Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Ganbatte, kudasai - がんばってください!

Any visitor to Japan may well be familiar with the expression "ganbatte, kudasai" or "ganbatte, ne". It is incredibly common - I hear it several dozen times a day at least, and as a new ALT, it is often said to me, en mass. The direct English translation is an encouraging "please do your best!", although I feel certain this translation doesn't carry across the sentiment that seems embedded in the expression. It is used for encouragement and support in any activity, from teaching to drinking to sports to really simple things such as following directions after someone has given you them. This expression really seems to reflect the team etiquette that is prevalent in all aspects of Japanese life, and serves to boost all members of society in their daily activity.

I recently read an interview quote from Formula One driver Timo Glock, who currently drives for Toyota. The exchange was:

Q: You currently drive for Toyota. The Japanese company boasts its very own management philosophy, but can you name one component of the ‘Toyota Way’?
TG: Kaizen, which is continuous improvement.

Indeed, kaizen ( 改善, lit. "good change") is the Japanese way.

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