On working in JapanSun, November 19, 2006 - 6:03 AM
I started working on Thursday. This is the first "real" job I have in Japan. And on the second day, I already discovered that Japanese people loves working overtime.
Well, maybe they dont "love" it, but they work overtime like it's nothing and except you to do the same.
On my second day there, I was asked to stay late and so I did. I put in 12 long hours. On a Friday night.
Then they asked us if we could come in on Sunday.
So 4 out of 5 of the translation team showed up today, and I was the first one to leave "early", at 7pm.
Oh, and this morning, I was sure that I would be the only person at 8am in office gear, but no. There were TONS of people, on a Sunday morning, in thier suits and thier briefcase, and with thier game face on.
I'm sure it's not all like that, and it depends on what kind of jobs or what industries you work in, but this totally blew me away.
I never really worked at a very very competitive place, but I NEVER, ever, had to work this much in the states.
(well, there was a time in my life when I only worked 2 days a week... so I might have a wierd comparison going on here)
Another new experience for me that comes with working, is, commuting.
You've all heard about the craziness of inhumane rush hour of Tokyo.
I was caught in this rush hour 2 mornings ago, when there was an accident on my line causing about half an hour of delay.
There were flooding of people waiting for the delayed train to come, and when it did, insane amount of people shoved themselves in the train.
I hesitated, and thought about the option of getting on the next train, but made my decision and bravely shoved myself in.
I was pushed agaist between the door and some middled aged men.
It was quite uncomfortable, to put it mildly.
But then, it was also a zen-like moment, where I could feel myselp traveling outside of my body.
I really think that's how people endure it, to meditate and leave your physical body while you are being pushed and shoved around in that train, with your personal space completely invaded by stinky strangers.
I'll try to take some picture of this someday. It's really intense.
The other 2 days of commute wasnt that bad. I could sit the entire way and had a good time doing my crossword and reading up about Bush's behind being whipped. My commute is just about 3 hours roundtrip- it's like commuting from Tacoma to Seattle everyday, maybe even more. I never thought I would be the type to be able to put up with commuting, but now that I have to, I'm hoping that I can get lots of reading done.
Now it's time to go soak my feet, finish my crossword, and get ready for another long long day tomorrow...
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Akico, I feel for you. I put in 15 years of commuting to work in Tokyo. Granted, as a foreigner, I was able to opt out of a lot of the overtime that my Japanese colleagues felt pressured to put in, but even at that it was quite a work-centered life. My answer to crowded trains was to put a walkman (these days an iPod) in my ear and stick my nose in a magazine. With a certain amount of zen-like concentration you can almost forget where you are. I did notice that often I would get myself involved in projects at the end of the day and end up staying past quitting time just so I wouldn't have to deal with the worst of the rush hour.
Frankly, if I was still involved in commuting to work, I probably would have left Japan by now. But happily I now drive 4 km to work and only have to take a train to work once a month.
|Wow, Akico...that's crazy! I've heard stories about how overwork is the norm in Tokyo, but never directly. Each time one of my Japanese college friends from the UW moved back to Japan (always Tokyo, never their hometown), I never heard from them again! After the commute and working 12 hr. days, how do you get a chance to complete your errands? I suppose food is a must, so do you eat out a lot? Gee, I'm surprised that you're still blogging...amazing!:D|
15 years of this!! That's just crazy. A big "Otsukaresama" to you! I'm glad you're out of this crazy overtime and the crowded train. It's not that bad for me since it's only been a few days, but ask me in about a month! And yes, I'm definitely investing in an ipod. I finished reading economist and newsweek in 2 days because of this long hours of commuting...
Yeah it is that bad in Japan, and it's taking me by surprise too! I dont know how people get thier errands done since it hasnt been that long for me, but I guess you just have to run around during your lunch break (that's if you even get a lunch break- the people I work with dont even take lunch. they are crazy). And, as for food.... the benefit that comes with living so far away is that I'm living with my mommy for the first time in over 10 years and she gladly cooks for me :) But on the way home, there are a lot of yummy temptations, I assume I'd be eating out A LOT if I lived alone...
feeling for you...Many Japanese understand the OT is part of the JOB, just like when Americans clock in on an 8-5 job, the first hour and the last hour is fluff. Generally. I trust you are grateful that this part of this culture does not require you to comply (or risk insubordination) to these cultural norms and as often as possible, show some love to those who stay later than you with a piece of chocolate or somethin'.
My 2 en