Memories from my Tour to Three Countries of Northern Europe

北欧3国の思い出


数年前に大手企業主催の北欧への視察会があり、一生に一度は行ってみたい国々でもあったので喜んで参加しました。42名の団体で6日間に3国4都市を巡る旅で過密スケジュールでしたが、若干の自由時間もあり北欧特有の文化の一端を感じることができました。

Several years ago, I willingly took part in a tour of inspection, which was organized by a certain large company, to Northern Europe because I had long wanted to go there even once in my life. The tour of 42 members was very packed: 4 cities in 3 countries within 6 days; however, I still freely enjoyed some of the cultures peculiar to North Europe in a short period of time.

最初はフィンランドのヘルシンキです。中心街に向かうバスの車窓からみる光景が過去訪れた海外のどの都市とも異なり、緑の木々以外は白亜の建物が立ち並ぶやや無機的にも見える異空間に来た感覚で新鮮でした。ロンドンやパリやローマのような歴史を感じる重厚な建物ではなく、高さがほぼ均一で調和がとれたビルが整然と並んでいました。通りには原色を使った派手な広告や看板は全く無く、清潔感に溢れていること、人も自動車も少なく街全体が静かで穏やかなことに感動しました。

First, we visited Helsinki in Finland. The scenery seen from the window of the bus bound for the midtown area seemed very fresh to me: a little inorganic and unusual space with green trees and white buildings, different from any other foreign country. There weren’t any profound historical buildings like in London, Paris and Rome, and harmonious buildings of almost the same height stood regularly. The streets without any flashy advertisements or signboards in garish colors were quite clean, and the entire towns with fewer people and cars were quiet and peaceful. All of them made me very impressed.

自転車の利用者が多く専用道路が完備しているため、通りがスムーズに流れていることも整然に見える一因のようです。市街を散策すると自動販売機、露天商、違法な駐車・駐輪、路上のゴミやタバコの吸い殻などは全く見られず、フィンランド国民の道徳性の高さが感じ取れます。時間の流れがとても緩やかに感じられてゆったりとした気持ちになったのですが、私がいつも雑然とした都市で時間に追われるせわしない生活に慣れきっていてそれが普通と思い込んでいるからなのでしょう。

One of the reasons why the streets looked orderly was the well-equipped cycling paths. I found the people of Finland had a high level of morality because I didn’t see any vending machines, stalls, illegally parked cars and bicycles, garbage or cigarette-butts on the streets when I was walking around. I could relax very much during the slowly passing time maybe because I thought it natural to live restlessly and busily in the crowded city.

ヘルシンキ大学では学生のスピーチを聞かせてもらいましたが、日本への留学経験がないにも関わらず流暢な日本語を話し、内容も機知に富んでいて感動しました。多くのフィンランド人が英語は勿論、数か国語を普通に話せるとのことで、歴史的に地理的に必然性があるとしても勤勉で文化度が高い国民性だと思いました。

At the University of Helsinki, we listened to the students’ speeches and I admired their fluent and witty deliveries despite their inexperience of studying in Japan. I thought the Finns were a very diligent and highly cultured people because they could naturally speak some foreign languages as well as English, even after considering their necessity of learning foreign languages because of historical and geographical reasons.

次はノルウェーのオスロです。市庁舎で毎年ノーベル平和賞の授与式が行われるフロアを見学し、アルフレッド・ノーベルがスウェーデンとノルウェー両国の和解と平和を祈念して平和賞のみをノルウェーで行うことにしたことを知りました。北欧でも長い間隣国同士がいがみ合う歴史があったことに驚きです。

Next, we visited Oslo in Norway. We looked around the floor of City Hall, where the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony is held every year, and I learned that Alfred Nobel decided to hold only the Peace Prize award ceremony in Norway wishing for the reconciliation and peace between Sweden and Norway. I was surprised to know the history of the long conflict between the two neighboring countries even in Northern Europe.

市庁舎の入り口には北欧神話の大きな壁画が並んでいて最高神オーディンや美の女神フレイアなどが物語風に描かれています。私の家ではミニチュアシュナウザーという犬を飼っているのですが、4年前13歳で亡くなった雌犬はフレイア、現在16歳の雄犬はオーディン、2歳弱の雌犬2匹はスクルドとウルドです。いずれも息子が北欧神話に出てくる神々の名前から命名しているので、犬たちを思い浮かべながら興味深く壁画に見入ってしまいました。後で同じ団体の数人に自慢げにその話しをしたら、少しは面白がってもらえましたがほぼスルーされてしまい残念でした。

At the entrance of City Hall, there were big wall paintings with the motif of Norse mythology, where the supreme god Odin and the goddess Freya with other gods and goddesses were painted in a narrative style. I had and have miniature schnauzers which were named after Norse mythology: Freya was a female dog which passed away 4 years ago at the age of 13, Odin is a 16-year-old male dog, Skuld and Ould are female dogs which are a little younger than 2 years old. My son named them after a god and goddesses of Norse mythology; therefore, I thought of my dogs when I was looking at the wall paintings. Later, I proudly talked about my dogs and their names, but unfortunately, they showed only a little interest in my story.

オスロを出てスカンディナビア山脈の南端を横断するベルゲン鉄道とフロムに通じる登山鉄道に乗って荒々しい山々を縫うように進みました。10月末でも辺りは深い雪で覆われていて、北欧神話の中にいるような幻想的で美しい風景を忘れることはできません。車内には液晶モニターがあって観光ガイドを流していますが、英語、フランス語だけでなく日本語もあって驚きです。如何に多くの日本人がフィヨルドやオーロラ観光に訪れているかが分かります。

We left Oslo and moved along a zigzag railroad in the rough mountains by the Bergen Railway which ran through the southern tip of the Scandinavian mountains and the mountainous railway for Flam. The land was covered with deep snow even at the end of October and I could not forget the fantastic and beautiful scenery as if I had been in Norse mythology. The sightseeing guide on the LCD monitor in the vehicle was performed in English, French and Japanese, to my surprise. It showed that so many Japanese went there for a fjord and aurora tour.

フロム港に着きフィヨルド遊覧船に乗ろうとしたのですが、乗船時間を過ぎても係員が出てきません。船員たちは悠然と煙草を吸ったりしてのんびりしているように見え、乗客たちは少しいら立っていましたが、1時間ほどしてエンジントラブルで修理中とのアナウンスがあり、結局2時間遅れで出航となりました。夕方近くになってしまったので、出向して少しすると日が落ちて辺りは真っ暗になり折角のフィヨルドの絶景が見えなくなってしまいました。更に雨模様になり霧が出てきたこともあって乗客は船室で過ごすしかなくなりまました。ただ、真っ暗な中に所々集落の明かりがぼんやりと見えて幻想的かつ神秘的な雰囲気を楽しむことができました。

We were supposed to transfer from the train to the fjord sightseeing boat at Flam Harbor, but no one in charge came out even after the boarding time. We were a little irritated to see the sailors smoking cigarettes relaxingly and leisurely. After about 1 hour, they announced that the boat was under repair because of engine trouble, and finally the boat left the harbor 2 hours behind schedule. It was almost evening when the boat put out to sea, so after a little while, the sun set, and we couldn’t see the superb view of the fjord any more in the total darkness. And what was worse, it became rainy and foggy, and we couldn’t do anything but stay in our cabin. Even so, I still enjoyed the fantastic and mysterious atmosphere of dim lights of scattered houses in the dark.

フロムからバスでオスロに戻る途中、世界遺産に登録されているボルグンド・スターヴ教会を見学しました。釘や金物を一切使わない高度な建築技術を駆使して12世紀に建造されたノルウェー国教会の木造建築物ですが、今もなお修復を重ねながら大切に保存されています。日本でも大ヒットしたディズニー映画「アナと雪の女王」に出てくるエルサの氷の宮殿のモデルになった場所だと後で知って、もっとよく見ておけば良かったと思いました。

On the way back from Flam to Oslo by bus, we had a look around Borgund Stave Church, World Heritage Site. It was a wooden architecture of the Church of Norway, which was built using advanced architectural technology without any nails or metallic material in the 12th century. This church has been repeatedly repaired and preserved in very good condition since it was built. Later, I thought that I should have looked around the church more to learn that this church was the model of Elsa’s ice palace in the Disney movie, “Frozen” which was a big hit in Japan.

オスロに戻り次の訪問国デンマークのコペンハーゲンまで大型客船で移動しました。夕方出航して翌朝に着くのですが、船上から見た東のスウェーデン側の朝焼けがとても美しく、西のデンマーク側には小高い丘の上にそびえ立つクロンボー城の荘厳な姿がとても印象的でした。

We went back to Oslo, and set sail for Copenhagen in Denmark, our next destination, on a large passenger ship. The ship left the harbor in the early evening and arrived the next morning. While I was on the board, I was deeply impressed by the beautiful morning glow in the eastern direction, the Sweden side, and Kronborg Castle towering solemnly on the small hill in the western direction, the Denmark side.

コペンハーゲンに着くと今までの幻想的で穏やかな雰囲気から一変して、人や車が多く行きかい、街全体が活気に溢れていてさすがにヨーロッパを代表する国際貿易都市だと感じました。時間の進み具合がもとに戻った感覚で心地良く感じたのは私だけではないように思いました。

Unlike the fantastic and calm atmosphere which I experienced in this tour, Copenhagen was a busy city with many people and cars, and it was one of the biggest international trade cities in Europe. The time passed as quickly as I felt in Japan, and it made not only me but also some of other tour members feel comfortable.

地元のガイドさんから最近デンマークのお土産で日本のセレブな奥様やお嬢さん達に人気があるのはスーパーマーケット「イヤマ(Irma)」のエコバッグ(500円程度)だと聞いていたので、チボリ公園を少し早めに切り上げてそのスーパーマーケットに行ってみたのですが、日本を代表するような企業のトップや役員である同じ団体の中高年のおじさん達がそのエコバッグ売場に群がり一人何枚も買い漁っていたので思わず笑ってしまいました。(自分もその内の一人なのですが)

The local tour guide gave us some information about a popular souvenir from Denmark to wealthy madams and ladies in Japan: an eco-bag sold at supermarket “Irma” for about JPY 500. Therefore, I left Tivoli a little earlier than the scheduled time and went to the supermarket. I laughed unconsciously to find other middle-aged and elderly male members of my tour were packing together and buying many eco-bags even though they all were presidents or directors of some of Japan’s best-known countries. (However, I also bought the eco-bag.)

今回はそれぞれの都市の滞在時間が短く代表的な観光スポットを駆け足で巡ったので表面的な見方しかできませんでしたが、もし再度北欧に行く機会があれば、今回訪れた3カ国に加えスウェーデンも長い時間をかけてゆっくりと鉄道で回り、観光案内に載っていないような田舎の町にも行って、より深く地元文化に接してみたいと思います。

In this tour, I stayed for a few days in each city and looked quickly and superficially around only famous sightseeing spots. If I have another chance to visit Northern Europe again, I want to spend a lot of time traveling by train around Sweden in addition to three countries I already visited, and I also want to experience local culture in rural towns which aren’t shown in tour guide books.

 

 

 

 

 

The Chinese Business Episode about a Banquet or Dinner

中国の会食におけるビジネスエピソード

中国において仕事上の会食をする時に備え予め知っておくべきマナーについては、海外ビジネス書物やネット情報などに多く記載されている通りですが、私の経験からこのマナーが会食を友好的で有意義なものにしているように感じたので紹介します。

In many books and on various sites on the internet related to business with foreign countries, Chinese table manners when having meals with clients, which we should know in advance, are written about. My experience showed me that these manners are very friendly and meaningful. I will introduce some of them here.

数年前、北京でローカル企業の幹部6人と会食をすることになり、中華料理店に弊方4名が招待されました。円卓の各席の前の皿の上に綺麗に折りたたんだナプキンとともに、赤いパッケージの煙草が置かれていました。私はその数年前に禁煙していたので、残念ながら喫煙は辞退させて欲しいと同席していたローカルスタッフに通訳をしてもらいましたが、お客様全員がニコニコ顔で頷きながら通訳に応答していました。それは全国人民代表大会(中国の議会)で出席者全員に配られる「中華」(chun-fa)という中国で最も高価で美味しい煙草のようでした。喫煙の経験があるのなら是非試してほしいとのことでした。中国の宴席ではもてなす側が煙草を勧めるのはマナーのひとつと聞いていたので、高官が吸う煙草とはどのようなものかという興味もあり一服させて頂いたのですが、なるほど甘く濃厚な香りが何とも美味しかったです。お世辞ではなく「好吃」(hao-chi:美味しい)を連呼すると、お客様には禁煙中なのに勧めに応じてくれたととても喜んで頂き、2本目以降は無理しないようにと言って頂きました。言うまでもなく煙草は吸いませんと拒否することも全く問題はないのですが、無理なく吸えるのであれば快く受けるのも招待を受ける側のマナーとして心得ておくと良いように思いました。その後の会食の場でも何度も煙草を勧められることがありましたが、禁煙しているとは言わず一服させて頂き、残りは仲間へのお土産にしました。

Several years ago, 4 members of my company were invited to dinner at a Chinese restaurant by our clients, 6 executives of a local company in Beijing. There was a red package of cigarettes beside a finely folded napkin on the dish on the round table in front of each of us. However, as I stopped smoking several years before, I asked the local employee to interpret that I was sorry, but I would not smoke. All the clients were smiling and talking with him. He told me that they were the most expensive and delicious cigarettes called “chun-fa”, which were distributed to all the attendants at the National People’s Congress (the Chinese assembly). They told me that I should try a puff if I had ever been a smoker. I had prior knowledge of Chinese manners about cigarettes: hosts are to offer cigarettes to their guests at a party or dinner. Besides, I was interested in cigarettes which government officials would smoke, so I accepted their offer. Indeed, I enjoyed the sweet and rich flavor of the cigarette and said repeatedly to them, “Hao-chi! Hao-chi!” without flattery. The clients were glad that I accepted their offer, though I had given up smoking, and told me that I did not have to smoke another cigarette if I didn’t want to. Needless to say, they didn’t mind at all even if I declined to smoke, but it is regarded as a good manner to accept their offer pleasantly if I can without any trouble. Afterward, I was offered cigarettes many times, so I smoked only 1 cigarette without telling them that I gave up smoking, and brought the rest of the cigarettes back to my coworkers.

次にアルコールについてですが、国際都市上海ではビール、ワイン、紹興酒が多く、北京や天津など北の方ではアルコール度数の高い白酒(bai-jiu)が定番のようです。中国ではどのような宴席でも(家族や友達との食事でも)必ず「老板」(rao-pan:取り仕切る人)と言われる一番偉い人が決まっていて、多くの場合その人の合図で最初の乾杯(干杯gan-bei:一気飲み)が行われます。その後は自分だけで飲むことは好ましくないとされ、必ず誰かと目を合わせ複数の人と一緒に飲むのが礼儀ですが、白酒の場合は小さなグラスとはいえアルコール50度前後の強い酒なので酔い潰れないように注意が必要です。会話の合間に老板は自分のグラスでテーブルをコンコンと叩き全員の乾杯(干杯)を促します。この時は皆一斉に飲み干し、その証明としてグラスの底を他の人に見せます。

Next, speaking of alcoholic drinks, in Shanghai, a cosmopolitan city, beer, wine and Shaoxing rice wine are usually drunk, and in Beijing or Tianjin, the north part of China, bai-jiu (a Chinese alcoholic beverage made from grain with high alcohol) is popular. In China, at any banquet or dinner (even among family or friends), a person in the highest position among them, who is called “rao-pan” (a chief), usually proposes the first toast (gan-bei: drinking up without pausing), and all the people present follow him. Even after the first drink, drinking alone is regarded as unfavorable, so it is considered to be polite that several people look one another in the eyes and drink at the same time. When we drink bai-jiu with about 50% of the alcohol content even in a small glass, we need to be careful of not getting “blind drunk”. The rao-pan sometimes taps a table with his glass to propose a toast to all, and then everyone drinks up his glass, and shows others its bottom for proof.

また老板だけではなく、もてなす側の全ての人は常に気配りしていて、接待相手の箸が止まった時や話しが途切れた時を見計らって、にこやかに目を合わせてグラスを持ち上げ乾杯の催促をします。飲めない人は最初から水やお茶でもよいし、途中で辛くなった時に「干杯」ではなく「隋意」(sui-yi、飲む量は自由に)と言えばペースを落とすこともできるので、煙草と同じように無理をする必要はないのですが、弱くても限界近くまでお付き合いすると仕事仲間として認めてもらえ、とても懇意になれることは間違いないようです。特に国営企業の幹部は初対面では立場上強面で表面的な会話しかできませんが、会食でお酒を酌み交わした後は殆どの方に気さくに接して頂くことができました。

Not only rao-pan, but also any other host member is always careful of all guests, and they smilingly make eye contact and lift a glass for a toast when a guest stops eating or talking. If we don’t drink alcohol, we can drink water or tea from the beginning, or if you cannot drink alcohol any more, you can slow down by saying “Sui-yi” (drinking as much as you like) instead of “Gan-bei!” (Bottoms up!) Like cigarettes, we don’t have to force alcohol on ourselves. However, there is no doubt that they will accept us as close business partners when we drink as much as possible with them even if we easily get drunk. Especially, executives of national enterprises looked tough for the first time and only had a superficial talk, but after drinking together at a banquet or a dinner, most of them became friendly with us.

日本国内の宴席ではビジネストークを極力避ける傾向にあります。対照的に、中国の宴席は互いの人間性を知り合う貴重な社交場であり、ビジネストークも含めとても開放的です。中国人の多くは陽気で友好的であり、会食のマナーはおもてなしの心から生まれたものだと思います。

In a Japanese banquet or dinner, business talk tends to be avoided. In contrast, a banquet and dinner in China are an important social meeting place to know one another, where they talk very openly including business matters. Chinese people are usually cheerful and friendly, and their table manners seem to be based on the spirit of hospitality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Taiwan Travel Memory

台湾旅行の思い出

台湾へは出張で何度も渡航したことがありましたが、残念ながら観光する時間はありませんでしたので、夏休みを利用して息子と共に観光名所を回るツアーに参加しました。出発日直前まで台湾近海を通過中の台風の影響が懸念されていたのですが、我々を乗せた飛行機は関西国際空港を出発しほぼ定刻に台北松山空港に到着することができました。入国審査を待っている時、息子が「嵐だ。」と言うのでてっきり外の天候のことだと思い「台風の影響だろうね。」と返事をしたのですが、「違うよ。ほら、嵐だよ。」とささやき、我々のすぐ横で列に並ぼうとしている若者達を視線で示したのです。どこにでも居そうな普通の若者のようでしたが、よく見ると人気歌手グループ「嵐」のメンバーだったのです。羽田から彼らを乗せた便が遅れて我々の便とほぼ同時に着いたみたいで、そのお蔭で人気芸能人を間近に見ることができてラッキーでした。その後無事に入国審査を終え、預けた荷物を受け取って到着ロビーに出た瞬間、カメラの凄いフラッシュとロビーを埋め尽くした大勢の女性ファンの大歓声で迎えられたのです。我々のすぐ前に「嵐」のメンバーが出たので大騒ぎになっていたのですが、邪魔してはいけないという思いと、こちらまで人気者になったような錯覚が入り混じって妙な感覚でした。翌日の現地新聞を見ると到着ロビーで出迎えを受ける嵐のメンバーの写真が大きく載っていて、もう数メートル接近していれば一緒に写っていたと思うと少し残念な思いがしました。

I have been to Taiwan several times on business, but unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time for sightseeing on my business trips; therefore, I participated in a tour of sightseeing spots with my son during our summer vacation.
In spite of our anxiety about the typhoon in the sea near Taiwan, till just the previous day, we left Japan. Our flight from Kansai International Airport arrived at Taipei Songshan Airport almost on schedule. While we were waiting in line for an immigration check, my son said to me, “Here comes Arashi!” (literally meaning “storm”), so I thought he was talking about the weather and replied to him, “Probably because of the typhoon.” He whispered to me, “No. Look, they are Arashi!” and turned his eyes to the young men who were coming to the end of the line just next to ours. They looked like ordinary young boys, but as I looked closely at them, I recognized them as members of a Japanese boy pop group, Arashi. Their flight from Haneda Airport (Tokyo International Airport) was delayed and theirs and ours arrived almost at the same time, so we luckily could see popular artists up close. We passed the immigration check, picked up our luggage and went out to the arrival lobby. At that moment, my son and I were welcomed by innumerable camera flashes and a great cheer by female fans who covered the lobby. Actually, Arashi, walking just ahead of us, caused this turmoil. We had mixed feelings that we didn’t want to bother them or that we were under the illusion of being popular stars ourselves. The next day, big photos of Arashi in the arrival lobby were in local newspapers. If only we had walked several meters closer to them, we would have also been in the newspapers.

このツアーはとても新鮮に感じ主な観光名所を満喫することができました。それに加えて、空港の大騒ぎの一件ともう一つ、フリータイムに台湾に長年住んでいる仕事仲間に会い、とても興味深い体験をさせてもらいました。ツアー二日目、日中の観光メニューを終えて夕方その仕事仲間と待ち合わせて食事をした後のことでした。少しドライブをしてみませんかと誘われ、タクシーに乗って30分ほど郊外へ出て、小高い山の細くて暗い道をくねくねと登って行きます。辺りは車のライト以外の明かりはなく漆黒の山の中です。どこか尋ねると有名な茶畑がある地区(木柵地区、猫空=マオコン)だそうで、お茶を飲みに行くようです。さらに山奥に進むと「茶芸館」(お茶を飲ませてくれる店)の明かりと看板があり、そこでタクシーを降りて店の中に入りました。

In this tour, everything was just new to me, and I fully enjoyed popular sightseeing spots. Besides the uproar in the airport, we had a very interesting experience during our free time of the tour thanks to one of my working companions. On the second day of the tour, after sightseeing during the daytime, we met him and had dinner. After dinner, he asked us if we would like to have a drive, so we took a taxi to the suburbs for about 30 minutes and went along the winding road up to the hill in the pitch-black darkness, where only lights of the vehicles were seen. I asked him where we were, and he answered we were in the tea plantation area (the Muzha District, Maokong) to drink tea. We went deeper into the mountains, got out of the taxi at the tea house with lights and a signboard, and entered the shop.

店内には受付のようなカウンターがありました。いろいろなお茶の缶やお菓子が並んでいる壁の棚から好きな茶葉と茶菓子を買って入りました。お湯と茶器が置いてあるところに行って自分たちで淹れ、好きな席に運んでお茶を楽しみました。その仕事仲間は台湾の大学を卒業していて、学生の頃から茶芸館によく出入りしていたそうで手慣れたものです。

There was a counter like a reception in the tea house. We bought tea leaves and some sweets from shelves with tea cans and sweets on the wall, and made tea for ourselves at the place where boiled water and tea sets were equipped. We could choose seats wherever we liked to enjoy the self-made tea. The working companion, who graduated from a university in Taiwan, often came to this tea house since he was a university student; therefore, he seemed accustomed to making tea.

お茶を飲むお店といっても広大な敷地で、屋外に大きなテラスが3、4層の階段状になっていて、たくさんのテーブルが配置され椅子は数百席あるようでした。すでに夜10時を過ぎていましたが、学生らしき10数人のグループが大きな声で談笑していたり、カップルが仲良くお茶を淹れ合っていたり、たくさんの人がお茶を楽しんでいてとても良い雰囲気でした。木柵地区にはこのような茶芸館が点在していて、観光客は少なく地元の人たちの憩いの場になっています。山の中で市街地より気温が数度低いため、特に暑い時期は夜に多くの人が利用していて、若い人達は明け方まで議論したり楽しく会話したりすることもあるそうです。たくさんの種類がある茶葉や茶器の選び方、お茶の淹れ方、飲み方などとても興味深く、台湾人の生活に密着した文化の一部分に触れることができてこのツアーで一番印象に残っています。旅行ガイドブックにも紹介されていますが、街中にある茶芸館に行く人が多く、実際に茶畑まで行く人は少ないようですので、台北に行く予定がある方には必ず木柵地区の茶芸館をお勧めしています。

That was not a common tea house but had many tables with hundreds of chairs on the large terrace in the shape of 3 or 4-layer stairs on the huge site. It was already past 10 p.m., but a group of a dozen members who appeared to be students were loudly chatting, a couple were happily pouring tea for each other and many others were enjoying tea in a very good atmosphere. Tea houses like this were dotted in the Muzha District. Tourists rarely visited them, but many local people would relax there. The tea houses were in the mountain where it was cooler by some degrees, so especially at night in the hot season, many people came to the tea houses. Young people sometimes had an argument or chatted until dawn. We were much interested in how to choose tea leaves and tea sets among many variations; how to make tea and how to drink tea. This experience in which we came in touch with a part of Taiwanese life was left most vividly in our minds. These tea houses are introduced in travel guidebooks, however, not so many tourists went all the way to the tea plantation area, but they go to the tea houses in the downtown area. Therefore, I always recommend the tea houses in the Muzha District to those who plan to go to Taipei.

 

 

 

Business Episodes in Singapore

シンガポールにおけるビジネス余話

約20年前、シンガポール西部にある日系大手電機メーカーの現地工場で生産システムに異常が発生したため、日本から技術支援に来てほしいとの要請があり、技術者を連れて初めて同国に出向きました。

About 20 years ago, at a factory of a major Japanese electric appliance maker in the western part of Singapore, a production system had some problems, so my company was requested to provide technical support and I went to Singapore with an engineer for the first time.

海岸に面した巨大な工場の生産ラインで原因究明している途中で、お昼休憩となり社員食堂で昼食をいただきました。まず食堂が大きく清潔で設備が充実していること、また料理の美味しさと種類の多さに驚かされました。従業員の採用対象は中国系、マレー系、インド系など様々な人種であり、良質な人材を獲得し長期雇用するためには、福利厚生施設の充実と労働環境の良さで欧米からの進出企業に格差をつける必要があるようでした。

While we were investigating the cause of the trouble of the production system in the huge factory on the shore, we had lunch at the staff cafeteria. I was surprised that the big and clean cafeteria, which was fully equipped with facilities, sold a wide variety of dishes and what I ate was very delicious. The recruiting targets of the factory were various races including ethnic Chinese, Malays and Indians, so satisfying welfare facilities and a good labor environment were necessary to obtain high-quality workers for the long term, somewhat different from local European companies.

さらに従業員のマナーの良さと礼儀正しさにも驚かされました。 同工場の日本人管理職に聞くと、採用後に一通りの教育はしますが、日本式のマナーや礼儀を強要したことはないそうです。人種の違いで考え方や表現の仕方が異なりますが、社内の共通語は英語(所謂シンガポール英語のシングリッシュ)で、お互いの意思の疎通に問題はないとのことです。 一概に勤勉で真面目な人が多く、従業員同士のトラブルもないと聞きました。

In addition, I was also surprised at the employees’ good manners and courtesy. I asked a Japanese manager why they acted like that, and he told me that he provided general work training but never forced them to accept Japanese-style manners and courtesy. Ways of thinking or expressing oneself varied from race to race, but they could smoothly communicate with each other in English (Singaporean English: what is called Singlish). Generally, many of the employees were hardworking and no disagreements seemed to occur among them.

シンガポールでは中国系が人口の約74パーセントを占めており教育程度も高く、14パーセントのマレー系や9パーセントのインド系の国民を圧倒しているようでした。 技術打合せにおいても中国系の人々が積極的に発言することが多く、上昇志向と自己主張の強さを感じました。 彼らはアジア圏の様々な国で強い存在感を示しています。

In Singapore, Chinese, who accounted for about 74 percent of all the population, seemed to outnumber Malays (14 percent) and Indians (9 percent). Chinese tended to speak assertively in the technical meetings, and they seemed to have strong ambitions to rise in the world and have their own ways. In many Asian countries, they play important roles.

昼食を終えて外の空気を吸いに建物を出たときに、再び驚きました。 早朝チャンギ空港に着いて同工場にタクシーで移動した時には気持ちいい晴天であったにもかかわらず、昼には辺り一面が薄暗く焦げ臭い臭いが漂っていました。 おそらく近隣で火事があったのだろうと普通に考えましたが、現地従業員に対岸のインドネシアのスマトラ島からマラッカ海峡を超えてマレー半島に流れてくる野焼きや山火事の煙だと教えてもらいました。 それにしても目に染みるし、むせこむような酷い煙でした。 現地の人達はマスクをするでもなく平然としていて、住民の健康面への影響はないのだろうか心配になりました。  4月から9月の乾季だけで毎日ではなく、一日の内でも風の強さや向きにより影響度は変わるみたいであり、我慢できないほどではないのかも知れませんでした。 なるほど夕方その日の仕事を終えた時には煙たさはほぼ消えていました。 この煙害(ヘイズ)については長年に亘り関係国の政府間で改善に向けて対策を講じているようですが、未だに妙策はないようでした。

I was surprised again when I went out of the building for a breath of fresh air after lunch. I smelt something burning all around though it was nice and clear when I came from Changi Airport to the factory by taxi in the early morning. I naturally thought there was a fire in the neighborhood, but one of the local workers told me that it was the smoke of a burning field or a forest fire from Sumatra Island in Indonesia beyond the Malacca Channel to the Malay Peninsula. The really terrible smoke made my eyes tingle and my throat choke. Local people without masks didn’t seem to care about the smoke. It was said that the smoke came only during the dry season, from April to September, and it didn’t come every day, but I was worried about the influence on the residents’ health. It was also said that the degree of influence of the smoke changed by the power or direction of the wind even for one day, so they might endure the smoke. Indeed, the smoke almost disappeared when I finished my work in the evening. The governments of related countries have long taken measures to reduce this smoke pollution (haze), but they have not reached a conclusion yet.