Of course a lot of that is taught to them in the form of various kata (a formalized way in which the way things are done by the Japanese), but however it’s done, it is done.
January 4 is generally considered the very first day of work after the New Year holiday, and for the business company, that day, and a few workdays after it, are generally spent outside of the office performing aisatsu mawari… the courtesy call.
At this time, an employee will make an aisatsu mawari/courtesy call upon any business connection who has been helpful to the company over the past year. No business is conducted during these visits… it’s just a polite way of saying “thanks, we appreciate you”.
I believe it is common to bring some sort of present at this time… but rather than an envelope full of payola, it might be a tin of quality green tea powder, or senbei rice crackers. It’s a nice practice, to be honest.
Back before I fell into the magazine writing business, I used to be given hockey tickets by a trucking company who organized vehicles in and out of our facility… and I like to believe it wasn’t payola, because I was going to use their organizing services regardless.
Of course, businesses aren’t the only ones who perform the aisatsu mawari thing… nope… you know all of those New Year’s cards you received? Well, Japanese custom dictates that you make a personal visit to everyone who sent you a card. Now I know that’s hardly something the average person can perform.
Heck, every year I would get well over 100 cards! How the heck am I suppose to go and personally visit 100 people. By the way… I should have sent out cards to those 100 people… but I didn’t. Do yourself a favour...
If you live in Japan, send out these cards to everyone you work with. Ask for their address months in advance (and make sure it’s in kanji, so the post office handlers don;t have a heart attack trying to read English). Save up enough money to purchase enough pre-stamped New Years cards, and for Buddha’s sake, create a personal message of some sort.
The Japanese do NOT expect the gaijin (foreigner) to possess the Japanese courtesy of creating and mailing such cards (I didn’t, and thus did not disappoint), but doing so will make you a superstar.
It’s why I’m posting this blog now, rather than on January 3 like I was originally going to do. Yes… sometimes I write articles well in advance. I'm prepping you well in advance to get those addresses. The special New Year's cards aren't available yet.
Aisatsu mawari courtesy calls are also made when people are married, and the twosome spend time paying calls on relatives, work superiors who have shown favor, and present them with some sort of souvenir from their honeymoon.
Aisatsu mawari is all a part of being in Japanese society.
PS: Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash