Jul 07, 2016
Pupils from Hornsea School taking their first bow in Japan

Nippon Gohsei UK is helping to prepare a group of 12 to 15-year-olds for a school exchange visit to Japan in October.

Staff from the firm, based at Saltend Chemicals Park in Hull, told them about the country’s customs when Beverley High School hosted a special cultural session.

Also present were pupils from Beverley Grammar School and Hornsea School & Language College who will be in the 22-strong party that will stay singly with families in Chiba, near Tokyo.

The session was a chance to answer questions on why ‘saving face’ is so crucial in Japan, codes of etiquette, such as bowing, and to enjoy Japanese food.

Helen Starkey, Nippon Gohsei’s HR and communications manager, said: “While most of our staff in Hull are British, our head office is in Osaka, Japan, our managing director at the Hull site is Japanese and we have regular visits from Japanese colleagues.

“It is highly important to gain an understanding of Japanese culture in order for the business to run smoothly. Equally, the Japanese make efforts to understand ours.”

Mr Suzumori, who is on assignment from Japan to work in the company’s finance department, and his wife attended the interactive session.

Mrs Starkey said that in forging links with the community Nippon Gohsei was helping to develop an understanding of a culture that is regarded as ‘alien’ by many in the West.

“It was a fun and interesting helping young people understand the need to be appreciative of cultural differences,” she said. “Their forthcoming trip will be a wonderful opportunity to develop an understanding of the international community.”

Nippon Gohsei makes world-leading packaging product Soarnol, which is commonly used as a barrier layer in food packaging to preserve flavour and freshness.

Japanese business and other customs:

- Japanese will never to do anything to cause loss of face, such as openly criticising, insulting or putting a person on the spot.

- Silence is golden. At business meetings it suggests wisdom and emotional self-control. No unnecessary chatter.

- Group solidarity is valued over individualism. A single arrow can easily be broken, but not a bundle of 10.

- Business cards are an extension of identity. Accept or present one with both hands and treat them with respect.

- Treat older executives with extra deference.

- Hard sell won’t work. Take time to build trust.

- Exchanging gifts is important, but some that we might buy as presents here have negative connotations there.

- Asking personal questions, especially at the start of a relationship, may be regarded as rude.

- Don’t blow your nose in public!