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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!


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