Category Archives: IKEA

Am I becoming Japanese?

“All good things must come to an end”, or so the saying goes. I started working at IKEA Kobe at the end of 2014 and just finished my last shift a few days ago.

In hindsight, I have learned many lessons. I put myself in a situation where I was forced to use daily conversational Japanese in the workplace. Additionally, I improved my keigo (polite Japanese) ability in order to provide better customer service. Working a part-time job in Japan, and especially in retail, requires you to use Japanese to communicate with both co-workers and customers.

There were many things that surprised me about Japanese customers. At IKEA Kobe, for example, oftentimes customers would bring us a small amount of change that someone forgot or dropped somewhere. That is something I have never seen (not can I imagine happening) in Sweden.

I’ve also been called many nicknames by customers: mostly “Gaijin!” or “Mite Gaikokujin da!”, Amerika-jin”,Eigo no hito“, “Aa marufoi da!“. Or in the case of co-workers: “Danieru”, “‘Danieru-san”, “Danieru-kun”, “Dani-chan”.

What surprised me the most was the following experience. On my last day at work, I realized that I had become somewhat more Japanese compared to when I first started working there more than a year ago. In Sweden, customers are King; but in Japan, customers are God.

In this small island country, a salesperson will do EVERYTHING for you. Even when paying with a credit card, you have to give it to the salesperson, who will swipe it for you and do the whole process for you except when entering your PIN code.

It was weird for me the first time, but now my feelings have changed after working in Japanese retail for a year. A few days ago, there was a fight between a foreign customer and me over the credit card machine. I tried to take her card and swipe it, as I have done in the past, but she didn’t let me do it. She wanted to do it by herself. She was so fast. At that moment, I thought to myself,“God damn it! What are you doing?”. However, I remember doing the exact same thing as a customer one year ago, and the realization of how “Japanese” I have become shocked me.

That being said, I’ve made some good friends, and I will never forget my time at KEA Kobe!

Good bye IKEA Kobe!

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What is a Kräftskiva?

A Crayfish Party or Kräftskiva is a traditional eating and drinking celebration in Sweden. The party is held in August and is usually enjoyed outdoors. The party accessories are funny paper hats, table clothes and paper lanterns. Akvavit and many other kinds of strong liquor(snaps) are served together with beer. The crayfish themselves are boiled in salt water together with fresh dill. We then serve it cold and eat it with our hands.

This is how my Swedish family does it

When my family have kräftskiva there is a good atmosphere with noisy eating and many traditional drinking songs (snapsvisa). The alcohol consumption is high in regards to the food consumed. We like to suck the juice out of the crayfish before finishing it. We have the crayfish with bread, surströmming, västerbotten cheese, salads and other dishes.

This is what happened in IKEA Japan!

IKEA Japan in Kobe held the crayfish party unusually early in July and of course indoors in the customer restaurant with about 50 customers. I participated as a Swedish culture bearer to show how to manage the party. There were an awkward feeling in the beginning when we introduced the crayfish party and I demonstrated a drinking song solo called “helan går!”. As the time passed however and the alcohol intake increased, the Japanese customers softened up and became more cheerful.


ザリガニパーティーや Kräftskivaは、スウェーデンの伝統的な飲食行事です。そのパーティーは、通常8月に行われ、屋外で飲食を楽しみます。パーティーアクセサリーは色々あり、紙で作られた面白い帽子、テーブルクロス、ちょうちんなどです。アクアビットやその他、さまざまな強いお酒(Snaps)と、もちろんビールも一緒に飲みます。ザリガニは自体は新鮮なディルと一緒に塩水でゆでられています。そして冷やして冷たい状態のザリガニを手を使って食べます。





What did they put on that hotdog? IKEA Japan

By now, you must have noticed all the weird food combinations in Japan. One might think that the Swedish IKEA is only selling meatballs and salmon, but there is more than meets the eye! Having worked at IKEA Kobe for half a year, I have noticed some very peculiar things, and will share with you THREE foods today!

First is the mentaiko cheese-dog. It’s a type of spicy marinated roe mixed with cheese and nori, all of this on top of a hot dog!

Next is the strawberry soft cream hot dog. It’s basically a hot dog bun with ice cream instead of a sausage and frozen strawberries on top!

Last but not least is the yakisoba-dog. It’s a hot dog with yakisoba and mayonaise as condiments!


今まで、あなたは日本のすべての奇妙な食品の組み合わせを気づいているはずでしょう。一つは、スウェーデンスタイルのイケアがミートボールとサーモンを販売していると思うかも知れませんが、それは大間違い!思ったより多く日本らしい食品もあります!私は半年間 IKEA Kobe で働き、いくつかの非常に奇妙な事に気がつきました。今日はその中から三つの変な食品を紹介します。





New job in Kobe IKEA Port Island, Part 3

After my second week of work, we had a very interesting Christmas party! Christal, the store manager, made a speech and welcomed us. There were free food and drinks; a live band; a fancy costume competition; and an announcement about the annual Christmas gift.

In a nutshell, I like my new part-time job… a lot! Although I sometimes wonder what an MBA student is doing selling sausages and frozen meatballs? But then again, why not? If my aspiration is to learn more about Japanese business, what better way is there than to go outside of an MBA classroom and straight into the job market? How can you really understand a company and its work culture if you don’t start from the bottom up? I believe that making a career is not just about climbing straight up the corporate ladder. And right now, I’m it climbing sideways.

And oh did I say everything in IKEA 神戸is in Japanese? Check their latest facebook Post!






New job in Kobe IKEA Port Island, Part 2

So far, even though I’ve only worked two month, I can say that…

A lot of things are similar to my previous work place. My co-workers are nice and my boss is friendly. This may vary from store to store, but I feel that in general, the staff are engaged and motivated to work. I also think that it’s fun going to work (at IKEA).

I can say that most people working at IKEA Japan have an open-mind and wish to learn more English and about new cultures, etc. The meatballs served in the restaurant also taste the same as in Sweden (although the jam served here is in much smaller portions).

There are of course, some differences. I believe the differences between the IKEA of Sweden in Barkarby and the one in Port Island-Kobe in some ways represent the differences between Sweden and Japan in general. For example, the IKEA store in Japan is way more tidy and clean compared to the one in Sweden. In Japan, even a basic shopping tool such as the yellow bag is folded neatly and placed in straight columns, while in Sweden, they are simply forced down a big box.

While the bistro in IKEA Sweden always serves pizza slices, Japan has different set menues and have been through potato slices and fried chicken so far I’ve worked here. The Japanese restaurant also serves local dishes such curry rice, which cannot be found in the restaurant in IKEA of Sweden.




IKEA Japanで働いてる人のほとんど(多く)は、オープンマインドで、英語など新しい文化にとても興味があります。レストランで売っているミートボールはスウェーデンと同じ味味で、ジャムもちいさな例のひとつです。

しかしもちろん、色々な違いはあります。私は、スウェーデンのIKEA Barkarbyと日本のIKEA Port Island神戸の間でのいくつかの違いは、スウェーデンと日本の一般的な違いを表していると考えています。例えば、日本のイケアストアは、スウェーデンのと比べると、よりきれいで清潔です。日本は、買い物に使われる黄色のバッグがきちんと折り畳まれ、まっすぐの列に配置されていますが、スウェーデンでは、大きな箱に単にいれています。