I work in a small but steadily growing company not too far from the center of Tokyo. The job was originally ideal for me: fixed hours that started not too early in the day, abundant holidays, a nice annual bonus, and a great working location. I quietly but quickly moved up the ladder from being a trainee to being a senior staff member. I did the job well, worked tirelessly on improving on all aspects of my work while enjoying almost every minute of it. The longer I worked on the job, the better I got at it or so it seemed. My reputation quickly escalated, my creativity soared, and I received the recognition I reluctantly thought I deserved: the position of 正社員 (せいしゃいん, or welfare worker) .
Working many years as a foreigner in Japan often makes you wonder why there is a huge divide between Japanese and foreign staff members. There was a time I was curious to know what it would be like to be accepted as a member of the Japanese team, what kind of treatment I would get or if being given a permanent job would improve my work attitude. I should have just kept on dreaming…
Now that I look back a year on it, I wonder if all the hard work I did just to get this very much coveted position was all worth it: a world of competition, jealousy, intrigue and self-worthlessness. The hours of fun working time slowly turned into piles of paperwork, endless hours of it’s-all-just-over-my-head meetings, and incessant phone ringing. In the end, I stand a tired employee, too burned out to fulfill my dream of working permanently at a Japanese company.
Was it all just a dream? Or did I slip unknowingly into the dark abyss of a Japanese nightmare?
Blogger’s Disclaimer: The reality doesn’t even come close to mildly exciting so I had to spice up my post to make it more dramatic and somewhat a little more reaction-worthy. Cheers!