• Improving Smash Speed with Lightweight Rackets

    [From January Issue 2015]

    Yonex Co., Ltd
    Badminton is a sport that flourishes in various Asian countries. During his foreign travels in October, 2013, Prime Minister ABE Shinzo presented the Bruneian King with a badminton racket. The gift given at that time was a product made by Yonex Co., Ltd – a company which produces and sells sporting goods.
    At the Thomas Cup (a global men’s team badminton competition) held in May, 2014, the Japanese men’s team won for the first time. In October, the Japanese women’s team became the world’s top ranking team. Many top players use Yonex rackets.
    Yonex was founded in 1946 in Niigata Prefecture under the name Yoneyama Company. Originally they made paulownia wood floats that were used by the fishing industry. However, they withdrew from float production when the materials used to produce them changed from wood to plastic. Around 1957, taking advantage of the badminton boom, they began producing rackets. Niigata Prefecture benefits from easy access to the kind of lumber that is suitable for making rackets with.
    The company has gone through some tough times, including a fire that completely destroyed its factory and a bankruptcy crisis. However, they have diversified to become a sporting goods manufacturer that deals not only in rackets, but also in sports related items such as shoes and uniforms. The company has also concentrated its energies on product development, by developing materials from wood, aluminium, stainless steel, carbon, and more. In particular, the company is enthusiastic about making the most of the cutting edge materials of each era. In addition to badminton, the company also manufactures items related to other sports, including tennis, golf, and snowboarding.
    The development of the Yonex badminton racket reflects the history of weight reduction and the pursuit of increased smash speeds through the adoption of graphite materials. In February 2013, the company created their lightest racket yet; the “Arc Saber FB,” that weighs 73 grams. In September, the Malaysian athlete TAN Boon Heong used the “Nanoray Z-speed” when he set a smash speed record of 493 kilometers per hour initial velocity. Furthermore, the square shaped “isometric form” racket that the company developed in 1980, had a huge impact on the tennis world, which up until then had favored rackets with a round shaped head.
    The company name was changed to Yonex for overseas trading. “We removed a part of ‘Yoneyama,’ because it was difficult for foreigners to pronounce. Instead, we attached an ‘X’ to signify future possibility,” says TAKANO Yuzo of Yonex’s publicity department. This name reflects the company’s desire to create lighter and faster products in the future. Yonex has many contracts with sales agents throughout the world. The Yonex Cups for badminton and tennis are also held to make a contribution to the promotion of sport.
    Photos courtesy of Yonex Co., Ltd
    Text: ITO Koichi[2015年1月号掲載記事]

    ヨネックスのバドミントンラケットの開発はカーボン素材の採用による軽量化とスマッシュスピードの追求の歴史でもあります。2013年2月に「アークセイバーFB」が同社最軽量の73グラムを実現。9月には、マレーシアのタン・ブンホン選手が「ナノレイ Z-スピード」を使い、初速で時速493キロメートルというスマッシュスピードを記録しました。また、1980年に同社が開発した「アイソメトリック形状」の四角い形のラケットは、それまで丸型が主流だったテニス界に大きな衝撃と変化をもたらしました。

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  • Improving Japanese Ability by Being the Only Non-Japanese in the Workplace

    [From January Issue 2015]

    Lewis Winglam PONG
    “I started studying Japanese when I came to Japan in September, 2013. I took the N3 (Japanese Language Proficiency) examination in December and passed. I took N2 in July, this year, and passed again. This month I took N1,” says Lewis Winglam PONG, from Hong Kong. In 2013 he began working at the Japanese head office of Sojitz Cooperation. Now he is working as an investment advisor in the structured finance division.
    Pong majored in risk management and finance at Hong Kong University. Then, he went to study finance and management at a graduate school in the U.K., staying on to do an internship for two months. Before long, he got anxious about his parents and returned to Hong Kong, where he started job hunting. Then, he bumped into a friend who was employed by Sojitz who told him about working conditions there.
    “What impressed me was that the company was hiring people who were not able to speak Japanese at all and giving them six months intensive Japanese instruction,” recalls Pong. Pong did some research into Sojitz. Learning that the company was a general trading company of a type unique to Japan, and that it was doing businesses in various fields around the world, he was intrigued.
    “I became curious about Japan, too. Japan is poor in natural resources and suffers from many natural disasters, such as earthquakes. Despite suffering heavy damage in World War II, Japan regenerated itself in only a few decades to become the second biggest economy in the world,” says Pong.
    Pong applied for a job at Sojitz and was hired. There, he received intensive Japanese instruction. “During the first three months, I received lessons to prepare for the N3 test in the morning at Waseda University and studied in a group of two to three people with one Japanese language teacher in the afternoon. Over the next three months, I studied with a Japanese language teacher in the morning and did on-the-job training, in other words learning Japanese from my colleagues while we worked.”
    “Since I’m surrounded by Japanese people at work and the majority of business is in done in Japanese, it’s quite a challenge. For instance, at meetings, everybody speaks quietly and it’s sometime hard for me to catch what they’re saying. There were occasions when I could finally understand what the meeting was about after reading the minutes afterwards. In Hong Kong and the U.K., people try to show how confident they are by expressing their opinions in a loud voice, but in Japan it is a virtue to speak modestly. Also, when you have an objection, rather than say ‘I object,’ it’s customary in Japan to mention the reasons against it,” says Pong, smiling wryly.
    He also had trouble with honorific expressions. “It is much more complicated than in Cantonese. In Japan you have to adjust your level of respect depending on whether you are talking to your manager or to a senior colleague. With people outside your company, you have to use another set of expressions. Honorific expressions used for communicating with them change according to which side is asking for a favour. Now, however, I naturally produce honorifics whenever I feel a sense of respect,” he says.
    “I am hooked on snowboarding, which I started doing last year. I’m also enjoying golf,” says Pong, discussing his private life. “I used to think that if I’d gotten a job in Hong Kong, I wouldn’t have had such language difficulties. But now I feel that through studying Japanese I have widened my job opportunities. If I improve my Japanese, I’ll be given greater responsibility at work.”
    Sojitz Cooperation
    Text: SAZAKI Ryo[2015年1月号掲載記事]


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  • Bygone Days Still Beautiful

    [From January Issue 2015]

    Honey and Clover
    Set in an art school, this work depicts the exploits of a group of young people who are awkwardly falling in love while trying to puzzle out their own futures. The series started in 2000, and was completed in 2006 after twice switching to different magazines. The animated cartoon televised in 2005 was so popular that a sequel was made the following year, and movie and TV drama adaptations have also been produced.
    Along with his friends, who are attending the same school, TAKEMOTO Yuta lives a carefree life in a rundown apartment. One day he meets a young woman called HANAMOTO Hagumi. Due to enter art school the following academic year, she is on her way to visit her relative, the lecturer HANAMOTO Shuji. Takemoto falls in love the moment he sees Hagumi. However, at the same time, MORITA Shinobu, his senior, is also attracted to Hagumi.
    Bowled over by Hagumi, who works on her art as if possessed, Takemoto gradually falls in love. Hagumi is blessed with an innate artistic talent, while Morita’s talents extend even beyond the artistic sphere, so the two are naturally drawn to each other. Takemoto, who considers himself to be mediocre, has an inferiority complex, so his heart is shaken by conflicting feelings of admiration and frustration towards the two.
    Takemoto gradually realizes that Hagumi is experiencing a lot of pressure and is feeling isolated. Because she’s been praised for her talents from a young age, her classmates keep their distance from her, so until she meets Takemoto, she has no friends. Rather than force his feelings onto her, Takemoto decides to watch over Hagumi. In order to regain what she was unable to acquire before, Hagumi makes wonderful memories with Takemoto and friends.
    Their limited school days draw to a close. While those around him choose their future careers, Takemoto’s job search falters and he buckles under the stress. In the end he repeats the year, postponing his graduation. When he finally obtains a promise of employment, the company goes bankrupt, so a brooding Takemoto sets off on an aimless bicycle trip. After spending a long period traveling, Takemoto sorts out his feelings and returns to his friends. And, though knowing that he will be rejected, he confesses his feelings to Hagumi.
    Having considered Takemoto to be a close friend, Hagumi is perplexed. Additionally, just before graduation, a tragic event befalls Hagumi. Both Takemoto and Morita reach out to support Hagumi, but the decision that Hagumi arrives at massively alters her relationship with them.
    The suffering caused by being unable to let someone know you like them and the angst that comes from being unable to visualize one’s own future are experiences anyone can identify with. Both for those people who hold something dear to their heart and for those who never look back, there is meaning in time spent together. This is what this story teaches us.
    Text: HATTA Emiko[2015年1月号掲載記事]


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  • 不屈の精神を持つ日本人とポーランド人

    [From Decemberber Issue 2014]

    Wife of the Republic of Poland Ambassador to Japan
    “Poland has been through hard times in history; the territory was carved up by other countries and we suffered tremendous damage in WWII,” says Iwona KOZACZEWSKA. “We’ve nevertheless managed to rebuild and develop. The Poles are a nation that unites in adversity and can cooperate and strive for reconstruction. I believe we share this national character trait with Japanese. Our two peoples also have a similar sensitivity to music. The Polish musician Fryderyk CHOPIN is popular in both countries.”
    Kozaczewska came to Japan in August 2012. “I was surprised by the heat and humidity of Japan’s summer. In Poland, the temperature in summer can rise close to 30°C, but it’s dry and pleasant,” she says. “I also had a hard time in Japanese cities because few streets have names. The subway at the beginning was very complicated, too.”
    “When I get lost and open a map, however, a Japanese person immediately speaks to me to help me out,” Kozaczewska says with a smile. “Just the other day, I got lost while trying to walk on my own to the nearest station from our embassy. Almost immediately, a young Japanese lady offered me her assistance in getting to the station,” says Kozaczewska. “That kind of hospitability, too, reminds me of Poland.”
    She has no difficulty as far as Japanese food is concerned. “Japanese food is great. I love soy sauce, okonomiyaki and miso soup. My husband always laughs because I get hungry and want to eat something as soon as we go out,” says Kozaczewska. “I often go to a conveyor belt sushi restaurant in Shibuya with my two daughters and I really enjoy the choice of ingredients. I was warned by many friends to be careful with nattou as its taste and smell are too much for non-Japanese to handle, but I thought it was interesting to taste it.”



    She has no difficulty with raising her children in Japan, either. “In whatever country we are in, what we should teach and what we should tell them are the same,” says Kozaczewska. “It is also wonderful that they are having this opportunity to actually experience such an exciting country as Japan.”
    Kozaczewska often travels around Japan with her family. “When we went to Hokkaido, one of our daughters was delighted. She said it was as if we were in Poland. The climate and landscape did indeed resemble our country,” says Kozaczewska.
    “Last year, our family traveled to Hiroshima and Nagasaki to attend the A-bomb commemoration ceremonies. We learned about the tragedies caused by the atomic bombs and while traveling, we saw aspects of Japan – like the Japanese way of life – that you wouldn’t find in guide books. We decided to go there by car so that we could explore as many places in Japan as possible. The trip was long, but very meaningful,” she says. “Our daughters were happy that we stopped by Iga, the ninja town. Our elder daughter was particularly interested because she is called Iga herself.”
    Japan has a lot of wonderful things that I’d like to take home to Poland: Japanese discipline and politeness; the attachment to tradition; beautiful kimono… Bonsai look spectacular. I’m also attracted to the beauty of pine trees. I found the ones at the Imperial Palace particularly fantastic. If I took home everything I liked in Japan, I’d be stopped at customs because there’s just too much,” she says smiling.


    Tatra Mountains

    “On the other hand, what I’d like to bring to Japan from Poland is food,” says Kozaczewska with a smile. “We presented Polish donuts, soup and smoked goat cheese at the recent Polish Festival at Roppongi Hills. They sold out right away. They are hard to find in Japan, so you should definitely eat them if you travel to Poland,” she says.
    “I’m sure Japanese nature lovers will like Poland,” says Kozaczewska. “Poland still has primeval forest where European bison and storks live. The forests are full of mushrooms, so you can enjoy gathering them. In the Lake District, you can take boat cruises from lake to lake, as well as go fishing.”
    “You can enjoy yachting and cruising on the northern Baltic coast, which is also known for its beautiful white beaches. The sand is so fine that even patterns created by the wind are beautiful. A lot of amber nuggets wash ashore on its beaches. As a child, I used to pick them up to present to my grandmother,” she says nostalgically.
    “Poland also has lots of things of cultural interest,” says Kozaczewska. “Lazienkowski Park in the capital of Warsaw has the Palace on the Water as well as a famous statue of Chopin. Concerts are often held there. Many historical wooden churches are preserved in Małopolska and the Carpathians as they are listed as World Heritage Sites.”


    Palace on the Water in Lazienki Park

    “In the old capital of Krakow, there’s a museum of Japanese art and technology called ‘Manggha.’ Japanese comics are very popular with young people in Poland, too, but the Manggha of that museum has a different meaning,” says Kozaczewska, laughing. “Feliks JASIENSKI collected Japanese art, including ukyoe. He liked to be called by the nickname Manggha. The museum came to be called Manggha because it contains his collection. The film director Andrzej WAJDA, who’s known to be a Japanophile, was heavily involved with the construction of that museum.”
    “Additionally, Wroclaw in southwestern Poland has a Japanese-style garden. As you can see, Poland has a lot of attractions and things related to Japan, so please come and visit. Our economic development in recent years has been remarkable and the streets are full of life,” says Kozaczewska.
    “I would advise those foreigners studying the Japanese language to spend as much time as possible in Japan,” says Kozaczewska. “Japan has so many sides to it that it’s impossible to see everything in a short time. They should not only see the skyscrapers, Shibuya and tourist spots that are often shown on TV, they should also explore the back streets on foot. They’ll see that exotic Japanese scenes really exist, scenes that Europeans have seen only in children’s books.”
    Photos courtesy of the Polish Embassy’s Tourism Office
    Text: SAZAKI Ryo[2014年12月号掲載記事]





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  • 高い技術で日本の美意識を表現した紙皿

    [From Decemberber Issue 2014]

    WASARA Co., Ltd.
    With the goal of creating high quality plates and utensils that are disposable yet stylish, WASARA was created of in 2008. Because of their unique high quality designs and environmental friendliness, WASARA plates were used at an opening event of the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit as soon as they were launched on the market. Since then, the plates have been prized for their ability to make any dish look appealing, and they are now even used at Michelin-starred restaurants.
    The most important feature is the way the range of 18 items – which includes plates, cups and utensils – goes so well together. Speaking about various inquiries the company receives from its customers, SHIMA Shinako, brand manager of WASARA Co., Ltd., says, “I realized the hospitality industries had been looking for disposable tableware that compliments the cuisine served on it.”
    Designs are simple but, through attention to detail, they show off food to its best advantage. Pulp is pressed into a mold that has a ridged surface giving the finished product the feel of washi (Japanese craft paper), and the plates are cut in such a way that the edge is beautifully finished. Fulfilling such specifications requires a high level of craftsmanship. To develop these unique paper plates, technical help was brought in from sources that usually have no connection to the manufacturing of paper plates; such as from factories that usually produce molds for screws used in cars.
    WASARA’s parent company, Itokei Co., Ltd., manufactures and sells containers for desserts and ice cream. In the days preceding Itokei’s 100th anniversary, management thought about what direction the company should take in the future and decided to create high-value-added products that could be passed down to future generations.
    Plates and bowls are made of bagasse – fibrous matter that remains after the juice is squeezed out of sugarcane – and also of bamboo, which is known for being a fast-growing plant. WASARA’s utensils are made of bamboo. So that they can be returned to the earth after use, they aren’t laminated. If you put them into a compost container, they can be reused as compost.
    Compared with Japan, there are more opportunities abroad for catering and parties, so in the first four years subsequent to the launch of WASARA’s products, exports exceeded domestic sales. These products are currently on sale at nearly 100 shops overseas, mostly in the West. Shima, however, analyzes the situation with a level head, saying, “There are challenges to overcome, such as the issue of distribution costs due to rising oil prices.”
    A set of six medium-sized plates costs 540 yen (including tax), not exactly reasonable compared with regular paper plates. But sales in Japan have been increasing, too. According to Shima, one of the reasons they are selling well is that more and more people actually use them and appreciate their value. The product’s strongest selling point is its eco-friendliness and its additional value of being a disposable item that incorporates a design that makes dishes look delicious.
    WASARA Co., Ltd.
    Text: ICHIMURA Masayo[2014年12月号掲載記事]


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  • 浅草六区ゆめまち劇場

    [From Decemberber Issue 2014]

    This restaurant theater opened in April this year. Wahaha Hompo, a troupe known for its eccentric costumes and performances is now giving its first performance of Gorakuza” (Entertainment Theater) – an original work specially made for the theater. (Admittance: 4,500 yen. On top of this customers must order at least one drink.) Including characters and music that will even be familiar to non-Japanese, this is a show that everyone can enjoy. In addition there is a permanent exhibition of Asakusa’s streets reproduced on panels and in dioramas, the “Secret Hideout of About 100 Square Meters” (costs 500 yen), and screenings of movies associated with the town (1,000 yen).
    Access: Four-minute walk from the A1 exit of Taharacho Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line
    Address: ROX1F Entrance, 1-25-15 Asakusa, Taito Ward, Tokyo
    Business hours: 9:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. (depending on the program)
    Asakusa Rock Yumemachi Theater
    Text: KAWARATANI Tokiko[2014年12月号掲載記事]

    所在地:東京都台東区浅草1-25-15 ROX1F専用入口

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  • サイゼリヤ

    [From Decemberber Issue 2014]
    “Italian Wine & Cafe Restaurant Saizeriya” have over 1,000 branches both in Japan and overseas. The interiors are decorated in an Italian style and wines, olive oil and cheeses are imported from Italy. Even if they eat there every day, customers never tire of the simple seasoning and reasonable prices. Easily complimenting the main dishes, the soups, side dishes, wine, and soft drinks are particularly good value. In addition to Italian food, gratin, hamburger steaks, and more, are also on the menu.

    [No. 1] Doria (baked rice and cheese gratin-style) Milanese, 299 yen

    One third of customers order this. Building on 40 years of ongoing research, the dish has been repeatedly improved upon. The rich meat sauce and white sauce is popular.

    [No. 2] Shrimp Salad, 299 yen

    Salad topped with tender deep-water shrimps. After being harvested, the lettuce is kept at a temperature of four degrees centigrade and is chopped before being delivered to restaurants.

    [No. 3] Spicy Hot Chicken, 299 yen

    After being dipped in sauce, the chicken is seasoned with an original blend of spices. It’s popular for its juiciness and crispy texture. Since it has a mild taste, children can eat it, too.
    Price includes tax.

    「イタリアンワイン&カフェレストラン サイゼリヤ」は海外を含め千店舗以上を展開。店内の内装やインテリアはイタリア風になっており、ワイン、オリーブオイル、チーズなどは現地から輸入している。毎日食べてもあきないよう、味付けはシンプルに、手頃な価格で提供しているのが特徴。特にスープ、おつまみ、ワイン、ドリンクバーはメインの料理と組合せやすいように価格設定されている。イタリア料理に限らず、グラタンやハンバーグなどのメニューもある。

    【No.1】ミラノ風ドリア 299円


    【No.2】小エビのサラダ 299円


    【No.3】辛味チキン 299円


    Price includes tax.

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  • 世界中の人を落語で楽しませたい

    [From Decemberber Issue 2014]

    KATSURA Kaishi, Rakugo-ka
    In Japan there is a comic form of entertainment called “rakugo” (comic storytelling) which has been around for approximately 400 years. It features one person portraying many different characters. The storyteller sits down on a cushion and spins a tale using only a tenugui (Japanese thin towel) and a sensu (folding fan) as props. The performer is called a rakugo-ka (comic storyteller) and in theaters that specialize in rakugo in Tokyo and Osaka, performances take place every day.
    Based in Kansai, KATSURA Kaishi continues to translate and perform classic rakugo stories in English. Since 1998, he has successfully performed over 300 times in 97 cities in 17 countries worldwide. “I started this partly because I loved English and longed for a chance to study abroad. My master (the late KATSURA Bunshi V) generously gave his permission, even though it was shortly after I had completed my apprenticeship.”
    “At the outset, even in Japanese, I only had seven or eight stories in my repertoire,” says Kaishi. But now, after receiving many awards including the Ministry of Culture Rookie of the Year Award, and the NHK Japan National Television Award for Young Artists, he is beginning to gain acknowledgment for his abilities in Japan. Subsequently, he was appointed as the cultural ambassador of the Agency for Cultural Affairs and went on a six-month English rakugo tour in the United States.
    “Driving the camper van myself, I toured around 33 cities with my family. In rakugo, movement – for example miming eating with chopsticks with a sensu or sewing with tenugui – is more important than words. It was very difficult to explain to local staff that it is typically performed on a high platform called a kouza (stage) so that the entire body is visible. They said that it was too dangerous and I had to sign a written waiver that said I would not sue even if I were injured.
    “I was worried when I visited the township of the Native Indian Navajo tribe and was told that these people rarely laugh. When I tried a kobanashi (short story) about Monument Valley, there was applause and laughter from the audience and the rakugo also got a huge laugh. I was very pleased that people who knew nothing of Japan or rakugo enjoyed it,” he continues.
    Performing as part of a group, I took part in the “Edinburgh Festival,” the world’s largest drama festival, in August this year. The performance, which brought to mind a “Japanese Cirque du Soleil,” consisted of physical performances, including Japanese dance, taiko (Japanese drums), and aerial dance, combined with CGI.
    “The production shows how sake is created; in the role of the touji (the person in charge of a sake brewery), I was MC for the whole performance. Before the rakugo, I appeared in front of the audience with a sake bottle in my hand and gestured for them to have a drink; I was very nervous, since it was a new experience for me.” It got the highest five star rating from the “British Theater Guide” and was highly praised by the fair and exacting local media.
    With his English rakugo, Kaishi has continued to break out of the rakugo sphere, by collaborating with other art forms, including bunraku (Japanese puppet theatre). “Whether it be Japan or abroad, I’d like to go anywhere where I can give pleasure with my rakugo. I’d like my dream to study drama in London to come true, too,” he says with a radiant smile.
    Office Beginning
    Text: KAWARATANI Tokiko










    「酒が誕生する様子を表した作品です。杜氏(酒の製造過程を取り仕切る役目)役で、全体の進行係でした。落語の前に酒瓶を持って客席から現れて、お客さんにお酒を勧める仕草をしたりしましたが、初めての経験だったので最初は緊張しましたね」。イギリス舞台専門雑誌「British Theater Guide」で最高評価の五つ星を獲得し、公平で厳しい現地メディアから大絶賛されました。




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  • ワンストップ型店舗で最適な車生活を提案

    [From Decemberber Issue 2014]

    Autobacs Seven Co., Ltd.
    A s well as carrying out mandatory vehicle inspections and maintenance, Autobacs Seven Co., Ltd. sell, install and change car parts. The company was originally a wholesale dealer in car parts. However, in order to get new business ideas, founder SUMINO Toshio visited the US to take a look at the distribution business there. During that visit he was bowled over when he saw one-stop shops that not only sold all kinds of car parts, but installed them and carried out repairs in the same location.
    In those days tires, oil and batteries were sold separately in specialized shops in Japan. Customers therefore had to visit several shops to buy the parts and products they wanted. Convinced that the customer-friendly one-stop business style would be welcomed in Japan, Sumino opened his first Autobacs shop in November 1974 in Daito City, Osaka Prefecture.
    Sumino came up with a striking company name to call attention to this revolutionary new business style. The first two letters in Autobacs represent the company’s philosophy, while the remaining six represent the range of products on offer. A stands for appeal, U for unique, T for tires, O for oil, B for batteries, A for accessories, C for car electronics, and S for service.
    The company name is Autobacs Seven, but the name of the store is Autobacs. “Seven” signifies the continuing search for a seventh product line. The orange corporate color stands out even at a distance and represents a pioneering spirit and Californian orange. It’s also influenced by the image of the American sunshine seared into Sumino’s eyes.
    The company’s three bestselling products are “studless tires,” “tire chains,” and “car cleaning supplies.” Studless tires are a must for safe driving in regions such as Hokkaido, Tohoku and Hokuriku where there is a great quantity of snow. There is more demand for chains for emergency use when there is heavy snow in and around large cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Car cleaning supplies sell more in early spring when the air is filled with cedar pollen and yellow dust from mainland China.
    ONODA Kenichi of the PR department stresses, “We are second to none in that we have one of the largest shop networks in Japan, a high brand recognition, a comprehensive product lineup, excellent service, and a team of professionals.” Each shop strives to be customer-friendly by displaying products according to their use and by using integrated signage.
    Autobacs attaches importance not only to its products and services, but also to customer service. In order to avoid any unpleasantness, customers are treated well and provided with satisfactory products. Staff are trained on the importance of personal grooming, smiling, eye contact, greetings, polite phrasing, and bowing. “We work hard to maintain and improve our Autobacs brand,” says Onoda.
    Autobacs Seven Co., Ltd.
    Text: ITO Koichi[2014年12月号掲載記事]


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  • 日本のアイドルがきっかけで日本へ

    [From Decemberber Issue 2014]

    “I like Japanese idols,” says Rassawan KONDEJADISAK, describing the interest that brought her over from Thailand to Japan. “I especially like Johnny’s ‘Hey! Say! JUMP’ When I was watching their concerts on TV programs and DVDs, I felt I wanted to study Japanese because I wanted to understand what they were saying.”
    Rassawan came to Japan in 2011 and without delay entered Yokohama Design College. Although the school specializes in design, they also have a Japanese language course aimed at foreign students. Rassawan, who had not studied Japanese before, started with the basic reading and writing of “a, i, u, e, o.”
    “I did not understand any Japanese,” says Rassawan. “I could not read books nor magazines and I could not understand what they were talking about on TV. At first I was quite worried because I could not even manage basic conversation. But by continuing with my studies, I gradually became able to understand Japanese and that made things surprisingly enjoyable.”
    “Now I can read books that I could not! I can understand conversation that could not! Before I knew it, the uneasiness in my heart changed to joy. I wanted to study more and more every day and I wanted to know more about things I was ignorant of.”
    “Although three years have passed since I started to live in Japan, there are still many things I cannot understand about the Japanese sensibility. Why do I have to do this? Why don’t I have to do that? Sometimes it is a mystery to me. There are some similarities to the Thai way of thinking, but other things are totally different.”
    “I felt uneasy when I became a fully paid up member of Japanese society. But I don’t want to limit myself to just Japan and Thailand, I want to understand the feelings of people in other countries, too.” Rassawan is now doing PR work at Relation Japan., Inc., promoting Japan to Thailand. The company produces advertisements for Japan in various media, including travel magazines and TV, it also operates booths at travel fairs. Rassawan is in charge of design and of communication with Thailand.
    “Japan is a country that places importance on public order. It is quite different from Thailand, which has an easy-going attitude. But I am really happy because the people of both countries are kind hearted.” On her days off, she often goes to Shibuya, Harajuku, and Omotesando. “I enjoy going to stylish cafes. I like reading books in such places. And, of course, in the concert season I go to concerts!”


    「私は日本のアイドルが好きです」とタイから来たラッサワン・コンデッチアディサックさんは日本に興味を持ったきっかけを話します。「特にジャニーズの『Hey! Say! JUMP』というグループが大好きです。テレビ番組やDVDでコンサートを見ているとき、彼らが何を話しているのか知りたくて、日本語を勉強したいと思いました」。
    「今まで読めなかった本が読める! わからなかった会話がわかる! 心の中にあった不安感がいつの間にか楽しさに変わりました。毎日もっと勉強したくて、知らないことをもっと知りたいと思いました」。

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