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Dealing with workaholic Japanese girlfriend

Bosox86

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So I'm American military stationed here on mainland for about a year now (and not planning to leave anytime soon). I will admit before moving here I knew literally nothing about Japan, but I've been fortunate to live off base here and have worked to immerse myself when I can, as my job is still rather consuming compared to maybe other expats.

I've been dating a girl here for a little over 3 months. Thing is, she regularly spends 14-15 hours a day/5-6 days a week at work (she works in human resources for a company), travels on the road several days a week, and often doesn't get home till midnight. I have no doubt she's at work during that time, but for an office job it's a bit of a culture shock to me, and I don't exactly work 9-5 myself. When I ask her if that's really necessary, she says yes, that's the norm for her work.

Anyways, I've read articles of course mentioning how workaholic the Japanese are, I see guys in suits taking the late/early trains looking like a truck hit them, and live next to a juku so I know some kids seem to burn the oil too, but since I spend most of my day around other Americans, I'm just curious: is this really true? Anyone else have experience with this? I'm just trying to figure out if it's cultural and how to broach the subject with her, as I'll admit it bothers me a little that she's rarely around and I seem to compete with her job for time.
 

thomas

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14-15 hours a day appears to be a bit above the average, but that sounds just like my wife. And she's in HR for one of the big companies, too.

Welcome to the forum!
 
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Sounds about right. Depending on the job, perhaps a touch high, but not remarkably so considering the people I've met and their jobs.

Your job may be time consuming, but don't forget about the 'nonexistent' 59s and the bowl games just happening to be on the TV which just happened to get wheeled into the room which just happens to be where a lot of people have gathered to 'work' during working hours. Let's not even discuss the 96s a certain branch is famous for... Not a lot of expats get those perks! ;)

Just poking fun, welcome to the forum!
 
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I'm just curious: is this really true?

Yup, pretty much so. Just be happy that she is actually willing to work at all. Lots of J youth aren't. Besides, after she gets married, she will probably never work again, especially if she has a kid. More tradition here.
 

mdchachi

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I don't have anything to add except another "yes" data point. Not at all unusual. Though it sounds like she may be on the right side of the bell curve.

I've sometimes wondered what would happen if trains ran 24 hours and there was no "last train" in Japan. At least it ensures most people leave the office by 10 or 11.
 
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Hello Bosox86,

I'll add my vote to the comments above. Its definitely not unheard of. Also, remember that there are different values to be considered. For her, being at work so much is a way to show loyalty, seriousness, and trustworthiness to the company (and, vicariously, it allows you to see the things she values). In the west we usually have a more adversarial relationship towards work ("I work to live" sort of thing). We see our leisure time as sacred, and resist any encroachment on it - it is part of the culture that work is something you endure so that you can live your real life during weekends and after hours. Its not necessarily so for your girlfriend.
 
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A good friend once had a Japanese girlfriend whom he met while on exchange. After her graduation she started working right away, and one time she came over to Europe for just a weekend (arriving Saturday, leaving Sunday) because she couldn't take any time off.

My wife had steady office jobs that were always pretty much 8-6, so did her parents until they retired. I guess it depends a lot on the company and maybe even the city. I have read some articles where young Japanese entrepreneurs try to create "more appropriate" working conditions for their staff, but I am sure it will never become like it is in Europe.

Good luck, and credits to you for trying to understand her situation. It can take a lot of effort to make a mixed culture relationship work. I've been married for 2 years now, and we still have minor issues related to each other's background every week. Flexibility and an open mind are the keywords here!
 
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...We see our leisure time as sacred, and resist any encroachment on it - it is part of the culture that work is something you endure so that you can live your real life during weekends and after hours. Its not necessarily so for your girlfriend.
This was brought home to me in full force when I tried to organize an event for some people at work to meet some Japanese professionals in the same field. My Japanese friend was absolutely unable to understand why it would be a social gathering where family could come and people might discuss topics other than the profession itself. I could not, for the life of me, figure out why anyone (without being forced to do so) would show up to something on a Saturday afternoon which would be strictly work related and non-work discussions would be frowned upon.
 

mdchachi

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This was brought home to me in full force when I tried to organize an event for some people at work to meet some Japanese professionals in the same field.
This isn't just a work/leisure thing. Japanese people tend to segregate their work/social/family circles too. So if one is organizing an event say, hanami, it would be highly unusual to invite their tennis friends, their work friends and their school friends all to the same gathering. Whereas in the U.S. if one is having a July 4th BBQ or something, typically you'd invite everybody you want to come regardless of how you know them.
 
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I've sometimes wondered what would happen if trains ran 24 hours and there was no "last train" in Japan. At least it ensures most people leave the office by 10 or 11.
A similar reason is why Japan never successfully adopted Daylight Savings Time. What?! Go home early to enjoy time with family? WHY?

My Japanese friend was absolutely unable to understand why it would be a social gathering where family could come and people might discuss topics other than the profession itself.
Yup. Class reunions are the same way. What?! Bring my spouse or gf/bf? Whatever for?!
 
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Well, I would say, put that military skill to use and spy, spy and spy. maybe she has another man on the side..... lol joking.

To answer your Question please read number 2 "working" and 3 "team" on the count down 15 Japanese Passions on Japan-Talk.com

15 Japanese Passions - Japan Talk

I hope this help you.
 

Kazekawa

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Though it is not exactly the norm, it's also not unheard of either. Some companies expect people to put in a lot of overtime hours... some companies require it... without pay. She has to make her choices on what she wants to focus on in life, and if you are not able to adept to that lifestyle, much like many women have to adept to their husbands in the military being shipped somewhere for months at a time then it may be time to rethink the relationship.

Work is god in this country and it takes a serious toll on relationships. In fact, many decide not to have them at all.
 
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The long hours can be normal. My wife works 9-12 hours a day which is the norm. I usually work 9 hours a day. I know people whose partners work about 12-15 hours a day. Here it's a huge culture shock for us, at 6pm we usually punch out and leave in our country's. But, in Japan the first person to leave the office is often considered to be the laziest. People often wait for the boss or supervisor to leave first before they start walking out. To not be busy at work in Japan and have little to do is considered very bad.

Working hard is considered honourable and something people will do out of duty and loyalty to their companies. A lot of people, especially men, put work before family.
 
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Interesting. Our older daughter is now working at a Japanese company and in her part of it they seem to work to rule--any overtime and you get daikyu later. She's in research.

Her husband is at the same company in biz-customer facing ops and seems to be in more the traditional mold of things--longer hours. I think he gets OT pay, but I'm not sure if that vs daikyu is a choice he can make or not.
 
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Is she actually working, or obliged to go out drinking with company people?
she has to go out drinking with her boss/collegue its not optional, It`s extremely difficult to have normal relationships in Japan as it dictates people are married to their company then their colleges then you....its a shame really as I've met a few Japanese people who would love to at least have weekend

Working hard is considered honourable and something people will do out of duty and loyalty to their companies. A lot of people, especially men, put work before family.
working too much is engrained in the in the langue おつかさまです...fortunalley sleeping on the bus,train, floor, classroom and work is never frowned upon.
 
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@Davey
I used to work 12-14hours its intense man in Sweden/Germany its considered abuse in Japan its just meh .....the worst is working in places like Aoyama where they have a 5pm jingle bell where admin staff(mostly the women) can go home, mani hated it!
 

thomas

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You guys are crazy. I'm focused on reducing work hours as much as possible.
I have to concur, sounds pretty excessive. I've been attempting to increase quality time at home too, unsuccessfully so far. But 14 hours a day...?

What I'm dreaming of is a real two-day weekend. Every week.

@Davey, @Glenski , does this involve commuting, preparation at home, etc. or is this your actual work time at office?
 
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Thomas,
I'm in my university office from about 8am to 6:30pm Monday to Friday. My commute is only 10 minutes one way. Lucky me. Much to my family's dismay, I am forced to take work home and work 2-3 hours a night as well. On weekends, I also do work at home, whether for university or for the teachers' organization where I belong and serve as the editor of the journal.

I don't like taking away time from family, but certain work has just got to be done, and there isn't anyone else to delegate it to. What's more, my son's school vacation time doesn't overlap with mine, so even when I'm off (or he is), we don't have the convenience of scheduling much time together. At least I'm not in a company situation where I have to sit mindlessly in an office trying to look busy because the boss won't go home to his wife, or where I am forced to go out drinking for business. :thumbsup:
 
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Thomas,
At least I'm not in a company situation where I have to sit mindlessly in an office trying to look busy because the boss won't go home to his wife, or where I am forced to go out drinking for business. :thumbsup:
this.....a danish co-worker once cried over this poor girl missed seeing her bf, who came all the way from europe for a visit,boss was busy playing puzzles and dragons to avoid the wife.

Salary Men(women) are strong
 
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