About Culture Japan

POSTED BY DANNY CHOO On Sun 2013/06/23 23:46 JST in Japan

Update - we are not accepting any more job applications at this time.

What is Culture Japan?

Culture Japan’s mission is to share and make Japanese culture more accessible to the world. We do this through the web and mobile platforms that we develop and run, the TV shows that we produce, the merchandise that we develop and the events that we roll out worldwide - all with the help of our mascot character Mirai Suenaga.

Located in the heart of Tokyo Metropolis, we cover all aspects of Japanese Culture including Fashion, Pop Culture, Technology, Gourmet, and Daily Life - we even provide information on how to get a drivers license, get a health checkup, buy a house or even get yourself cloned.

What do we do?

We do a variety of things which contributes to our mission of sharing Japanese Culture which include:-

  • Disseminate information through our web properties such as this website Culture Japan and our social media networks such as our Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LINE, Instagram and more.
  • We produce terrestrial TV shows such as Culture Japan and Japan Mode which are broadcast across Japan and the world.
  • We produce global events such as Culture Japan Night and Culture Japan Convention which focus on gathering like minded folks to network with each other. We also help with the production of the world's biggest anime events - Anime Expo and Anime Festival Asia.
  • We develop character brands - our main character is Mirai Suenaga - a Japanese high school girl and heroine of the story Mirai Millennium. Mirai is also known as “Mirai-chan.”

    Mirai has made appearances in Japanese games, anime and has collaborated with companies such as Air Asia, Touch ‘n Go, Kinokuniya, Good Smile Company, Bushiroad, Ascii Media Works, King Records, Nitroplus and more - click all those links to see details.

  • We manufacture and distribute the popular Japanese language learning flash cards Moekana and Moekanji. We currently have sold tens of thousands of packs worldwide with more being planned to join the series.
  • We manufacture and soon will be distributing the interactive line of robot dolls known as Smart Doll.
  • We develop and license a web publishing system called Mirai Gaia which this website runs on. We also develop mobile iOS and Android applications.

    Some of the companies that use our web technology are mostly in the anime industry and include Konami, Production IG, King Records, Good Smile Company, Bushiroad, Kadokawa, Ascii Media Works, Yuzu Soft, SEGA, Sony Computer Science and more.

  • More details of what we do is covered in my profile and the money entry.

How is our company doing now?

The best thing about our business is that we don't do it for the money - we do it because we simply love Japanese culture - it has changed our lives and we want more people to discover it so that it can change their lives too.

I believe that if you continue focusing on what you love - you will eventually end up with a strong business or personal brand - the money will *always* come later. You need to believe in what you do and stick through it no matter how tough the going gets. Many folk say that its difficult to make a living from being passionate - who said it had to be easy?!

Its been a tough few years and we continue to face challenges everyday but we are slowly getting on track to where we want to go.
For the fiscal year of 2012, our total revenue amounted to nearly 50 million yen (half a million USD) - the Mirai Suenaga brand accounted for most of it.

While we generated 50 million yen in 2012, we spent nearly the same amount too ^^;

Why is this OK? Because not only do we get to do what we enjoy, we also get to learn a lot on the way too.
It's still day one for our company and I believe that we need to invest cash to gain learnings and experience so that we can identify areas where we can cut costs, spend wisely, generate more cash and more importantly - create an environment where we can not only work hard but also play hard.

In the Why Money Doesn't Motivate Me entry, I describe how it's not about making money - it's about doing what we love and when we do so money just comes naturally.

We immediately pour cash back into the company to enable it to grow which is why we are hiring right now. I dont have expensive hobbies which I need to fuel by increasing my wages - in fact I get paid the lowest among all my staff!

Profits made by the company will always go back into growing the company or dishing out bonuses to staff who have gone above and beyond. If we didn't do this then profits gets taxed like no tomorrow ^^;

Because our focus is not money and don't have investors to please, we are not afraid to spend money to try out new things.
Regarding your new ideas, many companies would say “yeah we can try that as long as we break even.”
I say “If we can learn and gain an experience which will enable us to either do things more efficiently or make profits in the future then it does not matter if we break even for this project.”

A company does indeed need money to grow but more importantly it needs knowledge and experience to enable it to grow smarter. A smart company does not need to worry about making money in the future. Knowledge is power.

It is through this way of long term thinking that has enabled us to reach this point where the business has become sustainable and ready for more growth.

What are the short term goals for Culture Japan?

  • At this moment of writing (2013/06), we will be expanding office space by moving to a new location this August and fill it initially with an additional 4 full time members of staff.
  • We also plan to launch an ecommerce website and implement logistics to support this new part of the business. The ecommerce site will initially focus on Mirai Suenaga merchandise and Smart Doll. As part of this move, we will be creating relationships with retailers worldwide and empower them with the contacts they need to help their business flourish.
  • We are currently in the midst of producing the original story for Mirai Suenaga called Mirai Millennium. The scenario is written by a very well known Japanese anime screenwriter who has brought us many historic titles - but I can't announce until contracts have been signed ><

    The scenario of Mirai Millennium is being written as a 13 part animation series but will most likely initially be released as a light novel.

  • Up until now, Mirai Gaia has been running on PHP which meant that we could only support about 800 connections per second - now we are on the RubyOnRails version, we can support millions of connections per second and can finally scale our online operations.
  • Right now we are still developing our line of interactive robots called Smart Doll - currently working on the outer shell, accessories, robotics, software and planning the mass production line and support center.

    These interactive companions which are controlled by an Android mobile device will also let you know when you get new mail, Facebook and Twitter notifications. New functionality will be downloadable via Google Play. Read more about Smart Doll.

What are the long term goals for Culture Japan?

  • If you read the How Discovering Japan Changed My Life entry, you will understand just how much Japanese culture has changed my life and I truly believe that it can change the lives of others too.
  • I want to continue to grow our reach by developing relationships with producers around the world and empower them with the tools and connections that enable them to share and be a part of the Culture Japan brand.
  • I have always worked in the technology field since I was a Computer Engineer at Japan Airlines. I moved onto being Website Manager at Amazon and then Product Manager at Microsoft.
    We will continue to work in the tech field by developing Mirai Gaia and supporting mobile applications and use it to expand our network.
  • I also want Smart Doll to be a household brand of interactive robots which enrich our lives by providing us with useful information that we require on a daily basis - like email and social media notifications.
  • I love Mirai Suenaga and I want her to do well. I want Mirai to be a global brand and have been making efforts on an international front to pave the way for further global development. The Kinokuniya, Touch n Go and AirAsia developments are just some examples.
  • We currently have 2 TV shows (Culture Japan and Japan Mode) - I want to do more seasons and increase the amount of territories that they are broadcast in.
  • One of my goals is to remain a small but nimble and efficient company that can output just as much (and more) than other companies with legions of staff.

    We will do this by focusing on the well being of staff and prioritize work to focus on the larger impacting stuff rather than the small stuff.

  • All staff are expected to identify areas of improvement in workflows or technology that we can use to help us do things faster. We invest money on things which make us smarter and not just invest in things that make more money.
  • Remember folks - it was single X-Wing Fighter and small team that brought down the Death Star ^^
  • These are just some of the longterm goals that I can talk publicly about - the rest is a surprise ^^;

Why Culture Japan?

Culture Japan is a brand recognized by the Japanese government and is often referenced by global news and TV networks on and offline which include CNET, CNN, Daily Mail, BBC and more.
We have a wide reach and constant exposure in press outlets worldwide which is utilized to showcase our productions and increase awareness of the Culture Japan brand.

Your implemented ideas will be immediately visible and affect millions of our consumers worldwide.

Culture Japan is a place where you can work together with a passionate team on a common mission to share your love for Japan. Through doing so, you will connect with complete strangers from all over the world who also love Japanese Culture.

Each member plays a vital role in the company and is given the responsibility to make decisions. We have been and are always willing to try new things which include implementing your creative ideas.

Positions available

Convinced? If so then check out the positions below to see what tickles your fancy.

Marketing Manager (Tokyo/Full Time)

Job Requirements
  • The focus of the Marketing Manager is to constantly think of and execute ideas that increases brand awareness leading to incremental consumers/readers/viewers of our brand while making efforts to reduce churn.
    The Marketing Manager will execute ideas that will be instantly viewable on a global scale by millions of consumers on and off-line.
  • Be expected to constantly identify weaknesses and potentials in areas of our current content publishing methods or social media platforms which are used to generate incremental readers and continue to engage our current user base.
  • The Marketing Manager will also manage the Culture Japan mascot Mirai Suenaga and constantly think of and execute content dissemination related to her activities and collaborations.
  • Be responsible for increasing brand awareness of all our mascot characters by identifying and executing collaborative projects with current and future clients. Recent collaborations include Kinokuniya, Air Asia, Touch n Go, Pixiv, Nitroplus & Good Smile Company.
  • Be responsible for creating and managing press releases and liaising with various press outlets. This includes identifying potential press outlets which have a wide reach.
  • Manage the schedule and content for domestic and international magazine interviews and columns.
  • Manage syndication of content with partnering websites.
  • Manage content for SNS such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumbr, Weibo, Google + etc.
  • Manage direction of Imouto (sister) web properties such as figure.fm and doll.fm.
  • Works with the Video Producer to manage licensing of our TV shows domestically and Internationally.
  • Manage contests and shipping of prizes.
  • Work closely with translators who localize marketing content.
  • This position requires the ability to work with ambiguity and the flexibility to work in an ever changing environment.
  • The KPI for the Marketing Manager is the continued increase of our brand consumers for our web properties, social media networks and TV viewers which will be monitored through social media networks.
Required skill set
  • Be familiar with current tools which automate the dissemination of content such as Twitter & Facebook scheduling services, newsletter tools and be aware of current and up and coming social networking platforms which can be utilized for marketing purposes.
  • Be familiar with and a regular user of a wide variety of social media services such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.
  • Has an understanding of international social media services and their strengths in each region - for example Weibo in China, Plurk in Taiwan etc.
  • Be familiar with a wide variety of Cloud services such as Google Docs, iCloud, Gmail, Monosnap etc
  • Does not have to be a Photoshop guru but needs basic graphic skills to create mockups.
  • Needs Japanese JLPT N2 or equivalent ability.
  • Needs fluent English ability.
If you are interested in this position
  • Imagine its your first week at Mirai Inc and all the staff have been kidnapped and all you see waiting for you on your desk is the above job requirements. This means there is nobody to ask questions and you need to just get on with your mission.
    The only person that can help you is Google Sensei and your knowledge of the Culture Japan brand.
    Prepare a proposal on what you want to do in the next 1 month, 5 months, 1 year and where you want to take the Culture Japan brand.
  • Submit your proposal with supporting mockups, videos or images. The length of the proposal depends on how imaginative you are. Do not just submit a wall of text. The Marketing Manager needs to be able to articulate their ideas with visuals too. I'm not looking for master pieces - monosnap is good enough for the job.
  • Write a press release about Smart Doll in English announcing that pre-orders are to open on December 25th 2013.
  • Explain with backing information whether you think that the next region to focus the Culture Japan brand would be Europe or Latin America.
  • Use either Keynote, Powerpoint, Word or Google docs and upload it to a private location on the web and share it with jobs at mirai dot fm.
  • There is no wrong or right answer to this test - it really does depend on your creativity and your ability to research.
  • Dont forget to spell check!
  • We wont be answering any questions regarding this test - you need to be able to work with ambiguity - just as long as you know what your mission is then you have more than enough to go on.
  • Together with your application, create a resume outlining what ninja foo you can do. I will leave it to you to decide what info it should have.
  • Also include a write up in Japanese on how you discovered Japanese culture and why you want to live and work in Japan - this can be as long as you want. If you already live in Japan, write how you came over instead.

Video Producer (Tokyo/Full Time)

Job Requirements
  • To produce and manage all aspects of our video properties for the Culture Japan brand which include TV broadcast material for terrestrial, cable and internet channels. Our current TV shows include Culture Japan and Japan Mode. Up and coming net programs include Tokyo Tea Time and Culture Japan Network TV.
  • Has experience in producing professional video footage using professional camera, sound and lighting equipment.
  • The Video Producer will be liaising with TV stations in Japan and worldwide to ensure that the footage is delivered on time and to spec through means of either tape, HDD or distribution systems such as Aspera.
  • Liaise with on-location management, management studios of voice actress and anime studios regarding schedules.
  • Liaise with external camera, sound, editing, lighting and makeup staff.
Required Skill Set
  • The Video Producer is expected to be familiar with and be able to use professional camera and sound equipment.
  • Be familiar with the various broadcasting standards (video and sound) and understand issues such as drop frames, sound levels, lighting frequencies, shutter speed etc.
  • Be seasoned in editing main footage, b-roll, inserts and text.
  • Macs are the industry standard in Japan when it comes to video editing so you need a good command of a mac and be able to use Final Cut Pro 7 and X.
  • Japanese proficiency should be N2 or higher.
  • Understand enough English to edit English dialog conversations.
  • A good sense of direction is also required and not just the operation of video equipment. For example, the Video Producer must always be wary of what footage is needed for editing - would the viewer be confused with the current script? Did we take the B-roll of that object that the voice actress picked up in the shop? Did we do a pan down of the shop front etc?
If you are interested in this position
  • Go to culturejapan.tv and download all episodes of Culture Japan season 2.
  • Make a 1 minute and 5 minute trailer choosing the bits which you feel are most interesting from the whole season using the video footage available. When you have finished, upload the rendered files to a location of your choice and share the link with me at jobs at mirai dot fm.
  • Also include in your submission a link to previous video footage that you have created and edited yourself together with a list of all the video editing packages that you are familiar with.
  • Together with your application, create a resume outlining what ninja foo you can do.
  • Also include a write up in Japanese on how you discovered Japanese culture and why you want to live and work in Japan - this can be as long as you want. If you already live in Japan, write how you came over instead.

Events & Retail Manager (Tokyo/Full Time)

Job Requirements
  • The Events & Retail Manager (ERM) manages the production of merchandise and is also responsible for the planning and execution of events which promote our brand and sell Mirai Suenaga merchandise.
  • Events include Culture Japan Night, Culture Japan Convention and booths that we organize in events across the globe which include Anime Expo and Anime Festival Asia.
  • Is expected to liaise with all parties concerned in event planning including sponsors, talent agencies, customs, construction, shipping and printing companies.
  • ERM is required to travel globally which can be a few times a month for extended periods of time.
  • Will generate relationships with retail stores and other local resources while they oversee booth rollout in each locale.
  • Work with retail stores domestically in Japan and abroad to ensure they are up to date with the latest information of products.
  • Manage logistics for domestic and global distribution of our products.
  • Manage POP & promotional material (Stickers, tarpaulin banners, Itasha etc)
  • Inventory Management using the up and coming online Culture Japan store.
  • Oversee the up and coming World Wide Anime Retail Store Directory.
Required Skill Set
  • Have a good command of SketchUp to design and render booth and hall layouts. If you dont know what SketchUp is then you can learn how to use it in 10 mins - and its free.
  • Photoshop and Illustrator skills is desired but not a requirement.
  • Equivalent to JLPT N3 or above is required for this position to be able to articulate ideas and instructions to various parties in Japan.
  • Excellent organisational skills to manage multiple events at a single time.
If you are interested in this position
  • Take a look at the following map for an up and coming event > http://note.io/14k18PD
    The arrows show the flow of people from the entrances. The red square is the location of our booth which will be 6 meters x 6 meters in size.
    We will be selling Moekana, Moekanji, Moekana T-shirts x 4 types, Mirai posters x 8 types and Smart Doll x 1 type.
    There will also be 1 large screen to show commercials for Smart Doll.
  • Given the above requirements, use SketchUp to create a design of the booth - no need to worry about budget for this test.
  • Make sure to take into consideration of flow of people and clearly mark on your SketchUp submission which way the booth is facing.
  • Render various views of the booth and zip up the images together with the SketchUp file. Then move onto the next test.
  • We also want to see what your inventory management skills are like. Create a Google doc spreadsheet which you will use to manage the inventory of our products before our ecommerce system is up. Lets presume that we have the following products to manage:-
    • Moekana 7000 cartons (36 packs per carton)
    • Moekanji 15000 cartons (40 packs per carton)
    • Smart Doll (600 units)
    • Moekana T-shirts (2000 pcs)
    • Mirai Carry Case (1000 pcs)
  • Share the Google document that you created with jobs at mirai dot fm.
  • The final test is to see if you know how to ask Google Sensei stuff - identify what Japan or anime events outside Japan you think we should participate in during 2014. List up all the information that you think I would need to make a decision as to whether we should attend these events - I'll leave it to you to decide what that information should be.
  • All test material should be sent to jobs at mirai dot fm.
  • Together with your application, create a resume outlining what ninja foo you can do.
  • Also include a write up in Japanese on how you discovered Japanese culture and why you want to live and work in Japan - this can be as long as you want. If you already live in Japan, write how you came over instead.

Graphic Designer (Tokyo/Full Time)

Job Requirements
  • The Graphic Designer will handle all aspects of graphic design creation for the Culture Japan brand which includes web, products, vehicles, publishing, events, mobile applications, anime and video production.
  • The Graphic Designer will also be expected to manage certain aspects of Mechanical Engineering which include sculpting in 3D and preparing the data to print prototypes on our in house 3D printer.
  • To work on creating concept art for the up and coming series of Mirai Millennium and other stories which we are planning on rolling out.
Required skill set
  • 2D packages = Sai, Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks
  • 3D packages = 3D Max, Lightwave, Zbrush (either)
  • CAD packages = SolidWorks, AutoCAD (either)
  • Video packages = Adobe Premiere, After Effects
  • Needs ability to work with Japanese fonts
  • Understanding of 3D sculpting and CAD tools such as 3D Max and SolidWorks (or equivalent)
  • Be familiar with 3D printing techniques and how to prepare data for printing using tools such as Netfabb.
  • Equivalent to Japanese proficiency JLPT N4 or higher.
  • Understand enough English for daily communication with staff in the office.
  • Pay ultra extreme attention to detail - 1 pixel off is just not good enough.
  • An online portfolio of work on either Pixiv or Deviantart is required for this position.
If you are interested in this position
  • Send links to your online portfolio which should include a collection of your 2D and 3D work to jobs at mirai dot fm
  • Make a poster of a "Mirai Suenaga concert" using any of the PSD files - the Mirai poster should replace this poster in this photo - do your best to make it look as realistic as possible given the various lighting conditions.
  • Include in your application 1 piece of 2D artwork of Mirai Suenaga in any of her uniforms using Photoshop or Sai.
  • Make Retrokyu in your choice of 3D software. Render a PNG file with transparency and submit that together with an OBJ file of Retrokyu.
  • Together with your application, create a resume outlining what ninja foo you can do.
  • Also include a write up in Japanese on how you discovered Japanese culture and why you want to live and work in Japan - this can be as long as you want. If you already live in Japan, write how you came over instead.

What happens after you send in your application?

If you make the mark, we will contact you within a week of your submission for a video interview over Skype. Unfortunately, as we usually get a ton of applicants, we can only contact applicants who make the mark.

All these positions are for immediate hire but we can obviously wait for folks who need to tie up loose ends on their previous commitments.
There is no deadline for these positions but we will start to contact super star applicants as soon as entries start to come in - so if you are interested then it would be advisable to submit something sooner rather than later.

Folks need not be concerned that ideas or work in their applications would be misused in the event that they are not hired - because if their ideas were good enough in the first place then they would have been hired ^^;

Other details

  • We have a probation period of 3 months - we are both on probation as you may decide that Culture Japan is not a fit for you. If you are located overseas then you would do the probation for 3 months in your locale - if the chemistry works out then we bring you over permanently.
  • It doesn't matter what color you are, what gender or age you may be or what disabilities you may have - if you fit the bill then we would love to have you onboard. Unlike a typical Japanese company - we don't require a photo of you with your application.
  • If you fit the bill but are not located in Japan, we will look after sponsoring your visa. We will pay for your airfare to come over and pay you a months wages up front.
  • I previously heard that you need a university degree in order to get hold of the Certificate Of Eligibility. Even if you are not a university grad - as long as you fit the bill then we will go out of our way to work something out.
  • Your compensation will be discussed with you during our Skype call.
  • Even if you fall short of some of the required software skills - you should be able to pick them up as you go so I encourage you to apply.
  • If you fall short of all of the required skills - as long as you can pick them up in order to do the tests then that is fine too as it demonstrates your ability to learn and utilize the software.
  • If Japanese lingo is still your weak spot but think you would be a ninja at performing the tests then still do apply. While Japanese language is important, we will consider your other strengths too.

Who should not apply?

  • Applications which come only with a "I dont have the skills now but I'm willing and am a fast learner" are completely ignored. If these folks were truly willing and are fast learners then they would ask Google Sensei how to go about completing the tests and just do them.
  • I hate to have to micro manage people - which is why I dont hire them ^^;
    I need you to hit the ground running and start playing a part in running the show. Unfortunately because we are a small team, while you will learn much about the industry and production process of various products, we are unable to hold your hand every step of the way and watch over your back.

    If you need nurturing and step by step instructions for everything then these positions are not for you.

  • Folks need to be able to adapt to the fast paced constantly changing environment here at Culture Japan - folks who dont like change and prefer a snug comfort zone wont like it here.

Work Culture

Previously as a people manager at Amazon, I drew a pie chart that my staff started to call "Danny's Pie" which if you say very fast could be made to sound like "Danny's Oppai."

The pie is divided into three - each piece is 8 hours. Presuming that you work 8 hours and sleep for 8 hours then you have 8 hours remaining which is one slice of the pie. I then start to cut up the remaining piece.
The 8 remaining hours is needed for things like personal hygiene, nourishment intake, health care (very important), cleaning, commuting and other chores which are important in life but generally don't contribute a whole lot to your career or personal development.

If you subtract the time needed for all the above from the final piece of the pie then all you would have left each day is 4-ish hours which you need to use on spending with friends/loved ones, entertainment/recreation and personal development - learning a new subject, beefing up current skills, researching etc.
This personal dev time is something I consider to be crucial to the development of an employee's life, career and well being.

Due to the nature of us still being in startup mode however, there may be some days where you need to chip in a few more hours than the regular to meet deadlines but usually, I would want you to go home early and do your own stuff so that you can be in razor sharp tip top shape the next day.

I think one of the reasons why we have been able to build our business to this stage with only a limited amount of resources is because we prioritize what can be done in the available time frame without expecting everybody to work up until the last train.

We constantly make sacrifices on the small stuff and prioritise resources to work on the bigger impacting stuff.

Whats with all this Google Sensei stuff?

Even if you dont have any of the above skills - its not too late to learn - depending on the position you are going for - you can gain all the skills that you need from asking Google Sensei.

This is Linus from Singapore. I first met him at a Culture Japan Night a few moons ago. He was following me around with a laptop with some of his work on it and was interested in an internship with us.
The graphical work he showed me did look nice but not incredible - but I was impressed with his persistence as he followed me around all the time!
We exchanged business cards. He then sent me an illustration of Mirai-chan that he done in Illustrator. I was impressed with the quality of his vector artwork and proceeded to speak with him over Skype.

Linus could speak quite a fair bit of Japanese which he picked up himself. But he didn't have enough skills that I required. Linus looked like a clever chap so I decided to invest time to train him - well it was more like getting him to train himself - I only gave him guidance.

I gave him test after test which he not only passed but went above and beyond.

The first test was to learn HTML and CSS3 which he ended up doing in 3 days - I gave him a mockup of a website (as a flat image) and a link to W3 Schools and told him of Google Sensei who lived on the planet Dagobah.
Google Sensei taught me all my Internet and graphical skills and I'm sure that Google Sensei would teach Linus the same - all Linus had to do was to ask Sensei.

In 3 days, not only did Linus manage to make the mockup from pure CSS (no table tags) but he also took the opportunity to learn JQuery and put in a rotating slideshow which I didn't request.

The second test was to edit a video for me using Final Cut Pro X - I sent him a few clips and told him to consult with Google Sensei again.
Despite having no previous knowledge of Final Cut Pro, just like myself, he picked up all the information that he needed - it cant get more easier than typing "Final Cut Pro X Tutorial."

The final test was to set up a server on his Mac and open up a port so that I could access it from Japan. Linus had no prior server knowledge but managed to do this task in a single night just by asking Google Sensei.

Linus proceeded to Intern for us for 3 months before becoming a full time employee working remotely in our Singapore office.

Linus has been working with us for a year and a half. At the age of 21, he has just been promoted to be our Chief Operating Officer and will be joining us in Tokyo this September.

Why do you have to do these tests for free?

You dont! Nobody is forcing you. But to be honest, if you have been living your life thinking that you should be paid for every little thing you do then you have probably already dug yourself an early grave.
I'd like to discuss a few of the things I done for free and where it got me.

How I made it to Japan

I was content working for Japan Airlines after I graduated from university back in London. T'was my first job and it was with a Japanese company. Some of the staff were Japanese and I got to speak a lot of the lingo too.
But I still wasn't in Japan and I never let go of the Japanese Dream that I had which was to live and work in the land of the rising sun.

I started to do the milk rounds looking for jobs online and I found something that caught my eye on a recruitment site called Peoples First. The job was based in Tokyo and the description was something like "Web marketing in SE Asia. Require native English speaker with good command of Japanese/Chinese and who could do the Internets."

Hmmm. I can do a bit of the Internets! I immediately applied for the job and ran home all excited. I told my wife when I got home "we are moving to Japan!"
Wifey gave a smile ^^

A few days later, I got a call to meet the general manager (David Swinbanks) of Nature Japan who had come to the UK to do interviews. I met with him for an hour and the interview included a task to read a scientific article in Japanese ^^;
David didn't expect to find somebody who could also speak Korean which was rather handy as Nature Japan covered Korea in their marketing too.

After the first interview, I went home and stayed up through the night to make a mock up of a simple Nature Korea website which you can see above - they didn't have one at the time and during the interview I discussed how it would be strategically important for Nature to have one. I saved the files on a floppy, printed out a screenshot and found out which hotel David was staying at through the recruitment agency. I got to the hotel, slid the goods under his door and left.

That night, I got a call from the recruitment agency who said that David wanted to meet me again and that "he was surprised by your delivery."
I Met up with David who said that he wanted to send me to their Tokyo office for a week of tests and interviews but that he wasn't guaranteeing me a position just yet. He was going to pay for just the ticket and hotel and leave the rest to me.

I headed to Tokyo and spent a week at the offices of Nature in Ichigaya. I was doing forecasting which I had never done before and had to think of an algorithm that made sense. I used excel to plot some forecasts based on previous years data but I didn't take into account external factors.
Without the experience to understand how things such as seasons affect sales, my forecasts were off but I tried my best to come up with the numbers.

Luckily David was looking for somebody with the willingness to try rather than somebody who knew it all.
I was also doing translating of scientific articles which they don't quite teach in university ^^;

A week packed with intensive tests and interviews had come to an end and I was sitting at Davids desk. "Thank you for coming to Tokyo. We will give you a decision after you get back to the UK."
I started to imagine the pain of sitting on a plane for 12 hours worrying about his answer and said "I probably won't have any finger or toenails left after biting them all off through worrying about whether I got the job or not - I would love an answer before I go back ^^"
David laughed and told me that he will call over the weekend.

I went back to the hotel and was distraught with stress but knew I done absolutely *everything* I could. Everything. I had prepared for a chance like this for the past few years learning not only Japanese but also the technology. I was given the opportunity and I did my best. I wanted to be in Japan so so bad. I just had to be in Japan.
That night, I broke down and cried myself to sleep ^^; lol

The hotel phone rang the next day on a rainy Sunday morning - it was David.

The result of that call was that in July 1999, wifey and I packed up stuff and picked up our one way tickets to Japan.

Had I the mindset to think that I should be paid for everything little thing I do, I would not have put together the mockup of the Korean Nature site.

I was not paid for my time for that week of tests in Tokyo either - but that was not a concern as the chance to prove myself was priceless.

Stepping stone to corporate life

After working at Nature for a while, I started to seek new opportunities and I found one with a Japanese recruitment agency called Job Dragon. During the interview, the CTO (Nick) then came in to have a chat and we discussed the possibility of me working for them. Amongst the conversation, I suggested how a mobile site would be beneficial for Job Dragon to help increase usage of their service.

From 1999 through to 2001, wifey and I decided to save money and not get a mobile phone but then thought it was time to invest in a pair as I wanted to make a mobile site for Job Dragon - to prove to them that I could do the job. Don't have a screenshot of the Job Dragon site that I made but this was the dannychoo.com mobile version which I whipped up at the same time.

Nick seemed to like what I did but wasn't convinced until I did further tests online - he sent me a link to a site where I was required to take tests in HTML and Dreamweaver. I passed both tests and soon after I was offered a full time position working for Job Dragon as a Contents Producer. It was this stepping stone that lead me to corporate life serving such roles as Website Manager at Amazon and Product Manager at Microsoft.

Had I the mindset to think that I should be paid for everything little thing I do, I would not have put together the mockup of the Job Dragon mobile site. Nor would I have taken those tests for free - but that was not a concern as the chance to prove myself was priceless.

What are the perks of working at Culture Japan?

Our work involves sharing Japanese culture with the world which means that we need to travel often - we cover flights, hotel and make sure there are a couple of days left over after an event so that we can enjoy the local culture and spend time with our readers and viewers - many other companies ask you to get your ass back home to do work.

Customise your workspace

Was you working in an environment where it was difficult to have figures or dolls around your own workspace?
At Culture Japan you can display whatever you want around your glass desk - even ecchi figures ^^

Free figures, dolls, merchandise, clothes and gadgets

Choose from some of the ton of samples that arrive at the office - take whatever you want as they sometimes prevent us from being able to move around properly ^^;

Macs & Equipment

Depending on the nature of your work, you will be given a MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac or a MacPro to do your cool stuff.

We do a lot of TV and creative work and the industry standard in Japan is Mac. If you are a Windows guy or gal and don't like the idea of using a Mac then nobody is forcing you at point blank range to apply for a position! Complaining will only make you look clever...

I can clone a configuration of Mac OS and restore it to any Mac machine and it will just work - this is just one of the reasons why we save on having a dedicated IT department.

We have built up a library of Mac software over the years and also have a plethora of automated processes that help us do things faster on Macs too.

The only exception is the Graphic Artist who may have to use Windows for software like 3D Studio Max which is only Windows based.

Also, if you need any equipment particular for your line of work - we get it for you.

Flexible work hours

Once upon a time I used to think that I could effectively run a business with remote staff using tools like mail, skype and monosnap. What ended up happening was that I would spend 90% of the day touching base with my staff located in countries like Romania, Philippines, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore and the UK.

Moving forward, I’m investing in a larger office and hiring more folks locally in Tokyo. This should enable us to better articulate our ideas and emotions on a 1 to 1 basis.

While we do need to spend a certain amount of time in the office to touch base and communicate with the team - the most important thing is that you deliver your goods which is why we are flexible about allowing staff to go and run personal errands and wot not.

Video Games

I discovered Japan through games! I’m looking for some arcade cabinets for the office but for now staff can take a break by kicking somebody in Street Fighter or shooting something in Axelay.


It happens to a lot of us - a sudden spell of sleepiness. I'd rather have staff take a power nap rather than pretend to be awake at the desk.
We have a Mirai-chan dakimakura to help you doze off quicker too.

Work with the makers

If you have enjoyed Japanese Pop Culture then you would have probably watched a load of anime, played a load of games, read a load of manga or bought a load of figures or dolls - well now you get to work with the folks who make all this stuff because they are our clients or partners.

Mirai Suenaga

Mirai is one of my biggest motivations - I want to see her do well and if you do too then you can be a part of contributing to the success of her career.

If none of the positions tickle your fancy then still keep em peeled as I'll be posting more positions as we go along.
I'm interested in seasoned RubyOnRails and Android developers but they are of a lower priority compared to the listed 4 so I didn't post requirements this time round.

If you think these jobs in Japan may be of interest to your fellow comrades then please share this with them.

Anyway, thats it for now - I look forward to working with you to work hard, play hard, make cool stuff and make history!