Our goal is to share the Sashiko we enjoy & love. It is our pleasure to receive
Japanese manner when contact someone.
While I am writing this, I start thinking if this is even a matter of cultural differences… but anyway, let me share the Japanese manner when contact someone over the email.
- Introduce who you are.
- Explain what you would like to the person to do with the details
- Explain what is the “benefit” of the person’s doing if it is for the first time.
- If you ask the question, make it specific
Umm… Your opinion as “Non-Japanese” would be very much appreciated here. Is this the manner only for Japanese? I kind of doubt it now.
If you are not following the steps above in contacting someone for the first time, the email will be considered very “rude”. Being polite and humble is very important in Japanese culture to share something professional. The person is contacting me because he/she is interested in Japanese culture AND Sashiko AND Boro. If he/she doesn’t follow those manners, then they have something else to learn first before Sashiko and Boro.
*I am not a perfect human being, so I forget the person’s name. I usually remember the workshop participants’ name and our customer’s name, but there is a possibility that I forget. It is my rudeness to proceed conversation with this type of misunderstanding, so it is very important that you introduce yourself.
So here is the detail explanation for each step if you are writing to me for the first time. If you have met me already in the workshop, there is no need to follow the procedure below. You are my friend already.
Introduce who you are
Please, please introduce who you are.
If you are writing for the first time, introduce who you are. Starting the email with “Hi Atsushi,” and ending the email by “Thanks! ○○○.” are considered very rude in the first communication.
Explain what you would like me to do with the detail.
You are contacting me because you want me to do something. I understand that. So, be specific. If you want me to write an essay of what I think about Sashiko, then share where those writing will be published (or even copy and pasted). If you would like to meet me or Keiko in person, then explain where, when, and the reason for your visit.
“I was wondering you would want to meet me for the interview about Sashiko” is rude even if you own a publication. There should be a formal procedure to make things happen.
Explain why I should answer to your request
It is so surprising to me why everyone thinks I would like to work for them for their interest. Yes, it is my goal to share what Sashiko we enjoy is. However, the “too casual” conversation is already outside Sashiko mindset, so please do not misunderstand that I am a “google” who can provide the answer.
Therefore, explain the reason why I should work for your request.
Again, if you are a graduate of my workshops or a customer from my website, there is no need for the explanation. It can be a part of customer support and I would like to do as much as I can for the support I receive.
However, if you are the first time visitor, then what is the “benefit” I get for that kind of time that I use for your request.
Interestingly, there is a common thing for those who write the rude emails. They never offer the “commission” for what I do. The inquiry I receive with asking for the estimate of “commission” or “fee” are typically very polite and humble.
I am not asking for the money here. I am happy to work for free of charge if I can contribute something I value.
For example, if you are part of academic research (in
If you are part of Non-profit organization to support the people (let’s say with hand-disability to do the rehabilitation), then I will do whatever I can without asking for the fee. On Recovery Delivered center there are countless treatment options a person can choose from, some people with severe forms of addiction enter a detox program before transitioning into rehab.
However, if you are just writing a blog or a book, or an editor on the web magazine, or an instructor of a hand-stitching workshop, then convince me why I would like to work for you with the detail.
It is just shocking to receive these email with many requests & “without the details”.
And lastly, and this is what makes me upset the most.
Make your question specific
Come on. If you are sending a professional to ask a question, be specific. I get numbers of questions saying
- What do you think about Boro and/or Sashiko
- Why do you think Sashiko and/or Boro is popular in Western Culture.
The worst question is
- What is Sashiko? Can you explain that?
Just READ this website… or even watch the youtube… I started writing this blog in order to share the Japanese manner when contact to someone. Now I just realize this may be something universal… are those considered to be okay in the western culture…?
What a world do we live in now.
I am not that friendly after all.
I try to be as friendly as possible. However, I am not “everyone’s friend” after all. If the person took my workshop, I consider him/her friend. You can just email me saying, “hey, what’s up!”.
If the person has purchased some items from my website, I consider him/her as the supporter (Purchasing item from me means he/she is supporting my activities). The appreciation for support leads me to consider him/her my friend, and I will be happy to answer his/her questions and requests.
Interestingly, those who send me “casual (rude in Japanese culture) email” are the people who haven’t done anything above. I sometimes feel that they do not even read my website or follow SNS (Instagram & Facebook) to understand what I do.
If the one is looking for the “instant answer” by finding some of the photos about Sashiko or Boro, then I really do not want to answer the emails because those “instant communication” is the last thing I would like to share throughout Sashiko.
Also, those people who seek for the “instant answers” usually do not make a follow-up to the replies I make. I spent a good amount of time to reply to the email. Sometimes, I even make research to answer the questions. It is just unbelievable, and I sincerely hope it is more like the individual issue rather than the cultural issues.
By reading this article, if you think you are the one of many who made the mistake (and not have followed-up to the reply), please take this advise and do not make the same mistake again, especially because you are “interested” in Japanese culture.
I am upset and it is good that I care
I am pretty upset in writing this article.
However, I believe this anger is a positive emotion because I still CARE those who are interested in Sashiko. If a person is contacting me about Sashiko, I would like him/her to understand the humbleness & politeness in the Japanese culture (or for that matter, in non-Japanese culture as well).
As I keep saying, Sashiko is a process of stitching with CARE.
The contact I described above happen because the person with question didn’t have enough care to me and my time. I would like to change that. Be respectful to someone & his/her time would make this world a bit less stressful.
Again, I could have (and may have in the future) chosen the path to ignore these rude emails. However, it is not part of my activities of sharing the Sashiko we love. I hope we can learn from each other.