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Saturday, May 26, 2001

JAPAN LITE

Job-hunting tips for the nation's students


Japan's unemployment rate is the highest ever in the postwar era. This is especially bad news for students, who are finding it difficult to find jobs upon graduating. But don't despair, students, deep down the bubble economy is still bubbling! Japan is still paying people to do jobs that don't even exist in most other countries.

Consider:

* The noise-making business. Services in Japan need voices, especially if you happen to sound like a child. You could be the voice behind the announcement in stores that tells people to keep their hands on the handrails of the escalator or the voice over the loudspeaker in the convenience store that tells you the time on the hour, every hour. If you have a good singing voice, or not, you could make recordings for the "yaki imo" truck or the song that accompanies the "tako yaki" truck.

You could produce things that make Japan's noise: the neighborhood chimes that tell the time, the squeakers in sandals for toddlers, the musical birds singing over the speakers in shopping centers and public places.

If presence is something you desire, you could be the guy with the whistle who helps buses back up into parking spaces at the bus station.

* The cover business. Japan is the most cover-obsessed nation in the world. They must need millions of people to make those millions of covers: cloth covers for tissue boxes, telephones and car seats; plastic covers for bank books and ID cards; paper covers for books; cardboard covers for pocket dictionaries. Surely I have not covered everything.

Inject the business with new enthusiasm by suggesting new covers, such as covers for coins, mailing envelopes and ice cream.

* The wiping business. Wiping, its cousin sweeping and its second cousin beating, are all deeply ingrained in the Japanese psyche. People need good tools. They'll always need good towels with the plastic, spider-leg towel-drying racks. They'll need brooms for sweeping leaves, brooms for sweeping dirt and brooms for sweeping floors -- never shall they mix. They'll need plastic beaters for futons, cushions and blankets. With an official wiping season -- summer -- you're set for life if you can meet the demand for handkerchiefs to wipe foreheads, towels for wearing on the head and tissues to wipe up anything else.

* The glove business: Every Japanese has a disarming array of gloves: a thick rubber pair for handling gasoline and chemicals, a thick cloth pair for outside work, a pair of gardening gloves, dish-washing gloves, driving gloves, white bicycle-gloves (lacy ones for women) and a pack of 25 pairs of disposable white-cotton gloves for everything else. To build a business rapidly, make glove sets for wedding gifts.

* The "wasteful products with a life span of one second to a few minutes" business. There are thousands of throwaway products you can make to keep up the demand for more. Make those special little pieces of paper that sit on public counters to wipe off your "inkan," special pieces of paper to wipe your forehead, or special plastic umbrella covers to use while you're shopping. Did I mention tissues?

* The frosted-glass business. Surely there is no country in the world that is as crazy about frosted glass as Japan. On my planet, we use frosted glass only for windows in bathrooms, but in Japan you can get this effect all day long. Front doors of houses, sliding doors and side windows often have frosted glass -- with patterns. Star bursts and snowflakes are common but you could increase the demand for frosted glass by introducing some bold new patterns such as a termite pattern or an "udon" pattern. Or how about frosted glass in rainbow colors?

* If you're looking for a job with a little more glamour, you can always be the "soo desu ne" person. In Japan, whether it's an announcer on a TV program or the lady working at the laundry, there is always another person standing there. Often all that person does is agree with the other by saying, "Soo desu ne."

Visit the Japan Lite home page at www.amychavez.com or e-mail comments to: amychavez@mailexcite.com


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