Japanese Business Contracts


Recently I got my first contract in a long time. Not only was it my first contract in about 25 years but this one was in Japanese.

A friend contacted me and told me a company they worked with wanted some game related work done. I'm not really sure why I went since I don't really want to do contract work but without thinking about it I went over, talked to the company, and basically agreed to do the work. Only after did I think, "Wait, what? Why did I agree to do this?"

Fortunately it's a small project but I had no idea how much work it would be just to get started.

So first I wrote up a small visual design document like I had seen from other Japanese game projects. I wanted it to be clear visually what the project would be, what the scope is, what the game play flow would be etc... By visual I drew simple diagrams showing the various game screens (title, start, game, end), described the controls on each visually. I bring this up because my impression is most western design documents are still mostly paragraphs of text where as Japanese design documents are very visual.

I also details on what I was expecting to provide and what I needed them to provide.

I sent it off and got an "Okay, Look's great".

Maybe because I'm out of practice or maybe because it was a small project but I thought it could be simple at that point, like barely more than a handshake of a deal.

I thought I'd write a small about 1 paragraph letter that said effectively "I'll make the game like I detailed in the design document and you'll pay me $XXXX by this date" with a few more details. Get them to sign it and be done.

I brought this up with a friend and it turned out she did stuff like this for a living. She told me the contract probably needed to be longer but I was like, "let's just go with this simple version for now". She relented and helped me fix my Japanese for the small contract.

But ..... I was actually planned to subcontract a portion of the work to a friend as he's done many more projects that me. He sent me both an invoice and a contract. The invoice made me realize I needed one of those two and his contract was a couple of pages long covering things like cancellation etc.

So, that made me feel like I needed a longer contract but I was freaking out a little since it's a short project with a short deadline and it was feeling like just dealing with the contract itself would take longer than the project.

My experience from 25 years ago was getting a contract, having a lawyer pour over it, having the lawyer make changes, sending it to the other party, going back and forth a couple of times and finally both signing it. Ugh!

My friend who'd written the letter offered to make me a more common contract. Not much in it but it covers cancelling, acts of god, rights (who owns the IP), etc... There was nothing really out of the ordinary so I sent a PDF to the other company and they said "looks good, send us the real deal".

So, then, talking to my friend who wrote the contract this is not a simple as just signing 2 copies of contract, sending them to be signed by the other party and getting one back.


In Japan I needed a "revenue stamp". Apparently these exist in some other parts of the world but not in the USA. The idea that I need some special stamp to make a contract seemed really weird but whatever, you gotta do what you gotta do so I go over to the post office and buy a revenue stamp.

Next up I need to apply my company stamp to the contract. In Japan they don't use signatures. Instead they use stamps. When I registered my Japanese company the lawyer got and registered a stamp for me.

It makes a stamp like this (not my stamp)

I showed her my stamp and was then told I needed a different type of stamp. The stamp I had was a "Company Representative Stamp" but I also needed a "Company Stamp". I'll apply the company stamp to the invoice.

Okay, off the stamp store to have them make me a company stamp. 48hrs later I have a company stamp.

which makes a stamp like this (not my stamp)

So, now I'm preparing to stamp the contract. I put the revenue stamp on the front and I'm told I need to stamp it with my representative stamp half on half off. The point is to make the stamp not reusable / not removable.

I then need to stamp my name with my representative stamp at the end of the contract.

Now I need to know what to do for the 2nd copy. It takes me a while to find out only one company needs the revenue stamp but both copies need my representative stamp at the end.

Then I need to take the invoice and stamp that with the company stamp (the new stamp).

Okay, let's put these in an envelope and send them off ... wait! That's when she tells me I need bookbinding tape. WHAT!? It turns out I need a special kind of white tape that you use to bind the contract. So, it's off to the store to buy some bookbinding tape. It's like an inch and a 1/2 wide white tape. You put it on the edge over the contract and wrap it around to the back so your contract becomes a small book. You then press your representative stamp on it so it can't be removed.

Some guides even tell you you should do the same between every pair of pages. The point is that no pages can be changed since the stamps won't align. By now it's too late in the day to make it to the post office.

So, next day, on the way to the post office, I meet some friends for lunch and have them look over it. They say it all looks good but I also should really send a cover letter. I guess that's kind of common sense although again it's a small informal project and I don't think the other side is going to care. One of my friends at lunch though says she does this all the time so she writes a short cover letter, we print it out at the convenience store and finally, after several days of freaking out I can finally send the contract off.

So there you have it. Yet another new experience learning that even contracts are different by country and/or culture.


Japanese Rice Cookers are Noisy


9 years ago (the last time I bought I rice cooker) I got a middle of the road Panasonic rice cooker. It was silent. The one I bought before that was silent. Every rice cooker I've never owned since the 80s was silent. All the ones my friends had when I visited their homes were silent.

So, this time I also just picked a middle of the road Panasonic rice cooker only to find out they are no longer silent.

Apparently nearly all the rice cookers are now IH (Induction Heating) and so they need a fan to circulate the air. Panasonic doesn't even make any non IH rice cookers in 2016.


All of Shinjuku is being rented on AirBnB


So a friend is trying to rent her apartment out while she's on vacation for the last 2 weeks in June. Her place is behind Kabukicho, nearest station is Shin Okubo.

I don't usually look over there because I'd rather stay in other places but I checked just for the hell of it ...

I put in $70−$80 a night, June 15−30, entire place. Airbnb claimed 300+ places still available and that those were among the 17% left. That means just in that $10 span of price range there are over 1800 apartments available. And, that was limited to the area between Shinjuku station, the Yamanote line, Okubo Dori, and Meiji Dori. That makes it seem like practically all of Shinjuku is being rented on Airbnb



Enable Japanese to English Dictionary in iOS


Right after figuring out how to enable the built in Japanese to English dictionary in OSX a friend was like "Awesome! Now they just need it for iOS" to which I thought, hmm, I wonder.

A few clicks later and BAM! Same feature is in iOS


Turn on the built in Japanese/English Dictionary in OSX


I recently read this article about just how awesome the Webster's dictionary is compared to other dictionaries.. I highly recommend it.

After reading that I installed that dictionary in OSX. Then a few days later I needed to look up a Japanese word. I usually go to WWWJDIC to look things up but it's annoying to have to be online.

Then I got to thinking, Hmmm, if I was able to install a dictionary into OSX I'll bet there's a Japanese or Japanese to English dictionary. A few clicks later and BAM!, turns out there's one built in. All you have to do is turn it on.


Cultural Differences


One of the things you learn from living abroad is just how many things you assume are natural that actually aren't.


Why Japanese is Hard to Learn


This is mostly in response to the English is Hard to Learn meme

One of the first words you learn when studying Japanese is “iku” (行く)The word “to go”. So, given that it’s spelled

行 i
く ku

How do you think you pronounce these words?

行 ___
実行 ji___
行う ___u
膝行 i____
売れ行き ure___ki

Or about about this one. “iku” (生く). It means “to live” or “to be alive” So given that it’s spelled

生 i
く ku

How do you think you pronounce these words?

先生 sen___
一生 i___
芝生 shiba___
往生 ou___
千生り sen___ri
埴生 ha____
平生 hei___
弥生 ya ___
蓬生 yomo____
生り ___ri
相生 ai___
下生え shita___e
生える __eru


実行 jikou
行う okonau
膝行 izari
売れ行き ureyuki

先生  sensei
一生  isshou
芝生  shibafu
往生 oujou
千生り sennari
埴生 hanyuu
平生  heizei
弥生  yayoi
蓬生  yomogiu
生り  namari
相生 aioi
下生え shitabae
生える haeru

All languages have their quirks. ☺


emoji (絵文字) Picture Characters


Emoji (pronounced eh−moh−jee) are iconic characters first introduced in Japanese cell phones in the early 2000s. At first different carriers each made up their own set of icons. NTT started off with a few. Then if I remember correctly J−Phone added many more than NTT to try to entice users to their system. Japanese, especially young Japanese women love using emoji and love to send messages to their friends full of them.


Void Metabolism


I don't quite even get what that title means but it was all over an exhibit I saw at the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery.

I'm not 100% sure what the exhibit's point was but there were several parts. The first was a very large screen with video projected showing some part of Tokyo as seen from above very similar to Google Maps satellite view. The difference where was it as supposed to be a time lapsed video showing the city changing over time, buildings demolished and new ones built etc. I can't imagine it was real but I suppose it could have been.


Robot Restaurant


When I visited Japan in November 2012 the first things one of my friends asked me was "Hey Gman, are you going to visit the Robot Restaurant?" I was like "Wat? What's that?" They just said go check it out so ... I did