Good Gaijin, Bad Gaijin

7 Acts of Finding a Place in the Rising Sun

Fiction - Inspirational
142 Pages
Reviewed on 05/12/2023
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Author Biography

I was born in the land of the rising sun, educated mostly in the West, then eventually came back home to start my professional career in advertising. A few decades since.
Business or personal, the most exciting and enjoyable part of life is meeting interesting people. I have met a few of them, and from anywhere and everywhere. Enough so I know firsthand the meaning of "different strokes for different folks".
Here's to light-heartedly share some tales in remembrance.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Essien Asian for Readers' Favorite

Two Japanese ladies make their way through the city streets in the evening. Miyu and Kana are working-class ladies who have developed a relationship that is as much a sisterly affair as it is professional. Tonight Kana decides to let her mentor in on her intention to quit her present job in favor of a Gaishikei. While they discuss this new development at Miyu's favorite spot, they are joined by The Master, the mysterious owner of the establishment who takes it upon himself to enlighten the ladies about the workings of these companies using a series of examples in Kana Oshito's introduction to business habits in the land of the rising sun titled Good Gaijin, Bad Gaijin.

For clarity, it is essential to note that Gaishikei is the Japanese word for a foreign company with a presence in Japan, and Gaijin is the local term for a foreigner living on Japanese soil. Kana Oshito uses a series of short but curious stories to highlight the pronounced differences between doing business in the western hemisphere and carrying out the same in the Orient, to be precise, Japan. It has the authenticity of a true story with ingenuity in keeping this work culturally rich, with the local parlance right down to the minuscule details such as greetings. The characters are simple in construction, with the evident focus being on the series of stories that are short, direct, and exceptionally easy for us to pick up the key points with ease. Good Gaijin, Bad Gaijin is a must-read for first-time visitors to Japan who have intentions to set up shop there. The knowledge in this guide could be the difference between a disastrous sojourn and a rapid rise through the ranks.

Maria Victoria Beltran

Good Gaijin, Bad Gaijin: 7 Acts of Finding a Place in the Rising Sun is an informative book by Kana Oshito. It consists of seven stories about foreign professionals in Japan as told by Master, a bar owner, to Kana-san and Miyu. These are the stories of Matt, Dennis, Frank, Richard, Donald, Terry, and Joe. Each of these stories explores the challenges and opportunities of working and living in Japan as a foreigner. Many gaishikei, or foreign companies, in Japan are subsidiaries or affiliates of large multinational corporations based in Europe or North America. These companies often bring their unique management practices and corporate cultures to Japan, which can sometimes clash with traditional Japanese business practices. Through Master’s stories, one can get valuable tips and make the most of one’s stay in the land of the rising sun.

Kana Oshito’s Good Gaijin, Bad Gaijin is an inspiring book that offers a unique viewpoint on the challenges and opportunities confronting foreign professionals in Japan. This is a must-read for those planning to do business in Japan, living and working there, or simply interested in Japanese culture. This book is fun because it is structured around seven stories, each featuring a different gaijin or foreigner and their journey to finding their place in Japan. Through the lens of these characters, Oshito explores a wide range of topics, including the importance of relationships, communication, respect for tradition, and the art of giving and receiving feedback. Success in Japan is not just about hard work and determination; one must also learn to navigate Japanese society's complex social and cultural norms. Highly recommended!

Carmen Tenorio

Kana Oshito's Good Gaijin, Bad Gaijin: 7 Acts of Finding a Place in the Rising Sun is a collection of seven stories about the journeys and interesting real-world situations of expatriates as they navigate corporate Japan. The book begins with two typical female office workers in Tokyo named Kana and Miyu who decided to unwind in a small restaurant serving traditional Japanese dishes. They later become the captive audience of "Master", the wise, respectable, and well-groomed restaurant owner in his senior years who heartily shares tales about "Gaijins" or foreigners in Japan working for international corporations. The stories that he has gathered came from his customers, as he served their food and drinks in his humble resto-bar. Miyu is considering changing jobs and feels that listening to Master's anecdotes is a source of good advice and wisdom that she badly needs before making a final decision about her career shift to work for a multinational corporation herself.

Good Gaijin, Bad Gaijin by Kana Oshito employs some Japanese terms which may need some explanation for the unfamiliar reader. The general flow and tone of the writing are smooth and can be a little laid back, although the pacing depends on the particular account. There are some notable comedic moments. Through the anthology, the author wants the reader to be able to identify the difference between a Good Gaijin and a Bad Gaijin by observing the characters in each of the seven accounts. The stories portray the different levels of determination, mindset, and confidence that they need to understand Japanese culture. They also show the reader how a fish-out-of-water Gaijin can effectively adjust behavior and expectations when handling social integration, acceptance, and adaptation as they try to regain their balance after experiencing the clash of cultures. The book is best read by current and future ex-pats as a guide that can buffer the rude awakening or the unexpected realities of working as a foreigner in Japan. It is also recommended for business people who have financial interests in Japan so that they can learn more about the country's society, values, culture, and corporate life.