Whether you are a jump-out-of-bed-and-do-ten-pushups kind of person, or you need at least three cups of coffee before you open your eyes fully, getting to work on time should be a major priority. In exchange for your devotion to your job, your office or school will look out for you in a variety of ways. Making sure you are healthy and adjusting well to life in Japan will be a top concern for your coworkers and supervisors.
Tardiness is extremely discouraged in Japanese schools and offices. Reinforcement of this policy seems to be limited to peer pressure, a common force in shaping behavior in Japanese society, but it's effective — people are seldom late for work. Morning meeting times may vary with location. 8:00 or 8:15 A.M. on the dot is a common starting time for schools and government-related offices.
Morning meetings start with everyone standing at their desks. When everyone is ready, the vice principal or office secretary initiates a bow and everyone says O-hayou gozaimasu (“Good morning”) in unison. The date is announced along with any special events going on that day. After the initial greeting, the leader will ask if anyone has any announcements.
When you are a newcomer, and later, when there are other newcomers, you may be asked to give a short self-introduction, or jiko shokai. If there is not much time, you may be limited to just a quick one, hito koto.
Kore kara Buraian-san kara hito koto ga arimasu.
Now, we will have a quick word from Brian.
Buraian-san onegai shimasu.
Brian, please go ahead.
In this situation, simply stating your name followed by a doozo yoroshiku onegai shimasu will suffice. If you are asked to give a jiko shokai, then a more complete self-introduction is appropriate.
If you are working as an English teacher in Japan, your students and maybe some of your colleagues will refer to you as sensei (“teacher”), but you cannot refer to yourself this way and your superiors will not use this term to address you. Even in modern-day Japan, the title of sensei has connotations of great respect, so it would be considered very egotistical to refer to yourself as sensei. If you are indeed an English teacher, you can describe your job by saying Eigo o oshiete imasu (“I'm teaching English”).
Many offices also require group participation in an exercise that is famous throughout Japan: rajio taiso. This is a short routine with various stretches, deep knee-bends, and arm swinging. These exercises are believed to contribute to good health.
Kenkoo no tame ni mai asa rajio taiso o yarimasu.
For our health, we do radio exercises every morning.
The phrase no tame ni identifies the reason or purpose for something. In the previous phrase, kenkoo (“health”) is the reason for performing these calisthenics. Other words can be substituted for kenkoo to create statements about things that are important to you.
Benkyoo no tame ni Nihon ni kimashita.
I came to Japan to study.
Shigoto no tame ni koko ni hikkoshite kimashita.
I moved here because of my job.
Similarly, you can also show that an action is being performed for the sake of a particular person.
O-kaa-san no tame ni mai toshi Amerika ni kaerimasu.
For my mother's sake, I go home to America every year.
Minna no tame ni ganbatte imasu.
I'm trying my best for everyone's sake.
Don't forget about the Japanese custom of giving o-miyage (“souve-nirs”). If you're going to Japan to start a new job, it's best to bring lots of souvenirs from home. Penny stamps, chocolates, lapel pins, and pens or pencils with your town logo on them are just a few ideas for appropriate o-miyage. Your new supervisor can help you determine the number of people needing gifts in your workplace.