I got a very nice email from an old student who moved to Tokyo from Kobe last year. He shared a very funny story about conducting business in China so I asked his permission to share his email and he agreed. What makes this student so very special is his great effort to write and speak English. He is really great! Please enjoy it!
Belated Happy New Year!
How have you spent your new year’s off? Did you go to Hawaii with your family or go back to your home country? Didn’t you eat rice cakes too much? I hope you are doing well.
I took days off from December 29 to January 5. Once I went back to Tokyo on January 5 and went to work on January 6, and then flew back to Kobe on the same day and spent a long weekend in Kobe. I relaxed during the long days off. Watching TV and DVDs, visiting the family grave, playing soccer, going out for a drink with my old friends, reading a book etc. There are interesting TV programs in sports throughout New Years every year, such as the Emperor’s Cup final game of soccer, college students’ long-distance relay race from Tokyo to Hakone, or HAKONE EKIDEN, the high school soccer championship and the high school rugby tournament. If I saw all the programs, I would felt the days off come to end so fast. But since I could take long days off this time, it is rare for me, I refrained from watching TV and, instead, took this opportunity to try to read a thick English book. I devoted a great deal of time for reading the book, but there are still 60 pages out of 500 pages to finish. (Wow, He is doing great! )
When I visited the family grave, I saw inside the tomb for the first time. My aunt passed away last October. Her ashes had been kept in an urn for a while and then, in December, the ashes were taken out of the urn and wrapped with white cotton cloth and put into the tomb. I thought ashes were kept in an urn and the urn would be placed in a tomb. When I asked my father about it, he answered, “If ashes are kept in an urn, they will remain in it forever and cannot return to nature. Things which came from nature, or creatures, should go back to nature.” I think that comes from teachings of Buddhism. (Also, Christian I guess: Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust…)
When I went for a drink with my old friends, I heard an interesting story from one of them. He works in the mail-order industry, orTSUSHIN-HANBAI in Japanese. He sometimes visits suppliers in China. By and large, Chinese people entertain their guests in a big way. It is common custom to pour drinks each other at a party in China as well as in Japan. But in case of China, it goes a little bit too far. If the guests do not drink up a glass which is filled with a drink poured by their hosts, the guests will be regarded as antisocial and business with the hosts will not go well. Being entertained usually means a lot of fun, but in this case, it is hard for guests.
One day in November, my friend and his colleague visited one of their suppliers in China. They got to the supplier’s office in the morning and took a trip to their factory in the afternoon. In the evening, they were invited for dinner as usual. When they went into a restaurant and proceeded to the reserved table, they found a stranger sitting by the table. He seemed to be a member of the supplier, but he rarely joined the conversation and looked like not interested in business. My friend wondered who he was. The time of toast came. The host poured drinks into my friend and colleague’s glasses. They emptied their glasses. Next, it was my friends’ turn to pour drinks. Then, the stranger suddenly joined the party. He drank up glasses one after another as a representative of the supplier. He had apparently been hired purely for the purpose of drinking alcohol on behalf of the supplier on that occasion. He is a kind of drinking specialist and so he must be a heavy drinker. My friend mumbled “It’s unfair.” He called him “a drinker” or NOMIYA in Japanese.
(A very funny custom!)
I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
This student is of course a very high level student and has great conversation and writing skills. But he found that he could benefit from studying at my school because we have a lot of great resources for the lesson and he was placed with another high level student who also had intention of improving her business English. We are very flexible at Smith’s and welcome all levels including very high levels.
Oh, the other interesting thing is that this student moved to Tokyo and ended up working in the same building as his Smith’s classmate’s husband. It really is a small world!
Al Bartle Smith’s School of English – Okamoto
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