Word of the Week – Omotenashi
News today that the 2021 Olympics – already delayed by a year – may not go ahead at all, was disappointing for sports fans everywhere. For Japanese fans the disappointment must have been far more acute. A decade ago, Japan was reeling from the impact of the Tōhoku earthquake that devastated the north east of the country, briefly raising fears of a nuclear accident. Japan’s industrial base, its production capacity and even its economic status were compromised. As the world’s third largest economy with an unrivalled commitment to research and development, Japan’s recovery was crucial not just for its own sake but for the sake of market economies everywhere.
The awarding of the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Olympics to Japan marked the country’s admirable recovery. The Rugby World Cup was a huge success, and when the hosts succeeded on the field as well as off it, neutrals were delighted.
The Japanese people earned this affection and respect, and those of us who’ve visited this fascinating country will understand why.
Not every word or phrase can be translated literally. When a certain way of behaving becomes part of national culture and a source of national pride, it’s not easy to pinpoint what it means to outsiders. When Christel Takigawa, Japan’s bid ambassador for the 2020 Olympics, told the International Olympic Committee that her country would show visitors omotenashi, linguists found it hard to define. The meaning will become clear should the Olympics go ahead, because the Japanese people can be relied on to deliver a welcome so warm that visitors won’t want the event to end.
Omotenashi captures the Japanese approach to hospitality. The essence of it is putting the guest first without being obsequious, anticipating and acting on the needs of others and taking enormous pride in the satisfaction this brings. Those of us who’ve been lucky enough to experience it understand why Japanese people proudly say that in the West the customer may be king, but in Japan the customer is god. Visitors to hotels, restaurants and even shops are treated like honoured guests. Strangers in the street will put their own needs aside to help guide others to their destination. It’s an uplifting experience.
At XTM we’re happy to have trusted partners in Japan, and in 2021 we’ve been proud to take our place as members of the Japan Technical Communicators Association (JTCA). This association unites companies, organisations and individuals in a common purpose: better quality of information, greater levels of efficiency and higher standards of safety. The JTCA have been working tirelessly to protect and improve lives since 1992, following the watchwords “Better Life, Better Business by Better Technical Communication.”
XTM Sales Director David Webb sees Japan’s business leaders as natural partners:
“As a JTCA member company, XTM International will proudly uphold its standards and continue to build awareness of the value of enterprise translation technology in improving communication. And we’re delighted to stand alongside the Japanese companies whose commitment to quality and customer service set such a high standard.”
XTM Cloud is the leading enterprise Saas Translation Management System in Japan, and we’ll keep working tirelessly to deliver global success for Japanese enterprises. We hope the country achieves success in other arenas too. As a visitor to Japan, you’ll be greeted by a smiling population determined to make your stay as enjoyable as possible. This is why so many of us want Japan to get the opportunity it deserves to show the world how to host an Olympics. We want these people to be rewarded for their omotenashi.
It’s our way of saying ありがとうございました