tie. For women, business dress should be formal, and trousers are not typically worn.
Take care to keep in mind the varying weather throughout the year. Overcoats and raincoats may be necessary depending on the season. In addition, umbrellas are a vital object in Japan.
Be warned that bright-colored or flashy suits are commonly associated with Japanese gangsters, as are visible tattoos.
Dressing for the meeting is something that should be given close attention in Ireland. The clothing that people wear should be modest as well as conservative. The Irish people in general do not like a lot of bold clothing styles, so bright colors and unprofessional jackets would not go over well in the Irish culture (Brosrock). A good suggestion would be to wear something traditional, like wools and tweed in plain colors.
The weather in Ireland is something that should also be taken into consideration. It can rain at anytime so a raincoat is an item that is essential to be wearing most days. Not wearing a jacket can be seen as poor planning and preparation (Brosrock).
Finally, for men is it appropriate to wear suits or sport coats while it is more common for women to wear skirts or dresses in meetings than it is here in the United States (Brosrock). It isn’t necessary to do so, but less common to wear a full suit.
Poverty has been a problem in this area since people first moved to the region. It is because of this fact you will not see a lot of fancy clothing. As a whole, these are common people who only dress up for church and special occasions.
Common foods in Japan are rice dishes, noodle dishes, fish/seafood, beef, and pork. Osaka in particular is known for okonomiyaki, a type of “savory pancake,” and takoyaki, battered and fried octopus dumplings.
Okonomiyaki: Expect someone to take you out for okonomiyaki while in Osaka. Okonomiyaki literally means “fried as you like it,” and there are many toppings you can choose to put on it. Depending on the restaurant, some places may let you cook your own okonomiyaki, while at others the waitstaff will do it for you. You can also get okonomiyaki in Tokyo, but Osakans will claim Osaka okonomiyaki to be superior.
Other food-related etiquette:
Coworkers commonly go drinking together after work. To put it politely, if going out to drink is something you are expected to do, you do not particularly have a choice in the matter.
Some facts that should be noted about Irish dinners include :
Things that should be remembered when dining in a home is that you should always finish was is served in a home to show gratitude. Not finishing everything that was served can be rude to the host, implying the food was not good. Especially in a home table manners are expected of company, but they are not to the extent that they are in America (Brosrock).
Hillbilly people moved to the mountains shortly after moving to the Americas. These immigrants did not get along well with the people already in the Americas. These Scotch-Irish people decided to move farther inland then anyone else in the country. Once they arrived in the Appalachians, they encountered the Cherokee Indians. After fighting these Indians for their land for many years, the mountain people learned to live off the land like their enemies did. It is because of this fact that mountain people hunt and trap their food, This means they eat a lot of small game. It is easy to hunt and easy to eat. Modern Hillbillies have stores to buy food, but it is not uncommon for these people to still hunt for a meal.
Although religion is not widely practiced in Japan, the country does grant total religious freedom, so many different religions can be found there. The two religions most commonly associated with Japan are Buddhism and Shinto. Buddhism and Shinto are the basis of various traditions and holidays in Japan, such as the traditional New Year’s shrine visit and Obon, a festival to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors. However, according to various surveys, about 70 percent of Japanese claim no personal religion.
Japan does celebrate some holidays like Valentine’s Day and Christmas, but those have been stripped of nearly all religious significance and are secular in nature. Christian-style weddings are also not uncommon, but, again, do not carry any particular religious meaning.
Catholicism is a very big part of Irish life. The Catholic Church once held great control over the country, specifically in politics, but the control that was once had is nothing like what it is today.
In some areas, a divide can be seen between the older generation, which tends to be more conservative in their views, and the younger generation, which grew up after the divide and are much more lenient in their beliefs (“Ireland”). However, religion is still a large part of their lives and society, specifically in regard to how society views families and marriages (“Ireland”).
Most of the people in the Appalachian Mountain area are Christian, and most of them are followers of the Baptist or Pentecostal beliefs. As many as 87 different forms of the Baptist religion alone are thought to be present. The religion that gets the most attention in the area is the Snake Handlers. Founded by George Hensley, the main belief of this religion is based out of the Bible verse, Mark 16:18, that says:
They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
The people of this religion regularly handle dangerous snakes. The belief behind this is that God will protect them from the poison of the snakes. Despite many laws that have been put in place to protect people, many people are still killed each year for these practice.
Holidays which one may encounter while doing business in Japan:
January 1: New Year’s Day
February 14: Valentine’s Day — In Japan, Valentine’s Day is a day when women give chocolate to men. In a business situation, men are likely to receive giri-choco (obligation chocolate) from female coworkers, which is not romantic in nature.
March 14: White Day — The answer to Valentine’s Day, on which men give gifts in return to women who gave them chocolate on Valentine’s Day. Again, the gift does not have to be romantic in nature, but may just be an acknowledgement of social obligations.
Golden Week: April 29 through May 3-5 — Due to a large number of holidays spaced closely together, many companies will often close entirely for the week. It is the longest vacation period for many Japanese jobs.
The holidays listed below are from the “Irish Festival” Internet site and clearly outline the important holidays for the Irish people. They are separated by season as a lot of important dates and holidays are in Europe.
Autumn: Autumn Harvest Festival, Samhain, November Eve, Saint Martin's Day.
Spring: Chalk Sunday, Saint Patrick's Day, Easter, May Day.
Summer: Bonfire Night, Midsummer's Eve, Midsummer's Day, Orange Day Parade, Lughnasa, Puck's Fair.
Winter: Christmas, Saint Stephen's Day, Saint Brigid's Day.
Religious Festivals: Saint Patrick's Day, The Blessing of the Sea and Saint Stephen's Day.
An important thing to note are the religious holidays. Many people may expect specifically St. Patrick’s Day to be similar to how it is in the United States, but this is a very serious holiday in Ireland.
The holidays of the Appalachian people are the same as in the rest of the U.S. The area does not have any special holidays unique to it, but many local festivals celebrate the mountain lifestyle. People of this region are very proud to be from the mountain.
In general, the social atmosphere in Osaka and the Kansai region is considered to be more laid-back than in Tokyo. Tokyo residents view Osakans as being more rough and informal, as well as having good senses of humor (due to the large number of comedians from the Osaka area). Osaka residents generally view people from the Tokyo area as being more polite to the point of being straightlaced.
Keep in mind that Osaka tends to see less foreign business than Tokyo does, so fewer aids for Westerners, such as bilingual signs or announcements that could easily be found in Tokyo, will be present.
On karaoke: Karaoke is very popular in Japan, and is a common after-work or -school activity. Karaoke in Japan often takes place in private rooms, called “karaoke boxes.” Often, food and drink can be ordered while at karaoke, as well.
Other situations can be encountered such as knowing if gifts are appropriate and how to act when you are invited into a home. A few tips are listed below for the situations that I have listed above. These tips are all from a site based of a book written by an author who has specialty in foreign affairs (Brosrock).
In Gift Giving Situations:
Visiting a Home
For many years there has been an illegal market in the Appalachians for Alcohol called Moonshine. This is a very strong alcohol made from corn. After many years of bootlegging this alcohol to the nation, the hillbilly people got a reputation for breaking the law. It is because of these late night bootleggers we now have the sport of NASCAR. Many of the first drivers in the sport started their careers as rum runners and bootleggers. Building fast cars to avoid being caught by the local police.
Today the region has became a hotbed for illegal drugs. In fact a large percentage of the marijuana in the U.S. is grown in the Appalachian mountains. This area also has the highest level of prescription drug abuse in the country.
Annotated Bibliography - Japan
"Doing Business in Japan." World Business Culture. Web. 11 Oct. 2011.
A detailed examination of business culture in Japan. Includes tips on communication, dress code, working in teams, and many other aspects of business etiquette. Highly recommended.
"Etiquette and Behavior in Osaka." AsiaRooms.Com. Web. 11 Oct. 2011.
Contains good information on bowing, dining, and business etiquette. Despite the title of the article, this information is geared more toward Japan in general, rather than Osaka, specifically. A good general overview. Recommended.
"Japan Business Practice and Business Etiquette Tips." Worldwide-Tax.Com. Web. 11 Oct. 2011.
A general overview of business practices and etiquette in Japan. Contains very basic information, but includes important tips concerning Japanese communication that other sites do not cover, such as how Japanese people respond to negative questions and directness. Recommended.
"Japanese Holidays." Japan-guide.com - Japan Travel and Living Guide. Web. 11 Oct. 2011.
A list of Japanese holidays and dates, including links to more detailed information. However, without prior knowledge of these holidays, their varying importance and relation to Japanese society as a whole may not come across easily. Recommended.
"Japanese Slang and Kansai-ben." Exploringtokyo.com. Web. 11 Oct. 2011.
A brief overview of Kansai-ben and Japanese slang. Good for referencing slang words, however, this page does not explain the grammatical changes between standard Japanese and Kansai-ben, and the slang listed may be out of date. Not strongly recommended.
Kanazawa, Mari. "The Difference between Tokyo and Osaka." Watashi to Tokyo. 11 Dec. 2004. Web. 11
Oct. 2011. <http://smt.blogs.com/mari_diary/2004/12/the_difference_.html>.
A blog post about the differences between Tokyo and Osaka. Contains a lot of information on food and dining differences between the two cities, as well as a lot of social stereotypes of both. Interesting to read and useful if one is going to the Kansai region for an extended stay, but not particularly applicable to business settings.
"Kansai Dialect." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. 8 Oct. 2011. Web. 11 Oct. 2011.
Wikipedia article on the Kansai dialect (Kansai-ben). By far the most in-depth article on the history of Kansai-ben, its accent, its grammatical structure, and well-known slang words. Highly recommended, even if only as a jumping-off point toward other references.
Map of Japan. Digital image. LonelyPlanet. Web. 11 Oct. 2011.
A map of the country of Japan, including the major cities.
Map of the Kansai region. Digital image. Japanese Guest Houses. Web. 11 Oct. 2011.
Map of the Kansai region, prefectures, and major cities.
"TOKYO vs OSAKA." GaijinPot Forum. Mar. 2001. Web. 11 Oct. 2011.
Forum thread discussing differences between Tokyo and Osaka. May not be an entirely reliable source and does relay a number of stereotypes about both Tokyo and Osaka, but judging from personal experience, it is accurate. Recommended for those with an existing basic knowledge of Japanese culture and etiquette.
Annotated Bibliography- Ireland
Brosrock, Mary. "Ireland - Cultural Etiquette - E Diplomat." E Diplomat - Global Portal for Diplomats. Global Portal for Diplomats. Web. 01 Nov. 2011. <http://www.ediplomat.com/np/cultural_etiquette/ce_ie.htm>.
This site had a lot of specific information for people who are trying to conduct business in Ireland. This article was created from a book by Mary Brosrock. She created an entire book of information on travel and business and it reads as if she has firsthand experience in these situations.
Everyday English and Slang in Ireland. Web. 01 Nov. 2011. <http://www.irishslang.co.za/irisha_m.htm>.
While this website isn't the most reliable or scholarly article it seems to be made from firsthand experience. Some of the definitions of the words are other slang from Europe, so it is easy to tell that this site uses real information from Europe.
"Ireland." U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State. Web. 01 Nov. 2011. <http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2007/90181.htm>.
This website has very good information on the religion of Ireland. It is a very credible source because the information has been cited from government research. It was very informative about specifics of the religion as well as population numbers.
"Irish Festivals." Welcome to IrishFestivals Net the Home of Everything to Do with Ireland. IrishFestivals.Net. Web. 01 Nov. 2011. <http://www.irishfestivals.net/festivals.htm>.
This site was also not that most academic, but it had every holiday listed on their website. The website made a list of the seasons and listed what each holiday was. I thought this was very interesting because that is the way Irish people can organize their holidays too.