I’d like to share with you about Japanese working hours, which is requested by one of my blog readers, Leonard the other day from his comment. (Dear My blog readers: Please feel free to send me your request that you want me to write about! Thanks!! 🙂 )
When we go to Europe, we are surprised to find that stores close at 6 pm, and they also close on Sunday. It’s also a surprise they don’t have convenience stores around.
How is Japanese working hours? Most office workers have Saturday, Sunday, and national holidays off. They work from Monday to Friday 9 to 5. But it’s very rare that we are free from overtime work. As I mentioned in my post about Japanese working environment the other day, Japanese companies do not like to hire more employees, which is because they want to eliminate extra expenses they have to spend for every employee for their commuting, insurance, pension program, and so on. As it turns out, every company has as small numbers of employees as possible and makes them work longer hours instead of filling with additional employees. I wonder if there are any employees these days who leave office at 5pm, because many of them work up until 9 or 10pm, and there are even those who work up until 1 or 2am next morning to cover his or her workload. (It doesn’t mean they can have next day off or start working from noon or something.)
Of course there are employees who can leave office at 5pm but that’s because their job is easy and simple. They can be easily replaced by someone else who works for cheaper wage in the future.
When it comes to service industry such as real estate, they may close office on Tuesday and Wednesday and they open for weekends and national holidays because that is the time they can expect more customers. It’s tragic when you work for service industry and your wife works for non-service industry, because your holidays never meet each other. You can never have holiday together!
How about shops? Shops usually open from 10 or 11am to 8 or 9pm. Small shops have a day off once a week, but big shops such as fashion department store will be always open except 1st of January. I remember they used to have Wednesday off, as they are considered service industry, but for the past 10 years and today I see them always open, almost 365 days annually. Let me tell you one big difference. When I was shopping at a store in Venice, Italy, I was told to go out of the store because they are closing in 2 minutes. In Japan, even when they are closing, they say “We are closing the shutter now, but please take your time. We can wait until our last customer checks out. We never make you rush. Please never mind our closing and enjoy your shopping as usual!”
If you doubt, go to Marui department for example and stay inside the shop when they are closing. You’ll hear this announcement all over the building. 😉
There are even shops that open 24 hours a day 365 days a year.
Convenience stores and some super markets are open 24 hours. Especially convenience stores are everywhere, and in that way we will never miss something to eat and drink even if we forget to buy them. Major discount store such as Donkihote, bookstore or video rental store such as TSUTAYA, dry cleaning stores, hair salons, beauty salons, restaurants….so many places in Tokyo offer services for 24 hours. It’s not only Tokyo, (but I guess there are many in Tokyo) you can check it out from here, if you read Japanese.
When do they take days off? Those who work for shops and restaurants can have only 8 days off a month, according to my friends who have worked for shops. 8 days means national holidays are totally skipped, and of course they have to avoid Saturday and Sunday as much as possible. They would take turns to have weekends off and so it’s not that every weekend they can be off-duty.
I think Japan is very convenient and functional place for customers, but if you try to work here, you know how much sacrifice we have to make to support our customers. “Customers are GOD!” Things like this is spoken as a matter of course and without even a bit of hesitation in this country. It’s so crazy!
That’s why there are arrogant customers who take advantage of their superiority against employees. “Are you saying that to your precious customers? You’ll never know how much inconvenience I had to have because of you.” Nasty customers would even make the employees apologize so many times. In other countries, the employees would say, “Sorry for that, but it’s not my fault. The computer made mistakes.” or whatever. But in Japan, it’s not possible to answer to your customers like that. Even if it was not your fault, you have to apologize because you or your computer or your coworker or whoever that belong to the company is representing the company. I think Japanese people put emphasis on apologizing more than appreciating something. I’m sure we hear “sumimasen” （すみません）a lot more than “arigatougozaimasu” （ありがとうございます）.
Even while I am writing this, I feel so sick of this supressed society.
But I’m telling you the truth. This is another true story of Japan.
I can tell you this because I’ve seen it and lived in it as Japanese.
I’m fed up with this, but only being a customer, it’s so easy! (Sometimes I’m totally mad at what employees say to me: it’s not my fault! and then I realize how much I was spoiled in Japanese society!!)
Is this only in Japan? How are the things in your country?