Skip to main content

Business, in Brief

Well, it has been quite a week, everyone. For the past six days I've been commuting an hour to and from Nitori's main office in Tokyo for my first week of job training, albeit of the intellectual variety. And since it's of the intellectual variety...I actually am legally not allowed to tell you guys terribly much of the content of what I've learned. The short of it is: if I can find the information elsewhere (e.g. it's already on Nitori's website or there's already a public article written about it) I can talk about it, but otherwise everything I've learned, including things as seemingly basic as company slogans, are private information.

So. Moving on.

Here I am on day one, looking all bright and shiny in my very basic black suit (sans jacket, in this photo). It is so hot and humid, now that Tokyo is in the rainy season, and wearing these suits is a miserable experience. Almost as miserable, in fact, as the state of the trains during my daily commute:

Let me also stress to some degree that this was a day that was LESS crowded than normal. You don't really pick where you stand, you are literally shoved forward into the train by everyone behind you and end up squashed up against the people around you with no way to move. Even without a handle it's fine--you're packed so tightly you can't really stagger around and fall over. I elect to ride in the car that's designated, during peak commute times like the morning, for "women only," because if I MUST be in a full-body press with a stranger, it's less awkward if that stranger is a woman. 

Nitori's main office is three floors above their Akabane Store--a sizable Nitori that has both home goods and furniture. The past several days I've spent 8 hours each day in a series of lectures in order to acclimatize myself to Nitori's vision and goals, as well as chain store systems of management, production, and distribution in general. And, yes, there were daily tests I had to pass. I can say works like "gross profit," "net profit," and "economic democracy" in Japanese now. 

The view from the window of the office's 7th floor is quite nice. 

Additionally, yesterday was their monthly company BBQ food-event thing held on the roof. This time it was yakiniku (which literally means "grilled meat" and is exactly what it sounds like). Even though it was pouring (because a typhoon was sweeping across the country) everyone just huddled under leaking tents, frying meat, drinking beer, and generally getting soaked. This is Japanese business culture at one of its two extremes for you. 

Today we took a break from lectures and went to visit a nearby distribution center and one of Nitori's so-called "Auto Stores."

Here I am, safely ensconced in a helmet.

The Auto Store was definitely the coolest thing we saw (everything else, despite its stellar organization, just looks like a warehouse). There are these little red robots, that remind me not a little bit of Walle, that zip around on tracks between stacks of crates. When items are requested, these robots can find and get the necessary items in a fraction of the time it would take a person. And, based on the data they collect, items that are frequently called for are allocated to the top third of the array, while items that don't get requested often are relegated to the bottom. 


Here's a video (albeit with a weirdly dramatic intro) about what this sort of system accomplishes.

I have tomorrow and Friday off, thank goodness. Time to sort myself out, do some necessary things like grocery shopping and laundry, and even meet up with a few friends. I also go to make my first introductions at my assigned store tomorrow to meet the managers and hopefully get my shift schedule. Wish me luck!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Final Touring Excursions

Tomorrow is my last day. It felt strange to write that sentence, knowing that I've been gone six weeks, which feels like both no time at all but also forever. Even though this is my fifth time coming to Japan (and the fourth for an protracted trip), the coming-and-going is something I don't get used to. Just as I start getting over my "ugh, I just want to go home" hump and settling in, well, it actually IS time to go home.

What have I done the past few days?

Well, on Sunday my host family and I took a drive to Yamanashi prefecture (re: near Mount Fuji) to visit the Oshino Hakkai, the Eight Sacred Ponds of Oshino. According to the signage, when people used to hike up Mount Fuji for pilgrimages, they would purify themselves in the ponds before starting their journey. And having stuck my hand in an (acceptable) corner of the main pond, Wakuike, it was FREEZING. Some other ponds have specific purposes, however. One was for people who wanted a good marriage, for instance.

Cat Cafe

Today I went with my host brother to a cat cafe for "research". Yes it is a cafe and yes it has (canned) coffee, but also I really really really wanted to go to a cat cafe. By doing a little research, I found one off a convenient train station that not only didn't require a reservation in advance, but had free drinks and was actually significantly less expensive for more time than other cafes. On to Nyankoto!

For cat lovers, this is paradise:

This shop had fifteen cats, each with their own names and personality described in a photo book:

This cat's name is Kinta and he's a mix--though most of the cats there were breeds I was unfamiliar with and had fur of various kinks and degrees of fluffiness. 
They were all very social, active cats as well.

Kinta greeted my host brother by literally jumping on his back. 
The other cats often ran around chasing each other (one was a very energetic kitten, so he was always pouncing on the others) or flopping down to be pet in co…

Shibuya and Ebisu

The past few days I've been in the Shibuya and Ebisu areas (think: south-west side of Tokyo) to check out some of the up-and-coming cafes, as well as wander around the neighborhood. I've decided that wherever I go, I'm going to find something to do in addition to spending 3-5 hours in coffee shops--while the research and the people I meet are incredible I do regret that I don't get to spend as much time exploring the other aspects of Tokyo. 
Yesterday in Shibuya I checked out The Local Coffee Stand, Coffeehouse Nishiya, and The Theater Coffee. The Local is a pretty unassuming space, even though it is on a main street. It's goal is to be the sort of jumping-off point for people just getting in to specialty coffee: they showcase beans from local roaster and run a website called "Good Coffee" in both Japanese and English to help people find "that local spot" in a neighborhood near to them. I'm including a link to the site, HERE. CLICK THIS.