Working for a Japanese company


I have said repeatedly that I wouldn’t want to work for a Japanese company..

Well, I have never held a long-term position in Japanese companies but have worked as a temp in several places. One was after I had graduated from college and the Japanese company was in Los Angeles. Although all the company employees were Japanese, the atmosphere was much more relaxed and it was nothing comparable to another temp job that I held in Tokyo. I guess, this was a beginning of my realization..that I just couldn’t work for Japanese companies.

But I want to emphasize that this is my personal opinion and my sisters are fine with working for Japanese companies and I guess it depends on your personality and what you are willing to compromise on..life is about assessing pros and cons and unfortunately, it isn’t just worthwhile for me to work for Japanese companies.

So I want to first talk about this particular company that I worked after college. It was in Los Angeles, and people were pretty friendly. The desks were arranged in a traditional Japanese style office…for instance, there were six desks, one of which was assigned to me, and I could see my colleague’s face right in front of me because there was no tall dividing wall. But the atmosphere of this company wasn’t that bad even though everybody was very quiet and serious during work hours. People didn’t really do overtime and just clock in and clock out..it isn’t how it works in most companies in Japan so I did like that part. I was a temp so didn’t care that much.

…but the next temporary job that I had in Tokyo was pretty bad. It actually wasn’t a Japanese company, and the headquarter was located overseas. Most of the employees in the company in Tokyo were Japanese (I saw 3-5 foreigners there), and they didn’t have a uniform (some Japanese companies do..). Men did wear tie and nice dress pants and women were dressed pretty casually. We could wear a casual dress and it appeared to be a little more relaxed than traditional Japanese company. Well, maybe it was relaxed but it was still beyond my “comfort” level.

Again, desks were arranged in a way that you sit right next to your coworker…and when I look up, I see my “supervisor” right in front of me. lol I hated him so couldn’t stand that. >_<;

Since it was a foreign company, they welcomed my English speaking ability but I could clearly see some jealousy in my coworkers but anyways, I didn’t pay attention to that too much.

1) Work was super super busy..we rarely had time to even get up and go to restroom..this part I must say that I think it was unique to the customer service environment that I was part of..I don’t think it is that bad in most Japanese companies. I was answering internal phones non-stop so it was pretty intense.

2) My coworkers seem more concerned about each other’s age I am sure that this is a cultural issue, and it was very interesting that they asked how old I was before asking my name. lol My coworker looked happy when I told her that I was the same age as her.  There was another temp employee and I don’t mean to be rude, but she didn’t look like she was in 20s but she insisted that she was 29 and of course, she was still the oldest. I wonder she had to lie about her age in order to blend in..

3) Office layout I was a customer service rep..the job I didn’t care for but in a large room, there were about 100 employees in the same room and there are no cubicles. There are many desks without walls..but Japanese people are used to this so I don’t think it bothered them as much as it did to me.

4) Long commute Tokyo is the most crowded city in Japan, and Since I lived right outside the central Tokyo, it was a longer commute for me. Every morning, I took a packed train and it was very crowded as I left work during so called “rush hours”. I was never harassed by “chikan” “Pervert” lol But it was exhausting to ride a crowded train everyday..so that made my work even more exhausting.

5) lunch break Japan is a collective society and people are educated to avoid confrontation because peace and harmony are valued. It is great but the whole thing reminded me of “kyushoku” in school..lunch was provided by school, and we eat with students in the same class..I was sick of these “team” mates but just couldn’t go the other way to have lunch on my own. My coworkers usually brought lunch box and we sat together in a group and ate together. Some of they clearly didn’t like me, so it was awkward and stressful..for me.

6) Nasty coworker Japanese people believe in negative reinforcements and subordinates who are receiving training from “senpai” (trainer, senior..someone who has been at the company longer) are supposed to “appreciate” the effort. This woman in my team particularly disliked me. I had a planned lined up to move to the states

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