by Chris Scott

The UK publisher Stacey International has earned a fine reputation for what it calls its‘Gorilla Guides.’ Each volume is focused on a specific country and sets out to cater to the needs of the discerning traveller in negotiating its business jungle. March saw the publication of the first Gorilla Guide to Japan, written by Weekender contributing writer Ian de Stains.

A former BBC producer and presenter residing in Japan since the mid-70s, de Stains has served as Executive Director of the British Chamber of Commerce (BCCJ) since 1987 and writes frequently on doing business in Japan. He is also a regular on the speaker circuits both here and in the UK. As the foreword to the Japan Handbook (written by the British Ambassador, HE Mr. David Warren) points out, he is perfectly placed to write an up-to-the minute guide for anyone wishing to understand the ins and outs of doing business with the Japanese.

There are chapters on how to prepare for a meeting and what to expect during one; what to do when you are entertained Japan-style, and how to reciprocate hospitality. There’s a basic, but helpful, list of dos and don’ts, some useful language hints (though some clearer guidance over pronunciation is needed), and various practical listings of airlines, embassies, and chambers of commerce.

What makes the Gorilla Guides unique is their mixture of practical insider tips alongside listings of the most appropriate hotels and restaurants for the business visitor. The Japan guide covers not just Tokyo but other major centers as well. It is also helpful in steering the potential visitor to sources of information about Japan before departure, and it is not confined to the UK. North American and Australasian businesspeople will also find useful contact points.

There are plenty of suggestions for what to do with any free time (whether it is a morning free of appointments or an extra couple of spare days) and some of them would also be of interest to foreign residents here, especially the relative newcomers.

The same can be said for the interesting first chapter on Japan’s history from the Jomon Period to the present day. While the author clearly has no academic pretensions, and you might question trying to cram thousands of years into a single chapter of a book such as this, today’s Japan is put into historical perspective and the curious reader can follow up on many leads if his or her appetite is whetted.

The Business Travellers’ Handbook to Japan can be ordered from the Stacey International website ( or from Amazon.