The Japanese salaryman – one of the most iconic cultures of the Japanese industrialized world. He is the man that wears the gray suit. He is the man that is on the train first, and barely catches the last train of the day home. He is the man that stands on those crowded trains during rush-hour, barely getting crushed by other fellow salarymen. He is the man that will stand and bear those conditions for hours everyday. He is the man that makes a steady wage, the breadwinner of the household. He is the small but vital cog in the machine of Japan that keeps it running.
Japanese salarymen are the general stereotype of what it means to work in Japan. Uniformity and peace are essential ideologies of the culture, and salarymen are the embodiment of order. Most people pledge their loyalty and work their entire life for a single company, getting promoted every so often.
Women in the workforce are becoming more common, but many are still accepting the traditional role of housewife, occasionally working part time. Women who do work full-time work mostly do so on a non-career track with no hopes of ever getting promoted, and usually forced to retire after marriage or childbirth.
There is a heavy burden to bring in a stable income, and so Japanese people will work incredibly hard, with much overtime and little rest to get their tasks done. There is generally a lot of pressure by bosses to reach a certain quota, so pressure is high to reach them. You can often catch salarymen sleeping on the train from exhaustion and overwork. Drinking parties are a way for them to cope with that stress, and another mandatory socializing event pushed onto them by their higher ups.
I personally don’t like the Japanese working culture. They say that you must work to live, but it seems that many Japanese simply live to work. They have very little recreational time, and rarely take their vacation days because of the burden it would leave their coworkers.
Japanese work culture has been slowly changing over the years. More and more women are being given better positions in companies, and the salaryman is starting to disappear altogether, being replaced by interns and short-term workers, who are cheaper to employ and don’t get huge bonuses. It will be interesting to see how the workforce further changes with time.