Posts Tagged ‘corporate culture’

New dishes on company cafeteria menus

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Cleverly promoting their health devices, Marunouchi Tanita Shokudo is capitalizing on the manufacturer's popular book of cafeteria recipes.

Offering cheap, filling staples like curry rice and bowls of noodles, the company shokudo (canteen) in Japan is not generally a place that has foodies waxing lyrical. But ever since Marunouchi Tanita Shokudo opened for business in January and started attracting press for its healthy nutritious meals, there’s been an increasing interest taken in what’s on offer at the company shokudo.

Offering the same dishes as served at Tanita’s cafeteria, Marunouchi Tanita Shokudo serves a low-calorie but tasty menu. The restaurant was opened in response to the success of a recipe book of company canteen dishes published last year. Tanita manufactures bathroom scales and other health devices and is able to use the restaurant as a showroom for its products to health-conscious customers. Visitors to the restaurant can get free dietary advice from nutritionists.

The success of Marunouchi Tanita Shokudo has sparked media interest in the humble company shokudo and a recent set of tours offered by LUXA, a website that sells luxury experience coupons, has allowed a select few members of the public and press to take a sneak peek inside some rather upscale company cafeterias. Recent tours of the canteens of Microsoft and cosmetics manufacturer Pola have shown that these companies are putting on a spread beyond the usual cheap and filling fare.

Microsoft, featured in Tokyo Bargain Mania, has the One Microsoft Cafe on the 19th floor of their new offices in Shinagawa. With its splendid view, the upscale space resembles a luxurious hotel lounge more than a dining hall. The menu is rather sophisticated too offering dishes like “chicken fried in basil with tomato paprika sauce” or “cream cheese mince cutlet.” Despite the swankiness, the prices are extremely reasonable with a main meal and side dish going for around just ¥680. After meals staff can lounge in sofas nearby to enjoy a coffee or a chat.

The latest tour held was at cosmetics company Pola in Gotanda and was featured on J-Cast. Though Pola’s cafeteria predictably serves items such as curry rice, each item is made to be rich in dietary fiber and potassium. The cafeteria also has a unique anti-aging menu on offer every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month that includes dishes such as “clams, bamboo shoots and rice with mackerel sauce” and “tea jelly.”

Dishes containing collagen are purported to be good for the skin and have been popular for several years, so we’re wondering whether the folks at Pola might not be considering publishing a shokudo book of their own, filled with anti-ageing recipes. We’re also keen to see whether other company shokudo will follow their example.

Women sound off on Super Cool Biz fashions

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Where are the lines drawn with super cool biz fashions?

This summer, encouraged by the government’s Super Cool Biz campaign, Japanese men are daring to bare a bit more flesh. As neckties and heavy blazers are discarded, almost anything goes, and many braver businessmen are now sporting calf-length trousers, polo shirts and “aloha shirts.” For the first time female colleagues are seeing their male coworkers in a whole new light, but according to a poll by Nikkei Woman Online, there’s a fine line to be drawn between kakui (cool) and kakkowarui (unattractive).

The poll, published in Nikkei Trendy, reveals that too much flesh in the office can be a bad thing. Revealing tank tops were the most objectionable office-fashion item, with 90 percent of 409 respondents rating this “NG” (thumbs down). Shorts came in a close second, at around 80 percent NG. While most women did not object to plain short sleeve shirts, if the material is sheer, around 60 percent of respondents preferred men to wear a vest underneath to cover up exposed nipples and chest hair.

Continue reading about super cool biz fashions →

Japan Inc. testing the Twitter waters

Monday, March 8th, 2010

A cafe in Roppingi Hills urges passersby to follow its Twitter account: @hillscafespace

A cafe in Roppingi Hills urges passersby to follow its Twitter account: @hillscafespace

A year ago, Japan made up only 0.7 percent of Twitter’s global population. Over the course of 2009, however, estimates show the number of users in Japan grew by six to 10 times, with the current number standing somewhere around 4.5 million people. Japanese is now the second most-used language on the network after English – some 14% of of the 50 million tweets per day worldwide are in Japanese.

Naturally, much of that is the usual chitchat and link-sharing, but Japanese corporations and organizations are playing with the potential for word-of-mouth exposure, PR and retail growth. For smaller companies, Twitter allows them to bypass traditional channels and hawk their wares directly to consumers. The majors are using the micoblogging format to widen their reach and project a friendlier, more casual image.

Although Asian Fortune 100 companies lag behind the U.S. and Europe in sheer numbers of corporate Twitter accounts, those that are tweeting average more followers per account. And hundreds of Japanese companies are jumping on the bandwagon.

Many are taking tsubuyaku, the Japanese verb of choice for tweeting, rather literally. The word means mutter or murmer, and that is just what many seem to be doing, often to tens of thousands of followers.  While some big-name retailers, such as Muji, are announcing Twitter-only sales, others seem to be aiming simply to foster camaraderie and boost engagement through the so-called “casual tweet.” Udon chain Katokichi sends out personalized replies to messages about the noodle dish. Hamburger chain Mos Burger has about 30,000 followers on Twitter, but with a large portion of its posts commenting on the weather and the time of day, it’s not exactly pushing the hard sell. Tsutaya predictably sends followers  movie recommendations, but mixes those with chatter and quickie film quizzes, like “What was the name of the Jedi weapon in the Star Wars movies?”  Some restaurants, like are giving discounts to customers who tweet about their meal there on a sliding scale based on the number of followers the tweeter has.

Continue reading about Twitter and business in Japan →

Pulse Rate: 社畜 (shachiku)

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

This week we launch Pulse Rate, where we look at online cardiographs and measure the EKG of the Japanese internet via the keywords ranking high in the search-engine charts and elsewhere. Will they be only brief blips or signs of bigger things to come? Only time will tell.

社畜.COM. exploded to the top of Goo’s Keyword Rankings this week, debuting at No. 2 this past Sunday and topped only by actress Sei Ashina (lead actress in the soon-to-be-released movie version of the manga “Saru Lock”). The site is a Japanese internet meme based on the invented word shachiku (社畜). Shachiku is a combination of kaisha (会社, company) and kachiku (家畜, domestic animal/beast of burden) – in other words, “corporate cattle.”

syachiku graph

Some poor soul on the brink of becoming branded

The term was originally coined by “business novelist” Satoshi Azuchi, whose most well-known novel is “Supermarket,” a somewhat autobiographical story of managerial intrigue at a supermarket. Economic commentator Makoto Sataka took Azuchi’s term and popularized it in his columns for Japanese weekly Shuukan Kinyoubi. The shachiku site was an instant hit after its launch in June 2009 and widely covered in the Japanese blogosphere.

The site itself is a short quiz that determines “How much of a corporate drone have you become?  Site visitors have to answer 30 yes-no questions, such as “Do you have to do unpaid overtime?,” “Are you forced to go drinking after work?,” and “Does your boss give you a funny look when you ask to take paid leave?”

After answering the questions, users are given a graph that maps their drone-ness. I ended up with 42% drone-ness, which indicates that I am “in danger of becoming corporate cattle very shortly (そろそろ社畜化しそうです).” The site then offers links to books such as “Kotowaru Chikara” (断る力,” “The Power to Refuse”) and other self-help guides for those unable to change the inertia of their miserable situation.

Continue reading about shachiku →

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