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What Does Gembutsu Mean?

Gembutsu is a Japanese word meaning "real thing" and it is a component of the so-called "three reals". This is the Japanese mindset teaching that when there is a problem somewhere, one should get as close to it as possible before proposing a solution.

By observing the actual process at the actual place, the problem solver is able to obtain actual data. This effort will allow for a decision to be based on facts, instead of relying on second hand information collected by others.

In practice, this results in short office meetings, with the brunt of work being completed on the shop floor.

The three reals are:

  1. The actual place of work, shop floor or gemba (pronounced gem-baah)
  2. The actual product or gembutsu (pronounced gem-boot-sue)
  3. The real facts and data or jujitsu (pronounced jew-jeet-sue)

The 3 reals are a fundamental element of kaizen.

Principle 9 of the Toyota Production System: Genchi Gembutsu - Go and See for Yourself to Thoroughly Understand the Situation.

From: The Toyota Way, Liker, 2004, McGraw Hill.

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