Okay, before anyone bites my head off, I’m not trying to ruin Japan’s reputation here. I’m simply making a follow-up post on my ‘5 Things I Love About Japan’ post. Here are 5 things I hate about Japan.
(1) Work Culture
This one shouldn’t come as a shock, as Japan is infamous for having companies with terrible work conditions. There is a reason why the word ‘karoshi’ (death-by-overwork) exists. A company that has a karoshi-incident often becomes a ‘black company’ – a company with ridiculous unpaid overtime and bad treatment of employees. Of course, most companies in Japan aren’t like this, but long, unpaid hours are still common.
(2) Afraid to Break the Mould
While service in Japan is often considered to be world-class, on occasions, it can be quite inconvenient. Japan goes out of their way to help you in any way they know how. However, if you try to ask for something that they have not prepared for – service can go downhill fast. “No onions? But… such a thing… let me ask my manager if such an absurd request can be done!”
(3) Looking Down on Jobs
One thing I don’t like in Japan is that the only acceptable job seems to be a permanent employee position (seishain) at an office. Although it may not be spoken, blue collar jobs are often looked down on. Even contract/dispatch (haken) employees are often seen as not being successful by some people. My opinion is – if you work, that’s enough. The majority of industry in Japan is the service industry (70%) – not everyone will be able to have a comfy office job.
(4) Being Indirect and Ambiguous
Sometimes, you just want to get to the heart of the matter as efficiently as possible, right? In Japan, this may not be as simple as you might think. Especially in business, indirectness often leads to a waste of time and resources. In order for one company not to insult another company, words such as ‘no’ and ‘we’re not interested’ will not be used. Instead, they will say something ambiguous like ‘we’ll take it into consideration’ – you might be tricked into thinking you have a chance, but many a lot of the time this could simply mean ‘no, thanks’.
We’ve had some pretty heavy topics on the list so far, so for number 5, I thought I’d choose something a bit lighter. In the UK, we don’t have cockroaches at all. In Japan, you may not encounter them very often, but they are there! If you’ve ever lived in an old building with a cockroach infestation, then I’m sure you’ve had the same horrors that I’ve experienced! Luckily, there is a wide array of cockroach killing resources that can be found pretty much anywhere in Japan. They don’t come cheap, but can you really put a price on being cockroach-free?