In Japan, everybody has a meishi, a business card, except maybe for house wives or students. But once you are working or looking for work, you will need a business card, at least one, that is, as many people carry several: one for work, one for their side business, a private one… They are used for all sorts of reasons, from the strictly business to the extremely cheeky: A friend of mine told me he once saw the meishi of a young man styling himself an applied cunnilingus scientist – he used that one to pick up girls…
Usually, people are more serious though. A standard Japanese business card contains name, job title, (email) address, phone/fax number,… the usual; once in Japanese and on the reverse side in English. Company logos and coloured paper are common, but I have also seen meishi with photos of their owner, which I found a bit odd at first, but, thinking of it, you have a better chance of remembering who gave you the card at what occasion.
Anyway, I now have my own business cards as well. I went to Kinko’s, a national chain operating 24/7 that do all sorts of printing. I ordered only a very basic, white, single-sided, English-only design, as I have no company address or phone number, at least at this point. It took me a while to figure out what job title to give myself, and I decided to simply put the old one on it, after all, this is where my expertise lies. I can always get new cards made, I only ordered a small batch, and they are not that expensive. The service at Kinko’s is amazing – it took them only 24 hours sharp to complete the order. There are cheaper online services available, but in this case I traded price for speed.
To be fully equipped, I also bought a case for my business cards. It is made from Japanese silk, and I had the choice between a more serious, business-like design or something more individual. In the end, I decided to use my gaijin-status and milk it to the last drop. What do you think of it? I first thought those are poppies, but with the branches in the back and the white, those are most likely plum blossoms.
Tomorrow I have a meeting in Osaka with the business partners of my friend there, so I hope they will be sufficiently impressed, of both me, and my business cards. I have not yet decided whether to wear my suit, my friend claims they were “cool”, and I am not sure it is a job interview anyway. However, keep your fingers crossed, please!