business

Want to be an animator in Japan? Brace yourself for long hours, poverty as you start your career

To many anime fans, working in the industry itself seems like a dream job. The chance to spend all day immersed in the medium they love, helping to add to the collective body of work from which they’ve drawn so much enthusiasm and enjoyment obviously holds more appeal than some bland corporate or service sector profession. Being a professional animator also means you get paid for your passion, to the tune of roughly a cool million a year!

Except, that’s yen we’re talking about, which means the average animator’s annual salary is well under US$10,000.

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McDonald’s Japan faces largest deficit ever, closing 190 stores and retiring 100 HQ staff

We have said it many times: 2014 was not a good year for McDonald’s in Japan. Ever since being involved in an expired chicken scandal last summer, the Japanese public at large has held a grudge so deep against the restaurant you’d think Ronald himself left a flaming bag of dog poop on everyone’s doorstep and keyed their cars on his way off the premises.

Now as the new fiscal year in Japan begins we can see that this anger wasn’t limited to mere online whining either. Japanese people seem to have united and hit McDonald’s where it hurts most: the bottom line.

In an announcement on 16 April, McDonald’s Holdings Company Japan President Sarah Casanova announced that the company currently sits on the largest deficit ever at a super-sized 38 billion yen (US$319M).

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Chinese company Ninebot buys out Segway

It’s hard to imagine life before 2002 when the Segway standing scooter thing hit the scene completely revolutionized the way we get about, just like everyone predicted it would.

Its staggering success has made it an American institution. Like many of you, I have fond memories of making out with that special someone in the back of my Segway at the Segway-in movies during those hot summer nights.

But now, the vehicle we have all welcomed into our lives is entering a new chapter having been bought out by Beijing-based Ninebot Inc. I guess we won’t be able to use the old cliché “it’s as American as a Segway” anymore.

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Five ways to piss off your older Japanese coworkers at a new job

Going out to see cherry blossoms, regardless of the weather, is by far Japan’s favorite springtime activity. But there’s another tradition that’s almost as enthusiastically followed: veteran employees complaining about the new hires at their company.

The business year starts in April in Japan, which means that right now at companies across Japan older employees are grumbling about how the younger generation just doesn’t get it. But with Japanese homes not having lawns for their upset elders to yell at them to get off of, just what are young professionals in Japan doing that’s rubbing their coworkers the wrong way?

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Fear of failure could be behind the extremely low happiness rate among Japanese men

Recently the world got a look at the busy world of salarymen in Japan via a viral video, but there were also some slight reassurances that these company men didn’t necessarily hate their lives. We may have been a bit too optimistic, however, because a study done last year found that less than 30 percent of Japanese man can confidently say, “I am happy.” Well… that’s some statistic.

What’s behind the unhappiness factor among Japanese men? Bad marriages, work problems, convenience store diets? Accomplished Japanese author Reiko Yuyama gives her two yen on the root of the problem.

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Japanese netizens rewrite fairy tales in modern corporate situations so real they make us weep

In this modern age and day, most of us spend our days running the rat race and getting worn down by work and school, which is probably why some of us fantasize about the happy endings of fairy tales to get away from real life for a while. But then reality slaps us in the face and reminds us that the birds and mice aren’t going to help you with your chores even if you can sing like Celine Dion, Prince Charming is not coming to whisk you away from your office desk, and your bills aren’t going to vanish even if you fall into a deep, deep sleep.

If the heroes and heroines in fairy tales existed in modern-day and had to work like the rest of us, would their stories still be filled with all that magical glitz and romance? Perhaps not. Japanese Twitter users have been re-interpreting some fairy tales from a corporate perspective, which was supposed to be a creative and entertaining activity, but the new tales were so close to home they couldn’t even laugh over them.

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Fukuoka chicken restaurant in legal trouble for trying to “multiply” good workers

Securing a quality labor force in any workplace is difficult, but it’s especially tricky in the restaurant business. The demanding nature of the job and younger, sometimes less dedicated, employees often means a high turnover rate. However, one small chain of yakitori (grilled chicken) restaurants felt they had the solution.

When an employee was doing a truly great job, their manager would approach and ask them “How about we make you into two people?” That might sound like an excellent proposition for any busy worker, but as is often the case with magical offers, the reality is often illegal.

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Get a haircut, a manicure and an eyeful at this saucy salon in Vietnam

You generally don’t have to look too hard to find a business capitalizing on the appeal of scantily clad women, but recently there seem to be more and more places using half-naked dudes too. Hooray for gender equality, I guess?

Earlier this week, we told you about the upcoming Macho Cafe in Tokyo and the handsome dentist who cradles patients in his lap while doing a cleaning, but neither of those places have anything on this hair and nail salon in Da Nang, where your beauty comes with a side of beefcake.

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Video shows how Japanese salarymen work crazy hours, but is that really the norm? [Video]

It’s the end of the fiscal year in Japan, which means that Japanese companies have been under a lot of pressure these days to get things done. This can cause long, stressful hours for the salarymen bustling in and out of work everyday. One such salaryman, Stu in Tokyo, a British expat and a vlogger, made a video depicting his work/life balance during this busy time.

While the video went viral and has brought the tireless life of a Japanese salaryman to mass media, is the negative impression as accurate as we conceive?

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McDonald’s Japan to release “complaint app” to help restore faith in the company

The once mighty fast food chain McDonald’s has fallen on hard times in Japan lately, suffering a heavy blow when it become entangled in an expired meat scandal about a year ago.

Although other establishments were also implicated in the problem, the public in Japan seems to be holding an especially big grudge against the golden arches. On 9 March, the company announced that Japanese sales were down 28.7 percent from the same month in the previous year.

In response, McDonald’s Japan is looking to improve its customer service and restore public faith in the company. How? By releasing a new app for smartphones that will allow customers to lodge complaints with more convenience and speed than ever before!

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D Free: a new wearable device that gives you a 10-minute warning to find a toilet 【Video】

After inventing the printing press, mastering the power of flight, and connecting the world through the power of the Internet, it’s inspiring to know there is still more human ingenuity out there innovating and giving us life-changing products like a USB-powered rice ball warmer. But our species is a bright bunch and we continue to find new ways to harness technology, like a Japanese startup that has announced a new wearable device that predicts bowel movements and gives the user a 10-minute heads-up before needing to find a toilet.

It may not be as trendy of a wearable as the upcoming Apple Watch, but it could be a life-changing device for people who suffer from incontinence or those working in the nursing home industry.

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Fans mourn Sega’s exit from the console video game market, fume over new “Sega Games” name

As we talked about earlier this month, Sega Sammy Holdings, the parent company that now controls one-time video gaming pioneer Sega, is looking to seriously overhaul its structure and business operations. Statements from the conglomerate have stressed that this is an ongoing process, but one of the first steps seems to be Sega ditching the console video game business to focus on what it considers the areas of biggest growth, mobile and online PC games.

It’s a bittersweet day for the Sega faithful who over the last two decades watched the company’s fortunes take a downturn along with the arcade game market. Perhaps Sega’s new focus will finally help it rebound to the heights of its glory days. For the time being, though, Internet commenters have taken to their keyboards to voice their sorrow over how much they’ll miss its wares (both hard and soft), and also to ponder the hidden nonsensicalness of its new name, Sega Games.

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Is Samsung sounding the retreat on the Japanese smartphone market?

South Korean Electronics giant Samsung may soon pulling out of the smartphone market–in Japan, at least. Recent information from industry sources paints a dreary picture for the company’s prospects in the country, with Business Korea saying: “By continuing to do business in Japan, Samsung should expect more of a loss than a gain.”

So what’s to blame for its floundering smartphone sales?

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Sega seemingly saying sayonara to consoles as it downsizes, shifts focus to mobile and PC games

There was a time when the word “Nintendo” was synonymous with console video games. Literally, in that you’d hear parents say things like “Stop playing Nintendo and do your homework,” to their kids.

Rival video game company Sega put an end to that, though. Its Master System was the first post-NES console to have any sort of impact, limited as it was. More impressively, its Mega Drive/Genesis was the first 16-bit video game system, and for a period was actually the leading console in the North American market.

Sega’s tumultuous history with the console video game industry looks to be heading into its final chapter, though. Not only has the company been out of the hardware business for over a decade, Sega has announced that console software will no longer be the core element of its operations.

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Six Japanese business terms you already know, even if you didn’t realize it

We’ve talked before about handy Japanese words and phrases we wish we could toss around in English. This kind of linguistic jealousy doesn’t flow in just one direction, though. Japanese businesspeople regularly make use of a number of English phrases, either because they’re more concise, precise, or just sound cooler to their ears than their Japanese counterparts.

Sometimes, though, knowing English isn’t enough to understand these loanwords, since their pronunciations can get pretty garbled in the transition from English to Japanese speakers. Feeling confident in your ability to translate English translated into Japanese back into English? Read on and see how many you can decipher.

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Funny Dachshunds and gyoza dresses – Korean retailer’s unique item names tickle our funny bone

I love shopping online; nothing beats shopping at a mega sale sans the crazy crowds and long queues. In fact, I’ve gotten so accustomed to shopping for clothes, accessories, appliances and even manga online, these days when I step into an actual store I feel kind of lost and confused.

Having purchased from various online retailers based across the globe, I think I’ve had my fair share of browsing through all sorts of web stores, yet none of them managed to crack me up like this Korean online shop I stumbled upon a couple of days ago. Think along the lines of kidney bean shoes and dresses with gyoza necklines. Sounds ridiculous, but it’ll all make sense when you see the pictures after the break!

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Famous action anime director’s latest stop on the comeback trail: bank ad with giant robots

Last summer, we took a look at a series of ads from Okinawa’s Bank of the Ryukyus, known locally as Ryugin, that featured magical girl idol singers and giant robots. Those are certainly more visually appealing images than a staid banker or graphs explaining interest fees, but if we’re being totally honest, the sort of CG animation shown in the commercials really isn’t Japan’s forte.

Where the country’s artists really shine is in a more traditional discipline that mimics the style of hand-drawn artwork, regardless of whether or not it’s done with pencil and paper or all on a computer. Thankfully, that’s just what we get in the bank’s newest ad, which comes from one of anime’s top veteran action directors, plus one of its most accomplished voice actors.

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Small Hokkaido bookshop’s unique service is getting business from all over Japan

Iwata Bookstore is a modest little shop in Sunagawa City way up in the Northeastern part of Hokkaido. It also the site of an unlikely success story as it has recently been receiving orders from all over Japan by people wanting its one-of-a-kind offer of 10,000 yen (US$84) worth of books.

They’re not just any books though; these books are recommended by the shop’s owner Toru Iwata and hand-picked for every customer who orders.

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Samsung claims rival LG exec purposely broke its washing machine display model in Germany

A trait of good business leaders is that however high they rise in the company, they never overlook the organization’s frontline operations. It’s important, even for presidents and CEOs, to understand how low-level employees go about their tasks and the manner in which products are purchased and used.

According to accusations from Korean electronics maker Samsung, though, a senior executive from rival LG Electronics got a little too zealous in his point-of-sale activities when he stopped by a retailer and broke one of Samsung’s display models.

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Coming to Harajuku? Check out this new tourist booth for maps, Wi-Fi, crêpes and more!

Long before Gwen Stefani was inspired by the Tokyo neighborhood, Harajuku’s status as the center of Japanese fashion and pop culture had been well solidified. From strange footwear to unbearably cute cuisine, a visit to Harajuku is never dull and is a must-see for any tourist coming to Tokyo.

But the crowded streets, small shops and the language barrier might be a bit daunting for a first-time visitor. So to make that trip more worthwhile, a tourist organization is opening up a bilingual information booth in the heart of Harajuku to make sure visitors get the most out of their time in the exciting neighborhood.

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