By the entrance to the conference room, there was a flip chart with a message: “Please sign in here, and then go through the door and say good morning to the room”.
“OHAYO GOZAIMAAASU!” I yelled. (GOOD MORNING!)
We had practiced this yesterday. “In Japanese workplaces,” they told us, “you must greet the room enthusiastically when entering.”
As I took my seat, I noticed that some trainees had been given a piece of card by staff as they entered.
A member of staff took to the podium. “Well done everybody on your amazing greetings this morning. You sounded so energetic and loud!
“Those of you who’ve been given a card, your greetings were not quite as genki (energetic) as they could have been. Have a think about that.”
I was at a week’s training for my new job as Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) in Nagoya.
I wasn’t sure about the method of handing out cards to let some people know their greetings weren’t up to regulation enthusiasm standards. But I got the message - greetings are important.
Fast-forward three months, and I was teaching in Junior High school. Every morning, I’d take my shoes off in the entryway to the school and change into my indoor slippers. I’d slide open the door to the staffroom, and greet the room: “OHAYO GOZAIMAAASU!”
“Ohayo gozaimasu!” other teachers would say back, at varying volumes and with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Good morning!
A few minutes later, the vice principal passed by my desk:
Fran-sensei wa, aisatsu ga itsumo genki desu ne.
(“Your morning greetings are always so cheerful!”)
Sou desu ka. Arigatou gozaimasu.
(“Is that so? Thank you.”)
I smiled all day.