Tips for OFW Trainees in Japan

Starting a new job in Japan as an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) is exciting, but it comes with its own set of challenges. Japanese workplaces have unique customs and expectations that can be unfamiliar to newcomers.

In this article, we’ll explore some essential tips to help OFWs adapt and thrive in their new work environment. From understanding punctuality to communicating respectfully, these tips will guide you in building positive relationships with your Japanese mentors and leaders. Let’s dive in and make your journey in the Land of the Rising Sun a successful one.

tips for ofw trainees in japan
Disclaimer: The information posted here is based on the personal experiences shared by the OFW in the video below. Please let this post serve as a guide only. If you have specific questions, you may ask the OFW by commenting on their video on their accounts.

How to Act as an OFW Trainee in Japan

The information presented in this article comes from a YouTube video from the channel Yuri Bikolano Tv. In this video, the OFW vlogger shares some tips for trainees in Japan. In particular, he shares what not to do during work. If you want to watch the full video, then click on the link below:

The following is a summary of the tips mentioned by the vlogger on how to act during work hours as an OFW trainee in Japan:

  • Tip 1: First Impressions Matter
  • Tip 2: Punctuality is Key
  • Tip 3: Clarity Over Assent
  • Tip 4: Honesty During Work Hours
  • Tip 5: Borrowing Items During Work Hours
  • Tip 6: Humility in Skill Display
  • Tip 7: Respectful Communication
  • Tip 8: Maintain Professionalism
  • Tip 9: Learn from Mistakes
  • Tip 10: Apologize for Mistakes
  • Tip 11: Maintain a Serious Atmosphere
  • Tip 12: Respect Quiet Environment
  • Tip 13: Maintain Courtesy
  • Tip 14: Be Mindful of Break Time

Tip 1: First Impressions Matter

In Japan, first impressions can leave a lasting impact. It’s crucial to start off on the right foot, as initial perceptions often endure throughout your time working together. If your first encounter showcases a negative attitude, it may color their perception of you for the duration of your professional relationship.

Tip 2: Punctuality is Key

Japanese culture places a premium on punctuality. Arriving 5 to 10 minutes early to the designated waiting area demonstrates your respect for their time and adherence to strict schedules, which are ingrained in Japanese society. However, being excessively early—20 minutes to an hour ahead—is also frowned upon, as it can be seen as disruptive or overly eager. Finding the balance is key to making a positive impression.

Tip 3: Clarity Over Assent

When faced with a language barrier or unfamiliar dialect, it’s essential to prioritize clarity over false agreement. Saying “Hai” (yes) or “Wakarimashita” (I understand) when you don’t comprehend can lead to misunderstandings and frustration down the line. Instead, politely ask for clarification or repetition, and if needed, seek assistance from your senpai (mentor) for translation. Japanese colleagues value honesty and transparency, so admitting when you don’t understand is far more appreciated than pretending otherwise.

Tip 4: Honesty During Work Hours

Don’t lie during work hours – if you made a mistake, tell your Japanese supervisors right away, don’t wait for them to discover it. It’s normal to make a mistake. Even professionals make mistakes. There’s nothing wrong with admitting mistakes.

Tip 5: Borrowing Items During Work Hours

Don’t borrow the things of Japanese during work hours – okay to borrow things with co-Filipinos, but for Japanese, as much as possible, avoid borrowing their things as they don’t like to be inconvenienced.

Tip 6: Humility in Skill Display

Don’t pretend that you are good at your job – even if you trained in the Philippines, but it’s different from how your sensei does things, don’t tell them they are wrong. Japanese don’t like being corrected, especially if they are not your level. Remember the hierarchy: kohai and senpai. Senpai are mentors, especially your sensei. They are guiding and instructing, so don’t correct them if you are a newbie. If they make a mistake, let them make it.

Tip 7: Respectful Communication

Don’t give orders to your sacho or shidoin – if you are a newbie, and you need to get something below but your sensei is busy, then as much as possible don’t ask them to give you something. Instead, if possible, go down yourself and sacrifice your time, because you are a newbie.

Tip 8: Maintain Professionalism

Don’t laugh or make jokes during work hours – as a newbie, refrain from making fun or laughing with your co-workers during work hours, even among fellow Filipino workers. It’s not a good look to be seen joking around while your senpai is diligently working. Save the fun for break time. Japanese colleagues may perceive it as a lack of seriousness towards your job.

Tip 9: Learn from Mistakes

Don’t repeat the same mistakes over and over again – for example, if you are a newbie and you make a mistake, it’s understandable. They will teach you, and that’s okay. If it happens again, maybe it’s still okay. But if it occurs repeatedly for the third or fourth time, it’s not acceptable. Keep a notebook to jot down notes in your own language to avoid repeating errors. This practice applies not only to Japanese work culture but universally.

Tip 10: Apologize for Mistakes

If you make a mistake and don’t apologize, that’s a bad look. Vloggers have noticed this among Japanese. If you fail to say sorry, they may not express their anger verbally, but it will be evident in their body language. They may feel confused about why you haven’t apologized. While they may not explicitly tell you to say sorry, it will linger in their minds if you don’t.

Tip 11: Maintain a Serious Atmosphere

Try not to sing, rap, or whistle during work hours – even if you’re in a good mood, refrain from doing this during work hours. Japanese colleagues may perceive it as a lack of seriousness towards your job, which can lead to irritation.

Tip 12: Respect Quiet Environment

Don’t put your cellphone on loudspeaker while using it – even outside of work hours. In Japan, it’s generally very quiet, and Japanese people appreciate silence. Listening to music or videos on loudspeaker can be considered noise, which is disruptive. Use headphones instead, especially if you’re new to the workplace.

Tip 13: Maintain Courtesy

Say your greetings – remember to say good morning, good afternoon, and good evening. It’s a simple gesture that shows respect and courtesy in Japanese culture.

Tip 14: Be Mindful of Break Time

Japanese don’t like when you declare it’s already break time, even if it really is. Instead, there’s a more tactful approach to avoid offending them. For example, if break time is at 12 and it’s already 12:15, simply inform them of the time without explicitly declaring it’s break time yet.

As we’ve explored in this article, assimilating into Japanese work culture requires more than just mastering job tasks; it demands a deep understanding and respect for the customs, etiquette, and values that underpin daily interactions.