Ho-Ren-So: Japanese workplace mobile instant messaging communication in a social enterprise

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Earlier this week I chaired the latest Cardiff-Japanese Lecture Series, this time with Professor Hiromasa Tanaka (Meisei University).

This was an engaging webinar and had things that will be useful for my update to Japan: The Basics and my work on Visual Packaging Culture.

The topic was “Ho-Ren-So: Japanese workplace mobile instant messaging communication in a social enterprise”. Although it sounds the same this “horenso” is not the word that means spinach (I managed to resist using a picture of spinach as my Zoom background). Instead, Ho-Ren-So, means ‘report, contact and consult’, and emphasizes a continual stream of information up to managers and colleagues. Ho-Ren-So is believed to ensure workers can take the best action for achieving total quality control in production sites.

The lecture argued that Ho-Ren-So could be a template of business interaction as well as aisatsu. To do this, Professor Tanaka looked at the usage of LINE.

The LINE app has grown to be one of Japan’s most popular mobile instant messaging apps. By 2021, Line app had been installed in 96.5% of all smartphones in Japan. This lecture outlined interaction patters and strategies frequently used in Japanese language online business chatting observed in Line interaction. The data indicate, first, the use of aisatsu (greetings) contributes to relation development in the team. Second, data that contains Ho-Ren-So patterns in addition to confirmation remarks such as “ryokai desu” is presented. Further discussion will touch upon each speaker’s contribution to members’ co-construction of special and chronological maps by the use of Ho-Ren-So.

Due to my interest in symbols, I was particularly interested in the parts that discussed the use of ‘stamps’ in LINE.

Here is a link to the recording of the webinar:

I learnt so much through this very enjoyable webinar – not only academically, but also that I really need to improve my knowledge and usage of LINE (which I have installed and post updates to, but don’t use much (and clearly not as much as I should be with Japanese colleagues (by which I mean those of us who teach/research about Japan and its language)) for chatting.

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