Hell you have met your match; its name…… Salaryman boot camp.
Welcome to part two of a series of articles looking at what happens after you make the best decision of your life and join a Japanese company. Specifically we are focusing on the training period.
For those that missed it, part 1 of the series looked at the pre-entry training (yep the training will often start BEFORE you even get in the company) . Pre-entry training is kind of like an early Christmas present, a Christmas present that punches you in the face and makes you write an apology letter. Oh yeah.
This article is the first that looks at the initial training you get AFTER entering the company.
Much like the external exams mentioned above, this gasshuku (Remote Training) isn’t in every company, but it is present in many. For those who don’t know any better the concept of business gasshuku sounds almost fun. You get to stay in a hotel for free, get free meals and also get to know the new people that have also joined the company. Plus if you are a foreigner all the Japanese you can handle! Heck most people have to pay for this!
In reality though gasshuku is often one of the toughest things that any shinnyuushain will go through, regardless of nationality. My own experience brought me down to my knees and almost had me leaving the company (and I like to think I don’t throw in the towel easily) I mean I made it through the recruitment process, and that was no walk in the park !
Head out from Harajuku station, battle past the crowds, crepes and touts on Takeshita Street, ignore the multitude of designer and fast fashion chain stores clinging to Meiji Dori and head straight for the backstreets of Harajuku – ‘Ura-Harajuku’. The real beating heart of this area, here you will find a plethora of small independent boutiques and generally quirky stores sprouting from every side of maize like back streets. Whilst not completely unknown to tourists, the local crowd you will find here are somewhat different to that of the more popular (and busier) spots in Harajuku. It feels more real.
In the middle of all this, down a side alley and on the corner of a quiet street you will find ‘Hola’, an Okinawan themed taco café – not a bunch of words you often find together in the same sentence, but all the better for it.
I have many faults. One of them is that I am extremely ignorant towards certain things if I feel that they won’t affect me directly. I know it is not the best quality to have.
As an example in the summer of 2013 I had no idea that Princess Kate was even pregnant let alone that the baby was rumored to be a girl (she was about 6 months pregnant at the time). I generally didn’t keep up with the news between Kate and William because in all honesty I didn’t see how it would affect me at all. In fact I strongly believe that 99% of the stuff the royal family (and most celebrity) will do won’t affect my day to day life at all. It is this kind of attitude that results in me being ignorant towards a LOT of things.
*Funnily enough at the time of writing this article it seems that she is rumored to be pregnant with twins
Just before I came to Japan on my year abroad there were a lot of people who would talk about how Japan was due for a big earthquake at any time and that it would hit Tokyo pretty bad. I generally ignored these people because I thought that they were probably over exaggerating and that it wouldn’t happen when I am over there. I thought it wouldn’t affect me.
March 11th was a day that affected a lot of people I cared about, but it took me a while for everything to sink in and realize that it was part of my life too. On March 11th 2011, I was taking a shower in my dormitory in Warabi-shi of Saitama. I can’t quite remember if I had classes that day or I simply chose to skip them because I was exhausted from work. It was the middle of the day and I was going about my business when I suddenly found that I couldn’t stand up properly. My thought process was something to the effect of: “Wow, am I hungover?? I knew all this drinking was going to catch up with my health at some point, but this is… oh… this is an Earthquake.” So I rinsed off the shampoo off my head, wrapped a towel around my waist and ran up to my room. I put on some shorts and then my next priority was to secure my things and make sure nothing would be broken. It took me a second to realize that I’d be a bit broke if I didn’t get downstairs. I ran outside, putting on a shirt as I greeted everyone standing outside.
Our area wasn’t affected all that badly, so it wasn’t until later that I heard about people dodging falling debris and having to walk 8 hours back home due to traffic jams and stopped trains. It was much much worse than I had realized at first. I still remember me joking with my friend Vincent when hearing that the Fukushima plant had been damaged, saying that “Oh looks like we’re gonna have a new Marvel hero on our hands.” Our friend Aki quickly cut in to let us know that it was a much more serious situation and not something to be joking about. He was right, it is still something that we can’t say is completely safe, even 3 years later.
– 11th March 2011, 14:45
If there was ever a god, treacle sponge puddings are surely proof that he in fact exists , and at the same time seems to have a penchant for home baking – for how else could such a delight to the tongue have made its way into the world? The treacle sponge pudding has no qualms about being a simple desert, essentially just a ball of sponge wallowing in syrup. Juxtaposed against the French dacquoise or the mille feuilles, art forms in themselves requiring patience and skill, the sponge pudding epitomizes that very British way of ‘lumping’ separate things together and hoping for the best. Which (as with battered deep-fried mars bars, One Direction and The UK Independence party) can sometimes can go horribly wrong, but at other times (as with Fish and Chips, The Beatles and Monty Python) hits the nail straight on the head.
The Beginning of the End
Hello Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls. This is IT! This is the theme that got everything rolling. The big bang for Wijapan. It is the topic I always wanted to write about and the one I also wanted to avoid, due to it often bringing up un-pleasurable memories.
Now working in a Japanese company is one HELL of a big theme. We haven’t got that many articles here at Wijapan (YET!) but quite a few of them touch on working in a Japanese company. Jamie has introduced some of the annoyances to be found with everyday life here such as the good old hanko and your truly has talked about the diet surrounding working in a Japanese company and also a general outline of how to apply to one .
I would say though, more than anything that happens in the day to day life of working here, what has had the most lasting impression on me was the first two months, namely the kyouikukikan, the ‘training period’.
My first two months in a Japanese company were so mind boggling and shocking, that it made me realize that even though I had majored in Japanese language and culture for 4 years at university, spent one year living here as an exchange student and 6 months working for Mercedes Benz in Tokyo with many Japanese staff, I really knew nothing about what goes on in a traditional Japanese company or what it is like to work for one. I also think that unless you have experienced being here (or read this blog) you will never know.