5 typical aspects you will encounter at a Japanese workplace

Jan 16, 2018


Today, I want to introduce 5 typical aspects you will encounter at a Japanese workplace. For example, at some places, it’s taking off their shoes. After reading this article, you will know many hidden rules and feel less uncomfortable at work.

Then, let’s look at 5 facts and hidden rules!


1. Frequent outbreaks of drinking parties

If you are accepted to a new workplace in Japan, you will be invited to a welcome party (with alcohol).

Japanese businessmen often hold drinking parties. Sometimes, your superiors may tell you to drink as much as you can. But, do not drink too much.

Restrict yourself. The real meaning and stated sentence are different.

Therefore you have to maintain good manners at drinking parties.

Also, Japanese often have get-togethers for business. If your superior says that you also should join, you should join and serve the beer. It’s the type of Japanese-style manners.

Recently, gender equality is stronger, so the old culture that only women should serve the beer is disappearing. But, there still are some men who think that women should still serve the beer.

Please remember that you will be invited to drinking events often.

So if you can not drink alcohol, be extra careful about your consumption. Especially December and January are the biggest drinking party months. Japanese businessmen often hold year-end-parties in December and a New year banquet in January.



2.A lot of overtime work without pay

Japanese working hours are so long. Comparatively speaking, Japanese working hours are at the top of the list. But companies don’t usually pay you for all hours that you work. Therefore A lot of overtime work without pay occurs.

Therefore, even if your workplace decided that the leaving time is 5 o’clock or 6 o’clock, you will not leave the workplace at the time you think you will. Most Japanese also do not like unpaid overtime work, but they still do it because they were asked to do it before they leave.

Of course, it’s not compulsory, but you might feel guilty leaving the office to your superior or colleague.

I recommend that if you want to get along well with colleagues, you have to bear with the unpaid overtime as long as you can.

Of course, unpaid overtime is regarded as illegal, therefore if you feel your workplace is taking excessive unpaid overtime, you can file a claim to Labour Standards Inspection Offices.

If you have a girlfriend/boyfriend or a family member, you have to spend a lot of time with them, try not to be a victim of unpaid overtime work.

You have a justifiable right to be free after your specified shift.


3.At some offices, you have to take off your shoes.

At some offices, slippers are used, so you have to take off your shoes. Or you have to prepare clean shoes for the job. Japanese sanitation is very strict, therefore if your workplace deals with food or something like that, your workplace would be strict in terms of sanitation and have a rule for all the workers to remove their shoes.

Japanese often take off their shoes when entering the house, then use slippers or walk with bare feet.

We think it’s cleaner than entering with our shoes on, therefore we, Japanese take off our shoes when entering our workplace as stated above.

So, please remember that if your workplace has such rules, you have to pay attention to the cleanliness and if a superior or Human resource department say that you have to bring slippers or new clean shoes for job, do not forget them.

You should also remember that you have to scrape the mud from your shoes before taking off your shoes. Cleanliness is very important at a Japanese company.



4. Atmosphere that you cannot confront your superior

In Japan, the boss is the most important, therefore if you have a better idea than your superior, you cannot talk about it freely.

In my opinion, such an atmosphere is harsh and out of date. You will feel that it’s unfai because you are important, even if you are new employee or not. Japanese businessmen respect the old tradition about new employees or young businessmen obeying with patience, even though it’s irrelevant and wrong.

Therefore if you come to a Japanese workplace, you may feel strange.

Many foreign people do not feel comfortable, and some people leave his or her workplace because they cannot say anything about their superior or similar occurances like that.

So, you have to remember that if you want to work at a Japanese workplace, you have to bear with such things and become accustomed to Japanese hidden rules that you must obey your superior unconditionally.

Your life at the workplace may be very harsh and severe, but after you’ve experienced working at a Japanese workplace, you will become a stronger person.



5.Japanese workplace still do not have gender equality

Recently, gender equality is more and more important, especially in advanced countries. But, in Japan gender equality in the workplace is still lacking. So, Japanese women who work just as hard as the men feel it’s unfair, even if they are better and have better ideas.

These days, many companies have introduced maternity leave and other systems so that women can work more comfortably.

Still, gender equality is not fully accomplished.

I previously mentioned that Japanese businessmen respect tradition, so even if a clever person has good idea for solving a problem which would make the company grow, it would never be mentioned.

Especially highly skilled women are not usually welcome, because Japanese businessmen have very high pride in their skill and want to be better than women at the workplace.

Of course, there is a wage gap between men and women as well. Women can not get enough salary, even though they work hard and achieve many great things in the company.

If you are woman who wants to work at a Japanese workplace, you may feel that these things are unfair.


How do you feel about these typical aspects which I introduced in this article?

I think that you might feel that Japanese workplaces are complicated and difficult to understand, because there are many unfair aspects.

But for these aspects, old traditions are behind them.

Even if you feel it’s unfair or uncomfortable, you are not able to change anything. However, you should keep trying.

Let’s enjoy daily life at Japanese workplaces and improve something in the system!


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