Thursday, October 3, 2013

Deep Breath

After getting fired and then rehired in July, I've been spending a lot of time thinking about where I went wrong or what I should have done differently. I have been quite depressed here in Japan for the past few years, and this was just another reason for me to fucking hate this country. Despite my best efforts to try and think of the positive, the negative thoughts really come back quickly and last longer than any positive ones.

I thought that I had a grasp on Japanese culture, Japanese office culture, but my confidence has been shaken. So, I've been searching and reading through blogs, newspaper articles, forums and book excerpts online during work to find what I've been missing. I think that I've gotten so focused on just trying to get through the days that I've lost track of how well I used to be at reading people, at evaluating situations and at just thinking in general.

It's so easy to say, but your experience in a Japanese company is totally dependent on the people around you. Especially the person who is your manager. When I was a CIR, I worked with a handful of Japanese coworkers who had extensive overseas experience. They knew what it was like to be a foreigner. They trusted me to work with them to create translated documents. And even if I disagreed with some of their methods, at least they had that overseas experience.

In my current position, aside from one new coworker, no other Japanese coworkers have extensive overseas experience. Aside from some light travel, they've never left Japan. They have no idea what it feels like to be a foreign resident of a country. Their views of me and my other non-Japanese coworkers are shaped by the fact that they see us as tourists. No matter how long we are here, that's all they see us as.

What's more is that their ideas about how to work with us are based on their experiences working with the handful of other foreigners who worked there. And since they don't understand and don't want to understand, there is no support. They just don't care that we non-Japanese don't get to go back home on 3-day weekends or the end-of-the-year break. They think that excluding us from decision-making, from becoming seishain or more is the right thing to do because we'll eventually leave or...something.

So. Again. Your experience is very, very, VERY much dependent on the people in your office. If your manager/coworker/boss wants to work with you and respect you, you'll be in a position better than most. *Deep sigh*


  1. Hello wonder girl, I stumbled on your blog and found the insight a little horrifying / fascinating. I'm actually in Tokyo at the moment, in Meguro, but I've certainly wondered what working life would be like here (this is my 3rd visit in about 4 1/2 years).

    Cheers to you, I'm sure it's not been easy just from reading even a few of your posts, but I admire the resilience and the honesty on display here as well.

    Ken, struggling artist

  2. Hi, Ken!
    Thanks for the comment. I'm sure that my experience is unique in Japan and probably the U.S., too. haha! I guess finding a great workplace is hard in any country, but if you do make the leap to working here in Japan, best of luck to you! Thanks again for stopping by! :D