Monday, April 2, 2012

High Winds and Tough Training

courtesy of yoshimov
of Flickr
Monday April 2, 9:58 p.m.

Now that picture on the right is of a proper typhoon hitting the Kanto. The true situation is supposedly not quite that bad, but apparently the area where I used to live is gonna be smacked with some pretty high winds today. I guess the wacky weather is also continuing over there after Tokyo basically stole our Winter. Over here, we're supposed to be having some gorgeous weather although the temps will be a lot more seasonable than what we had a couple of weeks ago.

courtesy of Iimi
of Flickr
Another interesting feature I got from NHK News tonight was about the start of the new fiscal year. Everything starts over again from April 1st in Japan: school, business and the TV season. This, of course, means that companies start training the newbies. The fresh faces from universities dress up in their  suits and head to work, preparing to be indoctrinated into their new workstyles.

NHK came across this one company based in Shizuoka Prefecture, some 2 hours by car from Tokyo out in the west. For their training, the boss had their recruits try something that comes right out of "The Amazing Race". They were split into pairs and told to hitchhike all the way from Numazu City to some hotel in Chiba their suits.

Now, hitchhiking is relatively rare in Japan when compared to the rest of the world...something about being a burden on the driver and so forth. It's simply not something that is done readily in the country. So, just imagine 1st-year company freshpersons being forced by thumb to make their way across four prefectures to keep the big boss happy. Not easy.

And in fact, they didn't do it by thumb. The whole intent of this elaborate and imaginative exercise was to force the kids (who, I assume, will be going into sales) to communicate and negotiate a way out of their transportation dilemma. One fellow was a soldier in the Self-Defense Forces who admitted that he wasn't thrilled about haggling. Another half of a duo kept approaching women because he was afraid of being chewed out by other male drivers. But in both situations, the pairs had to confront their fears and get to the hotel in Chiba. Of course, the tape was edited so the focus was just on those two pairs and just on the drivers who were kind enough to take them through various legs of the trip. So, we didn't get to see some of the more negative replies.

But it was obvious that they all made it to Chiba in the end. The one pair that was featured was the very last pair and got the booby prize....7 hours. But the president was magnanimous and gave them a hearty welcome back home. And perhaps a lesson was learned as well. And much beer was imbibed afterwards. Still, I'm not sure whether an imposed hitchhiking odyssey is still enough to prepare the young'uns for the harsh world of salesmanship in Japan.