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Working in Japan

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Working in Japan

Postby slackass » Tue 06.10.2008 11:47 pm

Hi, I was just wondering if anyone can give me some advise about working in Japan as an engineer? I am thnking about applying for a position that was advertised with one of the recruitment agencies in my field. Are there any expat on this forum? If so, can you please tell me how does working in Japan compare to your home country? I have heard that working hours are long with not a lot of spare time? What about if you work in Japan, but for a non-japanese company? is it still the same? Any info you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
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Re: Working in Japan

Postby chikara » Wed 06.11.2008 12:00 am

日本語がよく上手ですか
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Re: Working in Japan

Postby becki_kanou » Wed 06.11.2008 12:14 am

chikara wrote:日本語がよく上手ですか

It seems like you started writing one sentence and finished with another...
Maybe that should be: 「日本語がよく話せますか?」or 「日本語が上手ですか?」
although I'd probably use うまく rather than よく in the first example....
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Re: Working in Japan

Postby chikara » Wed 06.11.2008 12:17 am

becki_kanou wrote:It seems like you started writing one sentence and finished with another...
Maybe that should be 「日本語がよく話せますか?」or 「日本語が上手ですか?」

Actually I did :oops:

As a matter of interest why is よく incorrect in that context?
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Re: Working in Japan

Postby becki_kanou » Wed 06.11.2008 12:37 am

I don't know if it's incorrect so much as slightly ambiguous and awkward. Of course IANANS but when talking about doing something well, I think うまく is much more common. Let's go to google to find out though:

よく話せます= 524 googits
よく話せる= 8,470
うまく話せます=2,380 googits
うまく話せる=27,200 googits
上手く話せます=720 googits
上手く話せる= 15,600 googits
上手に話せます=3,020 googits
上手に話せる=36,000 googits

Hmm..seems like I was right, but 上手に is actually more common than 上手く or うまく.

I think it's (and anyone please feel free to correct me) よく more usually means "often" and so could be ambiguous, but うまく and 上手に only mean "well". (Of course, うまく could also be tastily, but that's a whole nother can of worms...) :mrgreen:
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Re: Working in Japan

Postby chikara » Wed 06.11.2008 12:50 am

Thanks for the explanation. I had started to ask how good the OP's Japanese was but then changed my mind and simply took the "日本語がよく上手ですね" that I constantly (patronisingly) heard and turned it into a question.

I was not familiar with 旨く (うまく), although I am familiar with 旨い/ 美味い, but it seems to be a word to relish :)
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Re: Working in Japan

Postby becki_kanou » Wed 06.11.2008 1:16 am

chikara wrote:Thanks for the explanation. I had started to ask how good the OP's Japanese was but then changed my mind and simply took the "日本語がよく上手ですね" that I constantly (patronisingly) heard and turned it into a question.

I was not familiar with 旨く (うまく), although I am familiar with 旨い/ 美味い, but it seems to be a word to relish :)


Nice pun! GOL (groaning out loud) I know what you mean about 「日本語が上手ですね。」. Most days I just take it in stride, but sometimes I just want to yell: "And how the heck would you know that?!? All I've said so far is すみません!!!!!" (I never have though....yet :) )
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Re: Working in Japan

Postby spin13 » Wed 06.11.2008 5:18 am

I am an engineer, specifically with a background in microelectronics and applied physics, and although I do not work as engineer in Japan, I work with many engineers. With the exception of software engineering and systems engineering* (most of which is just support at a larger company), most engineering companies are still quite traditional and conservative. They predominately hire natives and preferably into permanent, lifetime positions. While the number of temp workers seems to be increasing in this companies, most of the actual engineers seem to be salaried.

I wouldn't for one second ever want to work in a traditional Japanese [engineering] company. While I didn't come to Japan to make loads of cash, if I'm going to take a 40% pay cut (comparing the average starting salary for EE's in Japan to that of my alma mater), I'd rather be a dancing bear than an overworked suit.

Most of the cushy jobs are people sent over by a foreign company and those are positions usually only gained after gaining experience and showing loyalty. They are often well paid and require no Japanese skill, but seem to be given mostly to senior or manager level staff. The foreign owned companies that have a full branch office in Tokyo may be unlike jobs at headquarters outside of Japan. Both the management and the staff are often mostly Japanese, and while the comparisons to traditional Japanese companies are often favorable for these foreign companies, even the big name American companies don't always seem so American to me.

Oh, and if your Japanese isn't topnotch, I hope you have an impressive graduate degree or two.
That's not to say it's impossible, but...

Then again, you should just apply and talk it over the with company anyway. See where you get.

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*Systems engineering is mostly just IT with a fancy title, here. The term doesn't seem to cover the same broad spectrum it might elsewhere.
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Re: Working in Japan

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Wed 06.11.2008 9:22 am

becki_kanou wrote:I think it's (and anyone please feel free to correct me) よく more usually means "often" and so could be ambiguous


Personally I would have a hard time interpreting よく話せますか as anything but "can you speak Japanese often?" Of course I'm not a native speaker. (よく話しますか would be much more likely, of course.)
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Re: Working in Japan

Postby Mike Cash » Wed 06.11.2008 8:14 pm

becki_kanou wrote:I know what you mean about 「日本語が上手ですね。」. Most days I just take it in stride, but sometimes I just want to yell: "And how the heck would you know that?!? All I've said so far is すみません!!!!!" (I never have though....yet :) )


I was browsing a small antique camera shop in Takasaki back in April, when I suddenly got the 日本語が上手ですね thing.

I hadn't said a single word.
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Re: Working in Japan

Postby chikara » Wed 06.11.2008 8:19 pm

Mike Cash wrote:I was browsing a small antique camera shop in Takasaki back in April, when I suddenly got the 日本語が上手ですね thing.

I hadn't said a single word.

They could read your mind :shock:

*queue Twighlight Zone theme*

Seriously though Mike-san, could it have been that you gave the impression that you could read Japanese signs and labels in the shop (which you obviously can) rather than just stare blankly at them?
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Re: Working in Japan

Postby Harisenbon » Wed 06.11.2008 8:51 pm

Mike Cash wrote:I was browsing a small antique camera shop in Takasaki back in April, when I suddenly got the 日本語が上手ですね thing.

I hadn't said a single word.


I was at a developer's conference a couple of months ago, and one of the salesmen for the conference came up to me to introduce himself. As soon as I said はじめまして he esclaimed 日本語ぺらぺらですね!

The bar is definately lowering for fluency in Japan. ;)
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Re: Working in Japan

Postby Feba » Wed 06.11.2008 8:56 pm

Harisenbon wrote:The bar is definately lowering for fluency in Japan.


Maybe they're trying to keep up with America?
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Re: Working in Japan

Postby jimbreen » Wed 06.11.2008 9:52 pm

chikara wrote:
Mike Cash wrote:I was browsing a small antique camera shop in Takasaki back in April, when I suddenly got the 日本語が上手ですね thing.

I hadn't said a single word.


Seriously though Mike-san, could it have been that you gave the impression that you could read Japanese signs and labels in the shop (which you obviously can) rather than just stare blankly at them?


That's probably it. I've got the 日本語が上手 treatment when reading a newspaper.
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Re: Working in Japan

Postby Mike Cash » Wed 06.11.2008 10:51 pm

I sort of doubt it. The cameras were largely on open shelves and the only signs were price tags.

On the other side of the coin, I've been reading Japanese novels and have people come up to me and attempt to communicate with gestures, assuming my Japanese to be zero.
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