Japan Trip 2019 is confirmed and I’m flying in a few days time. It’s by far the most complicated work trip that I need to handle administratively thus far – trying to synchronise air ticket cost across five institutions, figuring out how to get my institution to pay for the trip first and receive reimbursement from a third party in the new financial year.

The six-day trip will also be a test of my understanding of Japanese work protocol. I’m not intending to miss another real life learning opportunity again.

For the last few days, I tried to internalise whatever 敬語 (Keigo: A set of Japanese grammar and vocabulary used in official and formal situation) I could.

If I couldn’t speak, I should at least learn to listen.

And there were the gifts. Probably impossible for me to obtain corporate gifts for every one there but decided that I probably prepare at least four thank-you-gifts to four of the KOSEN representatives who I felt was important to make our trip happen.

Still, I feel uneasy. Would it be rude to gift to some and not all? What should I say when I give the thank you gift to them? Does つまらないものですが (Tsumaranai mono desuka: “It’s just a boring thing but…” – a common Japanese phrase to say when giving gifts) even make sense in this case?

I am also going to bring a second suit along. It’s not the usual business suit colour but just being self-conscious about wearing the same suit for 5 to 6 days.

Did I over-prepare? Am I overthinking? I better rethink, perhaps just one suit will do…

Any advice?