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Life of the サラリーマン?!

Posted by on August 18, 2009 in Japanese Culture | 2 comments

Japanese salary man

I recently found this movie on YouTube, and thought I should share it with you. It’s only a 30 sec video, but I think you can see a lot of Japanese culture of  the so-called サラリーマン(salary man).

I found it very funny and true. This video shows how a lot of Japanese men live their life.

First, they are expected to graduate a decent school and get a job, get married and have a baby. But, did you realize that all he did after his marriage was commuting in a 満員電車(a completely packed train), working, and drinking? And many losing their hair… 🙁 Many business men go out to drink till they throw up on the street or even in subway to forget about the work and stress.

It is slowly changing but many Japanese companies are still strong on 終身雇用(しゅうしんこよう) which means to work in one company for your whole life. To get promoted to higher positions 出世(しゅっせ), it is very important to have good relationship with your superiors, 先輩(せんぱい), which often also means social obligations.  So, if you are asked to go out to drink after work by your superiors, you “have” to go.  We call this relationship building with your superiors 付き合い(つきあい).  Building a good relationship with your customers is often based on drinking as well, which is called 接待(せったい). Many corporate men have to be good at 付き合い and 接待 to financially support themselves and their family, which often makes them focus on their work much more than their family.

Japanese Words List

サラリーマン (sararii man) – men working for a corporate company.

満員電車(まんいんでんしゃ、manin densha) – a completely packed train

会社 (かいしゃ、kaisha) – a company

終身雇用(しゅうしんこよう、shuushin koyou) – To  work for one company until retirement

先輩 (せんぱい、senpai) – superiors in your school or company

付き合い (つきあい、tsukiai) – social/business acquaintance

接待 (せったい、settai) – business reception

飲みに行く (のみにいく、nominiiku) – To go out to drink


  1. Japanese business culture is so very different to European business culture. Very few people will go out for drinks with their colleagues after work and people rarely work for a company for more than a few years, let alone their entire working lives.

    Do Japanese women have a similar business culture to their male counterparts? I’ve heard that many married women, especially those with children, tend to work part-time or give up work entirely but I don’t know much about what unmarried or career women are expected to do. Do women join men in their 飲み会 or do the women go off and do their own thing?

  2. Hi Kelly,
    Thanks for your question! There are more and more career women nowadays and also many women who will continue their career in full time after marriage. Women do go to 飲み会 or 接待 too. I even did when I was working in Tokyo. 飲み会 is very fun if you like the people you go with 😉
    But it is still common that women quit their jobs when they get married. I guess a lot of Japanese women like to take a support role in their marriage.