Many were depressed by some of the comments made by overseas YouTube users who found the workday in the video long and tiresome.

It’s no secret that Japan has a work-life balance problem. Working extensive overtime, spending long hours on commutes, and being expected to attend every company drinking party and event means little free time and even less sleep. Some companies, known as “black companies”, even have a toxic work environment on top of that, making them truly awful places to work.

In part because of this bad reputation, many people outside of Japan have rated the idea of working there as extremely unappealing. That became even more evident when English-language comments on a YouTube video called “A Day in the Life of a Japanese Salaryman” went viral on Japanese Twitter because of how negative they were.

The tweet, posted by Twitter user stkn (@dstknb), says, “The international comments on a video about the life of a Japanese salaryman are the best”, with a screenshot of comments such as, “You forgot to film Makoto crying himself to sleep”, and “I’d join the Yakuza if I had to live this way.”

The video in question is by YouTuber Paolo From Tokyo, and documents a day in the life of a salaryman named Makoto, who lives and works for a sim-card company in Tokyo.

In the video, Makoto gets up at 7 a.m., leaves for work at 7:15, and arrives at work at 8:20, before anyone else. Since he is the newest employee, he has to set up the office and make coffee for everyone. Though there are six other people working there, the next person doesn’t arrive until 8:50, so he is working alone for the first half hour of his day. 

At 9:30 Makoto goes on his first of several excursions throughout the city to meet with clients and associated companies, which results in him spending a good chunk of his day on public transportation. In the meantime, he eats his meals at his desk, which are purchased from convenience stores and supermarkets.

Makoto finishes his last meeting at four, after which he returns to the office to catch up on all the work he missed while he was out, including e-mails. Finally, he finishes at 6 p.m., but he does some volunteer work at an after school program sponsored by his company after work, which leads him to get home just before nine o’clock, when he does a little bit of work from home before washing up and going to bed.

Though the video is also a really interesting look at Japanese work culture, with lots of little facts about Japanese business practices, the long day is the key theme that most international viewers took away from it. Leaving the house at 7:15 and only getting home at 8:50–and then working a bit from home–means that Makoto is spending more than 12 hours on work-related activities per day, which, considering we are awake for only a few hours more than that, is quite a lot. Other English comments on the video were similar to those shared in the tweet:

“Now i understand why most anime are based on high school students. They are the last days of any kind of freedom.”
“Suddenly i started loving my job…”
“Me: I want to live in Japan Video: No, you don’t”
“…Makoto seems like a nice enough dude, and he’s a mentor for school kids, so that’s cool, but when does he get time for himself? Reminds me how fortunate I actually am.”
“How he still keeps smiling after all these bs errands made me depressed.”

Though Makoto’s work life depressed international viewers, Japanese viewers, by contrast, were more amused than anything else. Those who commented on the video were actually jealous, because Makoto’s work-life seems pretty lenient by comparison. In fact, his particular “salaryman” experience might be a special case, considering his company is both small and foreign-owned.

“The fact that he gets home before nine is pretty nice actually.”
“I don’t really want to say this but it looks like that’s a pretty nice company. For a salaryman that’s a rather unique schedule.”
“Are salarymen’s lives these days really this easy?”
“That’s not normal. Go observe someone from a black company!”
“To the foreigners watching this, this person has a pretty good life.”

Those responding to the tweet, however, may or may not have seen the video since it wasn’t originally linked in the tweet. Their comments ranged from sad amusement to despondent agreement.

“It’s one thing if you can work normally and have a single family home with a garden, multiple cars, three to four kids and enough money to easily pay their college tuition, and an amass of assets, but what are Japanese people working for now?”
“The comment saying ‘I’d join the yakuza if I had to live this way’ is so funny”
“When I think about how our schools are grooming us just to be human labor I get really uncomfortable.”
“I want to see a video about someone who works in a company overseas! Although this guy has it pretty good lol”

It’s a sad reality that many Japanese people hate their jobs so much that they fantasize about killing their boss, but at least there are a few workers out there who aren’t being worked into the ground, judging from Makoto’s experience. By many standards, it’s still not an easy life, but no one ever said life was gonna be easy, did they?

Source: Twitter/@dstknb via Hachima Kiko
YouTube/Paulo fromTOKYO
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