Comic: A Day in the Life of a Japanese Salaryman

YB_05_09 japan comic comics cartoon texan in tokyo day in the life of a Japanese salaryman

Not every company is like this, of course.

One of the main reasons Ryosuke and I moved out of Tokyo (to the quieter, surrounding countryside) is the incredible work ethic people seem to have in Tokyo. All day at the office, then drinks with your boss and coworkers, stumbling home on the last train, and grabbing a couple hours of sleep before heading back to work the next morning.

During the busy season in some offices, workers end up spending the a couple of nights a week sleeping at a nearby capsule hotel. There isn’t enough time to go home.

This seems to be the biggest complaint of foreign (especially Western) wives of Japanese men, in Japan: their husbands work too much. They don’t have enough time for date night, spending time with the kids, helping with housework, or hobbies. Their entire life revolves around work.

Ryosuke’s job wasn’t ever that bad, thankfully, but it still had him working more hours than what is emotionally healthy. He usually spent over 12 hours in the office, five days a week. On weekends, he was too exhausted to go out or do anything.

Lucky for us, we were in a position that allowed him to quit his job. We don’t own a house. We don’t have children (yet). We had paid off all our loans/debts. I had income coming in from book sales/freelance work.

Other people haven’t been so lucky and it really does break my heart. It’s so easy to get trapped in a less-than-deal situation because of financial constraints.


Like these comics? Check out my comic books (on Amazon):

My Japanese Husband Thinks I’m Crazy: The Comic Book


My Japanese Husband (still) Thinks I’m Crazy


Confessions of a Texan in Tokyo

About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

15 Comments on Comic: A Day in the Life of a Japanese Salaryman

  1. robertsj3 // 6 October, 2015 at 3:58 am //

    He has to wait around for his boss? Seriously? Doesn’t his boss also want to go home?

  2. Sounds like such an emotionally draining existence. So happy Ryosuke is able to relax and enjoy life a bit more.

  3. All your comics make Japanese businesses sound like cults.

  4. Yup. Add to that the hierarchical relationships, widespread bullying, and harassment and you’ll get my husband’s previous Japanese company. What a traumatic year. It was hard to quit, but we decided no job is worth your mental health or life.

  5. The salaryman lifestyle was one of the reasons my husband and I decided to live in the US. It isn’t always that bad, but I have friends who don’t get weekends off and I just don’t think that’s the lifestyle for us…

  6. It’s not the only factor, of course, but this crazy work “ethic” is also contributing to the dwindling birth rate. It’s not just ridiculous long hours of “work” waiting for the boss to leave, but the obligation to business-socialize with colleagues and clients. My son, who just graduated from college a year ago and landed a good job with a major food trading company deals with this all the time. I do wonder and have concerns about what kind of home life he’ll have if/when he ever settles down and gets married.

  7. That is why we moved next to his job and now they limit /forbid overtime ! So less money and he is back early ( does not do more even if he does haha). I wish we were in countryside but could not know the change of policy that was about to occur :)

  8. My wife has been through that with me, only im not an office worker. I am a truck driver and i used to do interstate in Australia driving from melbourne to sydney, brisbane and adelaide. I would generally be away from home 5 to 6 days/nights a week for 50 odd weeks a year. Now i drive petrol tankers localy around melbourne and im home every night!! (When im not on night shift that is lol) I am still trying to find that work life balance though as i still work 60+ hours a week!!

  9. Very emotionally unhealthy indeed. The pressure! I hope you are both finding your balance between work and play, these days. It’s easy to get lost in one or the other.
    I’m so glad things worked out that way for you two. I bet it has brought a lot of happiness and well deserved peace! :)

  10. I am glad that you both have time for each other. I like seeing the both of you do the videos together. Your husband is very funny, best of luck for you, by the way, what does he do for a living?

  11. P J Ebbrell // 26 September, 2015 at 4:22 pm //

    I wonder how much of the overtime is really productive?

  12. It’s quite extreme, not so healthy. Then I hear the Japanese have the highest life expectancy- does that include salarymen? Maybe they bounce back with an early retirement?

    • The high life expectancy of the Japanese does include salarymen. But it is an average. Ie, there are thousands of people who live well past 80 years old. They make up for the salarymen who die at a younger age.

      Some years ago there was talk of seemingly healthy salarymen who died suddenly in their 40’s….because of the stress of their work. I don’t know if that still happens in Japan or not.

  13. I’m very happy for you you’re doing your own thing now!! :)

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