Tuesday, 1 April 2008

PostHeaderIcon Salaryman

Greetings

As I’m sure most of you are aware, it is April Fool's Day today. I’ve spent the last few minutes wondering if a comma was appropriate for the previous sentence. I then checked that sentence and I am now paranoid about my spelling and grammar. Anyway, at a big meeting this morning my boss made an April Fool’s joke to everyone gathered. I had only understood what he was talking about when he explained “April Fool” at the end of his introduction speech. So whilst I was smiling politely like an oblivious idiot, Noah was recovering from some kind of mild shock. Apparently the ‘fool’ was telling the whole room that President Bush has been assassinated just a few minutes earlier.

The reason there was a large meeting this morning was because everyone had to introduce themselves to the new teachers/office workers. The start of the fiscal year in Japan is met with the arrival of new faces that have been moved about departments. It’s quite a strange phenomenon but there is some system where people are rotated every few years. This means they have a few weeks notice to pack up their things and move to a new school or office. I find it exceptionally bizarre and everyone is in shock when I tell them no such thing happens to teachers back home. Can you imagine a primary school teacher in Bearsden (nice area) being given 2 weeks notice and being told they now had to teach somewhere in Govan (bad area)? Overall… I probably ‘lost out’ in the changes because some of the nicest people have been moved. I still don’t know which elementary teachers I will be working with but I hope that some stay the same. I have another new supervisor as well. He currently looks terrified as he’s getting intense training off my previous one. The new guy that sits next to me seems nice enough but appears to be talking to himself an awful lot.

The schools have been off on holiday for a few days now so I’ve been sat at my desk until further notice. I seem to be filling the hours with anything apart from ALT work or Japanese study. I read about Scottish Gaelic for 2-3 hours yesterday and considered studying it to aid its revival. I changed my mind of course because who wants to talk like a dirty Highlander? Last weekend I had a barbeque down by the beach in Muroto. The waves were really quite big and provided us with something interesting to look at. We even met this backpacker from Tokyo called Ken and we gave him some food and drink. I had another goodbye party at my house on Friday night to which about a dozen people came. It was for my Japanese friend, Yayoi, who lives in Muroto but will soon move to Tokushima for a new job. On Saturday I had a terrible hangover (possibly food poisoning) but went to the mock Monet Gardens in Kitagawa with my friend Nish. Kitagawa is possibly one of the most backwater and rural villages I’ve seen but for some reason has this modern attraction on the side of a mountain. I don’t understand who/why/what but it has some interesting flowery stuff to look at.

That evening I went to an ‘important’ enkai in Tano but it was pretty woeful in all regards. However, I did have one earlier in the week for the junior high school that was a lot of fun. It was on a Monday night though and I always end up drinking a lot because I need to hempai (Kochi custom of sharing sake with everyone). I’ve been trying to raise my fitness now that my leg is strong enough to run on. I bought an ankle support thing and went out on Sunday night. It was pouring down with rain but I always enjoy that if I’m exercising outside. It turns out my town is an amazing setting for running about. You can run along the coast, through the rice fields and even up in the mountains where you can get a great view. I overdid it though and now my thighs ache like nothing else. I bought a blender too and it is proving to be one of my finer purchases. I just throw in fruit and ice cubes and the result is a healthy and delicious snack. Today’s work has been researching new smoothie recipes.

I almost forgot to write about the thing that was the main reason I came here to write an entry in the first place. I found a link to a blog written by a fairly depressed and overworked Japanese salaryman. The term is assossiated with the average Japanese male who slaves away for a company in the city and hardly ever sees his family. It's usually a negative image assosiated with neglect and a life dominated by working and drinking. However, this guy has been writing a small English entry every day for about eight years or so. It's quite a sad read as you can see the man yearns to escape his stressful life. In between his telling you off his 16 hour days he likes to walk in the park to catch the cherry blossoms and watch Charlie Chaplin films. Here are some quotes that make me think he is a bloody good bloke at heart:

I took a day off today,because it is my wife's birthday.
And I would like to take a break,as I worked herd for two years.
I am exhausted honestly.
So I went to buy a bouquet for my wife to Kishiwada.
After that,I stopped by the tower of Kishiwada castle.
I could find cherry blossoms ccome out around the castle.
But they were not full yet.

Today's my birth day.

But I still had to work over time until midnight.
I felt a little sad although I had no choice but to do it every year.
When I was exhausted and arrived at home,I found a birthday present from my daughter.
I recovered energy a little...

Isn't that touching but also terribly sad? The guy just wants to spend time with his family and look at the trees. I used to view the salarymen as those who had willingly sold their lives to a corporation and cared about nothing else but moving up the corporate ladder. Whilst this may be the case for some... I think I now feel sorry for them. If anything I think there is not that much option for a lot of Japanese males. I wonder if things will change in the future now that younger males seem to be moving away from this path ever so slightly. I don't really know what I'm talking about though.

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About Me

I am a 24 year old Scotsman currently teaching English to Japanese schoolchildren. I live in a small town on the east coast of Kochi prefecture.

Shashins