My working experience at a Japanese company

20 Dec

===*advance notice*===
I’ll go visit my grandma in Osaka next week and will blog about my shopping, eat-outs, and general experiences when I return to Tokyo! 😀

I still wonder what the best balance is between life and work. But anyway, I’ll write up freely like a diary.
I’ve worked for a domestic company (that means Japanese company) for the past…nearly 6 months or so, and unexpectedly it was such a FUN experience to me. 🙂 I made a few good friends from work, which was not easy when I was working as a freelancer (as a house renovation planner). Those days, my ‘friends’ were more likely to be friends for benefit. We met for exchanging useful information for work or to share knowledge or experience of work. That was fun while I was engaged in the work, but our friendship was over when I quit that job. I noticed then that there was no reason to meet up with them when I have no more renovation work to share with them. Also I clearly noticed the friendship was based on benefit and without the topics about work, there has not been any particular topics that I feel like talking about with those friends. That was not a genuine friendship, after all…

Although I was shocked to see how company employees are working, it was yet, a fun experience as a whole. 😀 Japanese firms are unique in some ways, especially when they are compared with American or even European ones. There are pros and cons for every aspect, but one of the good points about Japanese companies in general is that a whole company is just like a family. Employees are like one big family. That’s why senior workers will try to educate junior workers. They are willing to help the followers to learn, grow up and contribute to the company, even if they sacrifice their own time or work.

Unlike western companies, Japanese companies are still having difficulties in dismissing their employees, no matter how the western culture has affected our society in some ways. Long time ago, we had no idea of dismissal in Japan, thanks to life-time employment system. It’s been said that life-time employment has been dead and we also have to be prepared for layoff, but as a matter of fact, regular employees are relatively protected from dismissal except for some special cases in Japan. If an employee does not do something really stupid, he will probably keep employed till his retiring age.

I believe that such culture and climate of Japanese firm definitely help generate family-like and friendly atmosphere in the office, especially when it’s relatively a big corporation like I’ve been working for. I really felt comfortable interacting with almost every co-worker in the office. (The bad aspect of such company is that people still think working long hours is greater than working efficiently or complete the work before the fixed hour.)

My job contact with this company is to be terminated, and my next job contact will start from January and it’s a Japanese venture capital company. I think their culture is very different from the current one. My working hour is shorter because I wish to stay more time with Pi-chan and do something for myself at home.

Now I’m thankful to the company for what I experienced in the past 6 months. 10 years ago when I was working as a company employee, I really hated that. That’s the main reason I started to work as a freelancer. But now I find myself more flexible, generous, and thankful, which is why think I no longer feel hatred, anger or irritation. I even feel a bit sad for leaving the company in a few days. 😦

It was because I changed that irritation could have become appreciation? 🙂 Have you experienced something like this?


13 Responses to “My working experience at a Japanese company”

  1. Jam @icoSnap December 20, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

    Hi Kirin, nice to see your post again and your inside story about working for a Japanese company. A friend of mine works in a Japanese company for about 5 years now, and she works for 12-14 hours daily. I'm not sure if she's getting paid overtime since I haven't asked but from what I have heard usually not (is this true?). Also, after work she spends time with her co-workers for dinner and drinks, so she gets home really late. Since I'm not used to the system of work in Japan, I do prefer to just stay home after work and eat with my family.

    • kirin December 20, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

      Hi Jam,

      Thank you for your comment. I'm not sure about Japanese companies outside Japan, but usually they should pay for overtime. (In Japan, overtime is paid with 25% added to the normal wage)
      Nowadays in Japan, I don't think many workers would eat and drink with co-workers. It was more common in my parents generation. In 1980, my father was allowed to spend certain amount of money every month given by the company he worked for, for taxi and eat-outs. It's no way today.

      • Jam @icoSnap December 26, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

        Thanks for the clarification! I wasn't quite sure since I have never worked in Japan.

  2. Salma December 23, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    I understand your feeling, Kirin.
    As long as any company makes all the workers a family, whoever leaves it will be thankful to it and may feel a bit sad for leaving his/her home (the company: the home of the family of all workers) despite all problems that are confronted while working!
    I wish you all the best!

    • kirin December 23, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

      Thank you Salma. ^ ^
      One of the employees in the office was almost crying when we were saying good bye the other day. I wish I could keep working with such nice co-workers. ^ ^;;

  3. Cath December 23, 2012 at 7:46 pm #

    Hello my dear friend! (This comment is totally off topic!)
    I was watching a video about the Hakuhodo brush, and thought of you immediately. The video renewed my respect for the Japanese culture again! It's amazing…
    Anyway… back to your topic (haha…) many of my colleagues cried when our school principal left. I think that's quite amazing. We were sad of course. I told my friend from another school. Her principal left too, and the teachers cried. But she told me it was tears of joy. :D:p

    • kirin December 27, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

      Hi Cath!

      Being off topic doesn't really matter. ^__^
      I remember I introduced a video about Hakuhodo (the famous JP make up brushes) before and I was also amazed at the very Japanese way of attitude towards their work.

  4. Elle December 24, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    That family like atmosphere is something so important that we barely have over here (that depends a lot of the owners of the business mostly I guess; if the owner has the attitude of taking care of his/her employees… that type of atmosphere could be experienced, we're lucky in that case). Thanks for describing all that, it was refreshing to read it 🙂

    I hope you're having a super week in Osaka!!!. And also wishing you a wonderful next year in all aspects of your life, filled with many many posts in your blog!! 😀

    • kirin December 27, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

      Thank you, Elle. I wish you a wonderful next year too!
      I had a good time in Osaka. I'll write about that tomorrow. 😀

  5. Alberto December 27, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    Wow… There are so much differences between your culture and ours…

    I think I already wrote about it, but in case not, here it is almost the opposite way: here people tend to work the less possible and get the most higher salary possible.

    Dismissing employees here is only "hey, you are not needed by the company anymore" or "you are not as efficient as I would like, even when you are working 10 hours daily"
    The employee receives a little compensation if the contract was terminated before the stipulated and that's all.

    This is one of the reasons because in Spain there are 6 million unemployed people!!!

    But for state workers (like me) the thing is different. None can dismiss you unless you had committed some serious misconduct or something. The salary is usually smaller that private companies, but you know you will have a salary every month.

    You also talk about your friends in that job, I also lost contact with people in my first job and even when I have their phone number we never call each other.

    Also, about the long times of work, I read somewhere some time ago that "Japanese do things slow and well done" but "Spanish do things fast and bad".
    Also Italian people is almost like Spanish, so if you go to Italy one day you know what to expect.
    I really don't like the Spanish way, but again I wouldn't like to work two consecutive days without sleeping. But if I have to choose one… I would like to work as a Japanese that like a Spanish.

    And you say "your new work will be less hours and will have time for Pi-Chan and myself". So… does that means that we will see more Koto and Kimono videos?

    I would like to hear this song :

    played my a Koto master like you !!!!

    Chao Kirin!!! Faliz Navidad (I'm not sure if Christmas is celebrated in Japan or that is only in western countries)

    • kirin December 27, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

      Hi Alberto,

      I liked the music, thanks for sharing. But no, no, I wouldn't be able to play something like this by koto. ^ ^;;
      Making a koto video requires me certain time for practice, which will be very difficult once I start a full-time job, because I have my social life to see friends, to join a seminar, to do house work, and many other things during weekends. On weekdays, I'll be busy writing up an article for TKE, replying to some emails, checking out things on internet, studying to improve my work efficiency and etc.

      Yes, we kind of celebrate Christmas in Japan but in a commercial way and no religious purpose at most of the cases. Christmas is not even a public holiday here in Japan. People sell/buy things more, under the name of "Christmas" and people party and hang out under the name of "Christmas" but most of us would not even remember it's a birthday of Christ. I'm not a Christian though, by the way. :p

      • Alberto January 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

        I guess if people in Japan knows what Christianity is about.

        Here we got little information about Buddhism, Taoism or Shinto… Unless you go to a library and search specific information you never learn about it in school or university.

        Also, I'm not Christian myself even when I live in a Christian culture ^_^

        About Christmas, here is also mostly a commercial thing and people has usually forgot about the true meaning.

      • kirin January 5, 2013 at 5:33 am #

        LOL then it's the same (about commercialized Christmas)!
        One more thing, most of Japanese people are not religious including myself, but we can somehow follow Buddhism or Shinto way to do some things. I don't know if New Year's celebration is from Shinto way or Buddhism way, nor the difference of funeral between Buddhism way and Shinto way is. >_<

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