OL is short for “office lady (オフィスレディ),” a Japanese-coined English word referring to a female office worker.
In early Showa period, “BG” or business girl (ビジネスガール), was used to refer to these female workers, but rumors at the time said BG means Bar Girl and prostitution, therefore Japanese media stopped using the term in 1963, a year before the Tokyo Olympics. To replace BG, a new term was needed. The term office lady was then coined in 1964 as a result of popular votes by readers of Josei Jishin (a tabloid magazine targeted for women).
Office lady usually refers to a worker whose position consists primarily of assisting others (secretaries) or clerical tasks. When a female employee is in an executive position, or in preparation to be one, she’s no longer called OL. As you can imagine, it’s a highly prejudiced term, so you may want to be careful when and where it’s appropriate to use it.
Noren (暖簾) is a piece of fabric that is hang in front of a store or at a border between rooms to be used as a banner, sign, or blinds. Traditionally, a noren is printed with either family crest, emblem, or trade name.
Noren can be seen at a variety of storefronts such as restaurants, gift shops, communal bath, food carts, and so on.
Because noren is basically the “face” of a business, there’s an idiom which goes “noren ni kizu ga tsuku (暖簾に傷がつく).” Literal translation would be “a noren has been damaged,” but what it actually means is someone’s reputation has been damaged or defamed.
“Noren wo wakeru (暖簾を分ける)” is also another idiom. It could be translated as “dividing a noren,” meaning a business is licensing someone else to open a new store under the same trade name.
Ryōshūsho (領収書) in Japanese is what we call a “receipt” in English.
It’s a document that summarizes purchases of items/services made and the amount of payment received, including taxes.
However, you’ll notice in Japan sometimes people ask for ryōshūsho even after they’ve already received printed receipts. Why is this? It’s because there are two kinds of receipts in Japan.
One form of ryōshūsho is a typical receipt printed on thermal paper by a cash register.
As you can see, on the receipt it’s clearly printed “領収書 (ryōshūsho)” and indeed summarizes purchases made and payment received.
However, people in Japan usually call this type of printed receipts “reshīto (レシート)” and differentiate it from the other type, in which I’m going to talk about next.
The other type of ryōshūshois hand-written receipts.
When you say ryōshūsho,most people think you mean this hand-written type, as opposed to printed reshīto. In many cases, reshīto are not recognized as valid legal documents under Japanese tax law. Hand-written receipts are harder to falsify, therefore considered a legitimate proof. That’s why people ask for hand-written ryōshūsho when they want to write something off as expense, so to avoid trouble in later auditing process.
Most stores and services in Japan will issue, upon request, a formal receipt hand-written and stamped by their employees. The format may look different from one to another, but it must contain the following information: Date, payment made, items/services purchased, contact information of the issuer, consumption tax, stamp of the issuer, and the company name/business name of which the customer is going to write off as an expense for. The last one is important to remember, because when you request someone to issue you ryōshūsho, he/she is going to ask you “to whom do I write it for?” Thus, be prepared to answer with an appropriate business name.*
*Some people ask it to write for “uesama (上様)” as non-specific business name, but this technically cannot be used as a valid proof of expense.
If all you want is a printed receipt for your personal record, ask for reshīto! If you ask for ryōshūsho they’ll think you want it for your business!
When you are traveling in Japan, have you encountered a situation where you need to get on computers immediately, but unable to find places that offer Wi-Fi and electric outlets? You no longer have to deal with such problem by going to a new co-working space “Coin Space” that opened in Shibuya.
Tokyo is a technologically advanced city, but for some reason it’s difficult to find coffee shops with free open Wi-Fi like other big cities. “Coin Space” is conveniently located across from Shibuya Station West Exit, open from 9AM to 10PM everyday, and you can stay as long as you want for only 1500 yen. (Hourly rate is 100 yen per 12 min, with maximum 1500 yen).
The space consists of two floors, both fully equipped with free Wi-Fi and electric outlets. First floor has 200 seats in relaxed, cafe style with high ceiling and ambient music.
Second floor has cubicle style desks, an enclosed smoking section, which make this floor popular for Japanese businessmen. There are 104 seats on the second floor.
Customers of Coin Space can access its all-you-can-drink vending machines all day for FREE!
So many options to choose from! Coffee, tea, corn soup, soda, sports drink…
What’s even cooler? It’s kids friendly. Coin Space is very aware of working mothers with children. The place has playgrounds, nursing rooms, and diaper changing stations.
Microwaves are available for customers too. So you can bring in your own food from outside and heat it up as needed!
Basic office needs such as printers, scanners, iPads, smartphone chargers, are also available upon request. There are three private meeting rooms you can share with up to 10 people.
It is soooo convenient that I want to live here now.
Since it’s such an ideal space, wouldn’t it be crowded, do you ask? According to the owner, the most crowded time of the week is Saturday noon. However, it’s never been completely full so far, and there are always seats available for customers.
Unfortunately, Coin Space is scheduled to run only for a year. It’s going to close in May, 2015. However, they are going to open new Coin Space stores in different parts of Tokyo in future. So watch out for updates. I’m looking forward to see them in every part of the city!
Madogiwa is a term that describes middle-aged to elderly Japanese salarymen who is virtually given a sinecure position. The literal translation of the word means “by the window.”
In late 1970’s, a local newspaper in Hokkaido posted an article titled “Madogiwa ojisan (old men by the window),” showing several photos of middle-aged salarymen who basically are just killing time by reading newspaper and daydreaming next to their office windows. Since then, the term madogiwa started being used as a word to describe such demographic.
At the time, Japan was enjoying its continuing economic boom, and labor union had been pressuring corporates to give their employees lifetime employment. They had to keep employees till their retirement age even if there aren’t any jobs in the companies that are suitable for these old men to handle.
However, number of Madogiwa employees decreased dramatically after Japan’s economic bubble collapsed in 1990. Corporates started prioritizing performance and results over number of years of one’s contribution. Groups of salarymen that fell into madogiwa category were forced to quit their companies unless they were useful.
Japanese language by its nature has many honorifics, aka keigo, that you are expected to use in many social environments and to show respect.
When you are not using keigo, you are speaking in “tame guchi（タメ口）.” Tame guchi is a collective term that refers to any informal mode of speech. You’d use tame guchi for your close friends, but you don’t want to use it toward supervisors at work, teachers, someone older than you, etc.
“Tame (タメ)” by itself means “same age,” or being equal with someone.
It started out as a gambling term that means matching dice.
In mid-Showa period, the word started being used among juvenile delinquents, and later on, it became known to all teenagers.