6 months. 3 bullet points. 1 expat’s survival kit.

It has been 6 months since I have come to the land of rising sun, and by all stats and signs of it, that of shrinking opportunities. Yet, all is not lost in this 3rd largest economy in the world. There is still a long way to go before it hurtles down the doomsday path that many are predicting; and there still is hope of it reversing the trend.

Amidst all the chaos of settling in, figuring out, wandering about and the likes in a new country – here’s what I learnt in conversations with some interesting people, observed under the influence of beer on tap, and generally gleaned by various other means (https://ivak99.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/five-things-to-know-when-marketing-to-an-alien-culture/); to survive in a country like Japan that is as interesting as it is challenging.

  • Find a niche: Don’t’ bite more than u can chew. Don’t even bite what u can chew. Just nibble. (This, incidentally, is just about the size of portion you get in most restaurants.) This is a country of monoliths and oligarchy. Of real big players and of scale and size so enormous, it’s indeed daunting.Yet, if you are able to find your groove, which plays to your strengths don’t hesitate to pursue it, however small the opportunity appears to be and continues to be.


  • Stay under the radar: Deru kugi wa utareru or literally “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down” is a Japanese proverb. It pays to not be seen going hammer and tongs about your achievements or raising the profile of the niche that you have successfully and arduously built. The society respects and rewards those who work and let the work speak for itself.


  • Have big ears and a small mouth: It is easy to succumb to the temptation of blowing one’s own trumpet. Or dishing advice (I am hoping that writing blogs doesn’t get counted in that). Or shooting one’s mouth off. Or all. What we may feel as reassurance (by touting our achievements) can be seen as expediency. And that will shut people out. And close a lot of doors. One is well advised to listen more often and intently for there is a lot of wisdom going around.

You will be surprised to see, how much easier life will become contrary to what you may have heard, if you start following in your own way, the above.

Nihongo Wa Ganbatte Kudasai 


5 Comments Add yours

  1. jyoti says:

    Dear Arun,
    Thanks for all these knowledgable words……….its very important to know the culture of other people n by your help atleast we cud know the culture of japan
    :)……….thanks once again….will definitely keep it in mind….

  2. ID says:

    Have big ears and a small mouth! The learning for the day!

  3. Deepavali Gaind says:

    Once again Arun..your words are pearls of wisdom….I particularly enjoyed…Deru kugi wa utareru or literally “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down” …thanks for sharing your thoughts….as always rewarding to follow you…

  4. GPJ says:

    Thanks Arun.

    Gambatte ne!

  5. TEAMNEURS says:

    Dear Arun,

    Thank you for sharing those jewels of wisdom.

    I am an ignorant in N areas and Japanese culture is one of them. It was important to have you perspective.

    Kind regards,


    On the 26.04.11, the Brazil Finland Day we counting to have Japanese guests. See more at

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