I work 9 and ½ hour days (including lunch), compared to everyone else here, with the exception of part-time workers, this is a short work day. I have also noticed that I get off of work before most high school students get out of school. I was walking around at about 6:00 PM the other day and saw a parade of uniformed kids riding their bikes home. I’m so glad I wasn’t raised in Japan.
From the information I’ve gathered, the reason why work days are so long is due to two reasons. One, some people consider work their life, they don’t really have much in the way of hobbies and are somewhat at a loss of what to do once they are forced into retirement. Two, due to cultural reason it is very difficult to leave work before other people in your section do. This results in an infinite loop as no one wants to be the first to leave. In this case, reason one super charges reason 2. Some people actively enjoy being at work and stay there as long as possible and as long as they are working it’s difficult for other people to leave.
Mountain Bike once gave me some advice about working in Japan. “Don’t”.
Note: Part-timers work 7 – 8 hour shifts (including lunch).
Despite the fact that no one in the company is particularly fluent in English (I asked around a bit my first couple of days), all of the manuals and documents the company produces are written in English. Considering that English is the business language I guess it shouldn’t be too odd, but Japanese companies will send English documents to each other as well. This resulted in the Japanese > English >Japanese translation I talked about in an earlier post.
Note: In one of the manuals I saw, the word 警報確認 (alarm confirmation) somehow became “Stop Flicker”.
Our lunch break is about 45 minutes. When it starts the lights in the office are turned off and everyone grabs their lunches and finds a place to eat. There is a company that delivers bentos to us around lunch time. People at the company can opt to buy these lunches or bring lunch from home. The people that bring the lunches also sell smaller food items for people who want a few more side dishes. There are two main places that people can eat, their desks and in the break room on the third floor. There’s also a gathering of girls in our meeting room, and gathering of guys at a table in our section (this is where I eat).
Anyways, after people have finished their lunches, they usually have a bit of free time to do whatever they want. One of the more popular activities seems to be taking a nap. At first I thought it was a bit odd, but now I’m a huge fan it. Some people even have pillows and mattresses, though these might also be used in the case that they spend the night in the office.
Note: Of all the places to eat, the meeting room is the only enclosed space. I can’t help but think that the girls are plotting something evil in there.