69 episodes

Entertaining and insightful conversations with Japan focused business professionals, entrepreneurs, and creatives. Recorded in bars around Tokyo, it’s like eavesdropping on candid conversations with Japan experts who share engaging stories of success, failure, and wisdom gained in Japan. Discover first-hand what it’s like to live, work, and experience the most fascinating country in the world. Direct from Tokyo, this is the Now and Zen Podcast!

Now and Zen Japan Andrew Hankinson

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 15 Ratings

Entertaining and insightful conversations with Japan focused business professionals, entrepreneurs, and creatives. Recorded in bars around Tokyo, it’s like eavesdropping on candid conversations with Japan experts who share engaging stories of success, failure, and wisdom gained in Japan. Discover first-hand what it’s like to live, work, and experience the most fascinating country in the world. Direct from Tokyo, this is the Now and Zen Podcast!

    Federico Fanelli: Swirl Wine the Personalized Wine Subscription Service

    Federico Fanelli: Swirl Wine the Personalized Wine Subscription Service

    Drinking wine should be a relaxing event and lifestyle enhancer, at least this is how Swirl co-founder Federico Fanelli views it. Originally from Italy, Federico came to Japan on a mission to introduce the wine lifestyle to Japanese. After a few years selling wine B2B, he together with his co-founder started Swirl, an online wine subscription service. Swirl is a very user friendly website incorporating gamification, fun navigation, and a super easy searchable wine cellar with over 140 wines from 5 major wine countries. Today I speak with Federico about the inspiration behind Swirl, scalability in a market not known for wine drinking, why the wine buying experience is usually disappointing, how Swirl creates an enhanced customer experience, and why they chose the company name Swirl, despite this potentially being the hardest English word ever for Japanese to pronounce. Other interesting topics of discussion:
    How the business idea for Swirl was born while drinking at a wine bar with his now co-founderHow the Swirl website uses "Gamification" to increase visitor conversion ratesCreating an enhanced customer experience to make a wow wine experienceFree unsolicited business ideas - for SwirlWhy most foreign wine business in Japan usually have a foreign customer base The wine selection process - Tasting over 2,000 wines to select 140 for the Swirl websiteWhy there are no Japanese wines on the Swirl websiteKarate and a cultural anthropology book became the catalyst for interest in JapanFavorite untranslatable Japanese word - the Mottainai conceptImporting wine into Japan is simple, but creating a wine business is a lot more difficultMost important lesson learned working in JapanSwirl Wine: https://swirlwine.co.jp/
    More Now and Zen Japan episodes: http://nowandzen.jp

    Great Sleep Starts Here = gugu Sleep Company: https://gugu.jp
    Japan Adventures via Camper Van = Dream Drive: https://www.dreamdrive.life

    Use the code word "ZEN" to receive discounts

    • 40 min
    Dominic Carter: Japan Market Entry and Branding Expert (Rerelease)

    Dominic Carter: Japan Market Entry and Branding Expert (Rerelease)

    This episode you will hear from Dominic Carter, an expert on Japan market entry, market research, and branding. Dominic shares great insight, knowledge, and current research results, for anyone working in Japan or looking to expand into Japan needs to hear.  You will learn the 3 Golden Rules for Japan market entry success, the 4 Marco Trends shaping modern Japan, as well as numerous great quotes about how to succeed in the Japanese market. This is must listen to anyone doing business in Japan. Other topics we discuss: 
    How the future of Japan will be better with a smaller working populationDoing sales in Japan is more of an art than a science and what is "aggressive positioning"Why Dominic is overly generous in his offering of free, but valuable market entry content on his blog and social mediaThe best definition of "insight" Learn the "Four Macro Trends" shaping modern Japan and how they will affect marketing and the future of doing business in Japan"Scarcity Value" and how this relates to the youth of JapanHas the COVID pandemic caused "Internationalization" to go backwards in Japan?Great marketing examples which exemplify the risk adverse nature of the Japan marketThe Three Golden Rules to successful Japan market entry Keeping your "foreignness" vs. localization for international brandsHis favorite untranslatable Japanese wordThe Carter Group: https://the-carter-group.com
    Dominic Carter: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dominic-carter-404b62/

    More Now and Zen episodes: https://www.nowandzen.jp/

    gugu Mattress Company: https://gugu.jp
    Dream Drive: https://www.dreamdrive.life

    • 47 min
    Sean Nichols: Japan Entertainment industry insider & Ultraman actor

    Sean Nichols: Japan Entertainment industry insider & Ultraman actor

    Sean Nichols has been an entertainer on Japanese TV,  a Manzai stand-up comedian, the global representative for Japan's biggest YouTuber,  went on tour with Aerosmith, but is most famous for his starring role in the Ultraman series - the only foreigner to ever appear in the 40 year history of the franchise. This episode he discusses the dream journey from watching Ultraman on TV as a child, to becoming "Sean White" for 50 episodes. Sean talks about the Japanese entertainment industry from starting his own talent agency to losing out in the final round of a stand-up competition due to one off-color joke, and taking the biggest risk of his professional career led to going on tour with Aerosmith. Other topics of discussion:
    The top 3 things Japanese always find humorous His autograph seeking demographic ranges for 5 to 65 years oldFrom actor to international representative for UltramanHow auditions and talent agencies work in JapanBest explanation of what is a “Tarento” Representing the most famous Japanese Youtuber Hikakin and getting him on stage with AerosmithBackstage Stories with Steven Tyler and the bandHow humor in Japan is different from western humorJapanese comedy-style Manzai explained 3 tips for foreigners interested in getting into the Japan entertainment industryAdvice on how to be funny in JapaneseFavorite untranslatable Japanese wordMore Now and Zen Japan episodes: http://nowandzen.jp

    Great Sleep Starts Here = gugu Sleep Company: https://gugu.jp
    Japan Adventures via Camper Van = Dream Drive: https://www.dreamdrive.life

    Use the code word "ZEN" to receive discounts

    • 42 min
    Masako Yamamura: Hospitality and Retail Training Professional

    Masako Yamamura: Hospitality and Retail Training Professional

    This updated and re-released episode we get into Hospitality and Retail with professional sales and leadership trainer Masako Yamamura.  We discuss Omotenashi possibly leading to world peace,  Bartenders are the most fun hospitality people, Commissions and culturally why Japanese avoid the system , Fortune-tellers, and the numerous differences and similarities between the retail and hospitality industries in Japan.  Other highlights from our conversation:
    What the hospitality industry could learn from the retail industryHer definition of "Omotenashi" and why she hated the Olympic O-MO-TE-NA-SHI presentationUsing hospitality concepts in retail can differentiate your brand from competitionWhy a 5-star hotel experience in Japan is not as positive vs. overseasWhy Japanese "Just In Case" mentality holds back true hospitalityLeast popular jobs for todays Japanese youthHer pessimism regarding the future of JapanA story about a fortune-teller's shocking but reaffirming messagegugu Sleep Company https://gugu.jp
    My Solutions https://www.my-solutions.jp
    Masako Yamamura
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/masako-yamamura-88060517/

    • 44 min
    William Ryan: Japan Hospitality Consultants founder and Irish bar pioneer

    William Ryan: Japan Hospitality Consultants founder and Irish bar pioneer

    Have you ever considered opening your own bar, cafe, or restaurant in Japan?  It seems daunting and bureaucratic doesn't it? On this episode you will hear just how simple it can be. I speak with William Ryan, the founder of Japan Hospitality Consultants (JHC), and the owner of the An Solas Irish Pub in Yoyogi.  William has been running Irish pubs in Tokyo for over 20 years and started his own pub in 2014. With this proven track record he started JHC two years ago when he realized there was an underserved niche advising foreigners on how to open their own F&B places in Japan.  We discuss the importance of authenticity, the hospitality niche foreigners have in a country known for excellent service and "omotenashi", the quantitative checklist you will need to open your own place, rules #1 and #2 for every new bar owner, I give William three bar & cafe ideas and he evaluates their success potential, and he discovers the worst F&B idea he's ever heard. Other highlights from our conversation:
    The difference between an Irish pub and a British pubHow he got "recruited" to Japan to run an authentic Irish PubThe importance of "reading the air" for bartenders and why it's difficult to teach hospitalityMisinformation and bad advise lead him to start JHCTrying to be Japanese and other mistakes foreigners make when opening F&B in JapanWas starting JHC during a pandemic the best or worst timing everThe one F&B market need he sees right nowThinking that owning your own bar will be as much fun as drinking at a barWhen a hobby becomes an obligation, it stops being a hobby anymoreTwo favorite untranslatable Japanese words explainedThe phrase "Tabi no haji wa, kaki sute" and how this relates to foreign run bars and cafes Japan Hospitality Consultants: https://www.japanhospitalityconsultants.com/
    An SÓLÁS:  https://www.facebook.com/AnSolasIrishPub/

    More Now and Zen Japan episodes: http://nowandzen.jp

    Grow website traffic = Zo Digital: https://www.zodigital.jp/
    Great Sleep Starts Here = gugu Sleep Company: https://gugu.jp
    Japan Adventures via Camper Van = Dream Drive: https://www.dreamdrive.life

    Use the code word "ZEN" to receive discounts

    • 41 min
    Julien Rey: Leasing Director for "Thrillers & Fillers" at The Outlet! Company

    Julien Rey: Leasing Director for "Thrillers & Fillers" at The Outlet! Company

    A topic near and dear to my interests and business: Retail in Japan. Specifically the Outlet Mall industry.  This episode we hear from Julien Rey, the Leasing Director for the Outlet! Company.  Japan already has numerous outlet malls and Julien explains how his company is differentiating and innovating in this competitive market. The fascinating quantitative and psychological factors behind mall layout, location, and loyalty. The politics of space allocation, the strategies malls use to attract customers and increase "dwelling" time, and which brands are the thrillers and the fillers. It's a great listen and not just because of Julien's charming French accent, the economics behind outlet malls is thought-provoking. Other highlights from our conversation:
    The roles of a Outlet Mall Leasing Director: Retailer, Realtor, and RecreationThe "Domino" effect created by certain brandsThe challenges of convincing brands to open a store in an outlet mallHow to measure and what is the average outlet customer "Dwelling Time" in JapanRecent retail trends and innovations  you can expect to see and "experience"The intricate role F&B (restaurants) plays in outlet malls Pricing "tricks" used by brands to maximize profitsHow Japanese outlet mall customers differ from other outlet mall culturesLeasing contracts: All about the  "balance of power"The one brand Julien really wants in his outlet malls The Outlets Kita Kyushu: https://the-outlets-kitakyushu.aeonmall.com/
    The Outlets Hiroshima: https://the-outlets-hiroshima.com/
    Laketown Outlets: https://laketown-outlet.jp/

    More Now and Zen Japan episodes: http://nowandzen.jp

    Grow website traffic = Zo Digital: https://www.zodigital.jp/
    Great Sleep Starts Here = gugu Sleep Company: https://gugu.jp
    Japan Adventures via Camper Van = Dream Drive: https://www.dreamdrive.life

    Use the code word "ZEN" to receive discounts

    • 43 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
15 Ratings

15 Ratings

LeonBelmont12 ,

Amazing Voice Actor Turned Podcast Host

I initially discovered this podcast due to Andrew’s previous voice work in video games such as “Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness”. I definitely wasn’t expecting him to be hosting a podcast show. I listened to a few of them, and was pleasantly surprised at how invested I was. I’m an artist, and I would often find myself listening to these podcasts while doing some of my drawings. His presentation and enthusiasm really keeps the listener engaged, not to mention some of the topics and guests he invites onto the show are interesting in an of themselves. I’ve actually learned quite a few things about Japanese culture and practices by listening to this podcast, so there’s definitely something to take away from this. I highly recommend giving it a listen!

kasiamich ,

Insightful questions and very interesting!

I’m really enjoying the podcasts: intriguing guests, deep dives into fascinating topics, and overall a lot of fun. Can’t wait to get more!

Atami Tim ,

My new go-to podcast

Andrew, you are a great interviewer because you prepare, ask great questions, have interesting guests, and the perfect “voice for radio.” (As opposed to me, someone with a “face for radio”.). I look forward to your next podcast. ;)

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