Twice I got the opportunity to work in a Japanese open space and to discover its traditions. I was particularly strucked by the ceremonial – still surviving within modern offices, especially the morning greetings, called “朝 礼” (chourei, “morning bow”).
If I can not speak with certainty for all workplaces in Japan, it is certain that these morning greetings are still common. They bring together either all company members – like schools, or are operated department by department, section by section, before the working day starts.
So what’s going on during a morning greetings ? The first time I was at a loss to understand, and the second time was not better, but I get the idea. Morning greetings can transmit information relating to work, introducing a new employee (to my great misfortune as it happened to me), and other details of the life of the company and its members. Activities can be requested, such as a presentation on a specific topic or free (hitokoto).
The chief of departement, or section, in short, the most important guy in the room draws the attention of everyone. Employees stand up. The leader starts the beginning of morning greetings with date and saying good morning and employees repeat good morning in unison, then bow. After that, the exchange of information can start: there will be a meeting at 10am, Mr X won’t come to the office because of the flu, let’s greet a new employee. If the company has the tradition of hitokoto, then the responsible person starts her speech. When it is over, the leader wishes everyone to do its best today, the assembly bow and goes back to work.
It is an incredible experience, for as long (and painful) than it can be, this ceremonial of morning greetings let us experience this sense of unity, of group life, that cohesion so dear to the Japanese culture.
Morning greetings competition are organized every year in Japan.