So the other day my university has this big meeting for the entire faculty...
I wonder if anyone's ever done a serious study of meetings in the Japanese workplace. What a treasure trove of fascinating information is just sitting here waiting to be dug up by some industrious academic go-getter. In over 8 years of working in Japan I must have attended at least, oh, I don't know, 75 trillion meetings, give or take. There are two or three things that the careful observer will notice about any meeting in Japan, regardless of the occupations of those attending:
1a. Before the meeting a memo will be passed out to all staff who are to attend. The meeting will consist of one or more people reading the contents of the memo.
1b. (Usually for larger meetings) No memo has been passed out before the meeting. Instead, all those attending will be given a thick handout on their way into the meeting room. The meeting will consist of one or more people reading the contents of the handout.
1c. The same as 1b, except that the contents of the handout will also be on display as part of a PowerPoint presentation.
2. It is a requirement at Japanese meetings that at least (but no more than) 20-25% of those attending be fast asleep within 10 minutes of the meeting's commencement. There must always be at least two people sleeping during any meeting (it would be considered rude to be the only one sleeping), meaning that at meetings of fewer than 10 people sleeping is forbidden (although I'm convinced that many Japanese have mastered the art of sleeping with their eyes open).
3. The mere hint of anything that might be considered useful, interesting, or mildly amusing is strictly forbidden at Japanese meetings.
...Anyway, as I was saying, my university had a big meeting the other day. The purpose of the meeting was to instruct faculty on a newly installed database system that we can use to input our published research (yeah, right...) and reference the research of others. This was a 1c-type meeting--big handout and PowerPoint.
Now, friends, know my horror: at these meetings everything is in Japanese--the speakers speak in Japanese, that handouts are written in Japanese, the PowerPoint is (amazingly) no less annoying in Japanese. I'm so tired...