Q&A: The One about Answering Your Questions Part I

Hi everyone!

I get asked a lot of questions in regards to traveling, so once in awhile, I’ll feature a Q&A on the site!

So, let’s begin…

Q:  Is it true that people in Japan are overworked and work very long hours?  I want to work in Japan but I’m scared of working long hours.

A:  Yes, there are companies that work their employees up the yin yang, more than the 8 hours that we are used to in America.  And unfortunately, there always have been news of deaths of overwork but now, with social media, death by suicide by people who were overworked and felt no way out of their predicament has been featured in the news prominently.

The term is “Karoshi”, death due to overwork and while working long hours is nothing new in Japan, the cases have become so high profile that there has been calls for change.

The most high profile case of late involves 24-year-old Matsuri Takahashi, an employee of the advertising agency, Dentsu.  She jumped to her death and it was known that she was barely sleeping and working more than 100 hours of overtime a month leading up to her death.

In Japan, young workers who are desperately looking for a job (especially out of college) feel they don’t have any other choice but to accept the long overtime hours.

While karoshi has happened in Japan, the biggest difference today versus in the past is that working long hours secured lifetime employment with your company, not the case in today’s Japan.

The question is how will Japan address karoshi, despite it being on the news and there are calls for reform.  So far, a lot of talk of changes but talk is talk.  People want to see action.

As for foreigners who want to work in Japan, I asked friends who currently are working in Japan and they said for their work, they always work overtime.  They leave work early in the morning and come home around 10 p.m.  This is just a few people that I asked but it always depends on the job, some are better and some are worse but for the most part, if you plan to work in Japan, it’s something that you’ll need to prepare for, just in case.

But don’t be surprised if you find many employees sleeping on the train.


Q: Would it be rude to use electronics in a train, subway or shinkansen?

A: I think these photos are a good indication to show that people do use electronics on a train, subway or shinkansen.  I use a tablet when I’m on the train, many use their smart phones and I occasionally see people on their laptops.  Some people are busy working on homework, I see businessman doing their work on long commutes.  But it’s common to see.

Q: What is your favorite drink that you often get in Japan?

A:  My favorite drink is Royal Milk Tea.  But I do not drink it often, as I tend to get water or always want to try something different when I’m in Japan.  I think in terms of soda, I like melon soda and I tend to get a lot of Orangina and coffee.  But Royal Milk Tea is my favorite, but I try to keep my daily sugar intake quite low.

Q: Dennis, I know you are Filipino American but in Tokyo, have you ever found any Filipino stores?

A:  Yes, I have.  Granted, it’s nothing like Ocean City but you’ll find Filipino grocery shops or stores around.   You just may need to google it, but they do exist.