• Shiori W

Three manga that can teach about Japanese business culture and customs.

If you want to learn about Japanese business culture and customs, there are three manga that you can read and have fun while learning. Manga can teach you about more niche topics than textbooks and can also teach idioms!

Today I’m going to share three manga that can teach you about real Japanese work customs and culture.

左利きのエレン Hidari kiki no Eren (Eren, the southpaw)

This manga tells the story of Koichi, an employee at an ad agency in Japan, Eren, an amazingly talented artist in New York, and the people around them. The tagline of this manga is a “To everyone who could not become a genius”. It was first published from 2016 to 2017 in the magazine “Cakes” and was remade in Shonen Jump, a popular comic magazine, in 2017 where it continues to be published. The story follows, both, geniuses like Eren and those who aren’t geniuses like Koichi.

The manga contains many depictions of how Japanese coworkers work in a team. It contains examples of how people interact with their seniors (senpai) and bosses in a Japanese business setting. I think it is also interesting because it gives an insight into the advertisement and marketing industry in Japan.


Free to read in Jump magazine web app (JP only)

正直不動産 Shoujiki Fudo san (Honesty real estate)

This manga is about the gap in information between buyers and sellers in the Japanese real estate industry. It has been published since 2017.

The Japanese proverb “千三つ Sen mittsu” means “Among a thousand words there are only three truthful ones.” This word is used to refer to liars, real estate agents , and money lenders. It is also used to describe the difficulties involved in creating a new product in the Japanese food industry. In the Japanese food industry the proverb goes that “For every 1000 products released there are only 3 that are successful”.

This manga is about Nagase, a full-time salaryman who lives in a high rise apartment. One day he damages a small shrine and is cursed to no longer be able to tell any lies. The story is about his efforts to continue working without lying or making exaggerations to his clients. You can learn about the Japanese real estate agency and business customs from this manga.

Free to read online (JP only)

レモン入りの妙薬 Lemon iri no Myouyaku (The Wonder Drug Containing Lemon)

This manga follows the experiences of Midori, an office lady in 1990 before the economic bubble in Japan burst. Midori has been working at the same company for four years and has been living in the company’s dormitory for single women.

Midori does her best to become a “quiet and nice girl” at the company and to not draw any attention or cause trouble. By reading this manga you can learn about how women acted and the relationships between women in offices at the time. The manga also teaches people about the rules that single women’s dormitories had, customs surrounding marriage, and how women acted in the workplace at the time. It also shows how some things that could be considered sexual harassment nowadays were prevalent back then. It is quite interesting to learn about what was considered normal back then and what has changed since then.

Free to read online (JP only)

Free to read online (JP only)

When I first read Eren the Southpaw, I quickly became addicted to it and impressed by the author’s drawing skill. I was interested in the depiction of differences between people with talent and those without. The stories of some people who gave up their dreams as teenagers were relatable. When students start job hunting in Japan, many have to make realistic choices and some decide to give up their dreams. So I think these stories really resonate with people and remind them of tough times they had in their teens and twenties.

When I read “The Wonder Drug Containing Lemon” I was a bit shocked at how women had to act during the Showa era. I thought that the women’s behavior was too modest and it was just hard to imagine living like that.

The unspoken rules between women in the workplace, the bullying, and the rumors that were spread among women at the time were shocking to read about. Some depictions in the manga caused me to question things since usually women are portrayed as “kawaii/otonashii” (cute and quiet) by society. I’m very glad that I was born after this era my mother and aunties lived through. I’m thankful to my mother for not raising me with old fashioned concepts! It was interesting to learn about how people lived in a different time and culture.

What do you think?

These manga are only available in Japanese if you follow the links above but if you are interested in them, I hope you will try reading them and learn more about Japanese customs and culture!

Hope you learned something interesting today!

See you later!