If you ever visit Tokyo, you cannot walk down the street or board a train without bumping into a
Salaryman. “Salaryman” is the Japanese-English term for male white-collar workers. The typical
salaryman spends roughly 13 hours per day inside a cubicle, averaging about 80 hours per
week. This does not include the mandatory after hours drinking required for them to bond with
their co-workers. They rarely have time to see their families and friends, let alone get enough
sleep. This is the reality for most of Japan’s white-collar workforce.
Foreign salarymen in Japan are no exception and are also expected to put in these long hours.
A British Youtuber going by the name of Stu in Tokyo recently posted a humorous yet real look
into his daily life as a salaryman. The video shows a timeline of each day with a counter for the
hours he has slept versus the hours he has worked. Almost every day is the same. He wakes
up around 7AM and makes breakfast, walks to the train…and the next scene is him rushing to
catch the last train before 11:20 PM, and then eating some convenience store food.
The video makes you think that he primarily eats granola but in fact he also eats the staple of
the salaryman diet, onigiri, or prepackaged rice balls. His favorite is Japanese style Tuna
Mayonnaise. He also makes time to workout before crashing for the night. He wakes up at the
same time the next day and the cycle repeats itself. In the end, the hours that he works double
the hours he sleeps every week.
The reason that he made the video was to show his friends and family a look into his life and
the reason why he has no free time. It ended up going viral on sites such as Reddit and
Youtube. It even caught the attention of CNN, landing him an interview. Stu’s job has its peak
seasons, so he only has to work like this for about two and a half months out of the year, unlike
the average salaryman who has to put in long hours all year. He is 25 years old but he says
being overworked hasn’t aged him…yet.
Stu’s company didn’t fire him either after the video went viral. Maybe it’s hard to find any
foreigner (or anyone) who is willing to work 78 hours a week with only 35 hours of sleep. With
the Abe administration getting ready to ban overtime on certain jobs with new pending
legislation, maybe soon everyone in Japan will get to live the exciting life of Stu.
The video is great entertainment but it also explains one of the mysteries of modern Japanese
life: why the population is going down and why people aren’t having children.
If your every waking hour is spent at work, when do people have the time or energy to meet
people, date, mate, or even procreate? The answer is: they don’t.