Elementary School and Salarymen






Window view in Kyoto.

So I wanted to talk more about productivity, specifically the ideas around work ethic. To unpack work ethic in Japan, I want to view how those in Japan are raised and then enter the workforce, and in general the morals and ethics that surround it. Especially (as usual in my blog posts lol) when comparing to the work ethics of America. I knew that living and studying in Japan would increase my perspective on many topics so I enjoy explore the subtle and not so subtle nuances. 

In class we recently discussed our experiences in elementary school, and comparing it to the elementary school experience in Japan. A common thing we all noted is that in Japanese elementary school, the kids altogether will clean their classroom and the school at the end of the day. This is something that was pretty uncommon amongst my peers in our own respective elementary schools (America and China). We also watched videos of Japanese schools and saw everyone working together to sweep the floors etc. I feel like this is a nice idea if more practiced in schools in America, to teach kids that cleaning is essential and to also teach that whatever mess you make, you’re going to have to clean it up. I feel like having these roles show kids early examples of responsibility and accountability. 

And then upon entering middle school and high school, I’ve been told that school becomes very intense and testing becomes important in order to get into a good college. I feel like this aspect is similar to American schools, I may not ever be able to fully compare the two but I feel like the stress vibe is similar.

However, I heard the once you enter college in Japan, the workload is less heavy. Its kind of like when you’re in college, its now your time to take a break before you enter the work force. This is a little different from college in America. 

There’s also the Japanese concept of: the salaryman. 

Basically, like a white-collar worker but more intense. To become a salarymen after graduating is expected from young Japanese men. Salarymen are expected to dedicate themselves to their company and remain at that company for their whole careers. Their whole life will revolve around work. There’s the idea of Japan being a communal society vs an individualistic society. Wherein a Japanese society, its encouraged to work for the good of the group rather than the individual. Whereas in America, competitiveness is often encouraged. 

I think in America, its encouraged to work hard in order to rise up in ranks and be the best you can be. On the other hand in Japan, its more respected to work hard so that everyone and your company can succeed. I can honestly say that I’m not sure which is better or worse. They’re definitely varying degrees to consider when addressing productivity in Japan. I’m still trying to learn and grasp the concepts day by day and acknowledge that I may not ever fully understand.