Update from Kobe

Hiro's update on Japanese workers

Here are some excerpts from e-mail messages that Hiroyo Onoue, a Japanese friend of Kim Yu-gon, sent in response to Yu-gon's request for an update on the DRS reading, "Made in Japan: One day in the life of a typical Japanese worker." Yu-gon's friend is a female employee in a large corporation; Yu-gon sent her a copy of the DRS reading and asked her to compare the Kawasaki of years ago with the current situation. (The message seems very fragmented because the editor has deleted lots of content that was irrelevant to the DRS reading and has condensed several messages into one; some of the content has been rearranged in the interest of coherence, but the language has not been edited.)

Dear Yu-gon

So, this is the first class about the article? I will tell you about Japanese typical house and apartment.

In the tennis team, there are two people that work at Kawasaki heavy industries in your textbook. I am sure I can tell you latest real information about the company.

Mr. Morita lives at a company housing complex. According to some big company, there are very reasonable houses. There are a little small (two-rooms and tiny kitchen) and almost old. Usual apartment (just like my apartment), there are 2 bedrooms,1 Japanese style room (the floor covered TATAMI do you know?), one living-room and a small kitchen. Of course bathroom and toilet, too. (In Japan, bathroom and toilet is not in the same space as western countries.)

According to a rental cost of an apartment, I think too cheap about the article. I am not sure such a cost at company's rental apartment. But ordinarily, it will cost about $1,200 per month in Kobe. [ED: She may be referring here to individually arranged housing, not housing provided by the company.]

I enjoy working every day. Truly, I feel very happy to get my job. I've worked at this company over 2 years. This is my third job. My boss and other people around me are very kind, smart and respectable. And I think my job as a secretary is just fits on me. I like to meet various people and take care of people.

We almost take a train and bus to go to a company. The train is always terribly crowded during morning and evening.

According to the article, they use time card, do exercises, and start or lunch time says with whistle blows. But I think that because it is at a plant. And I am not sure it does even now. At an office like I used to work, we didn't have a time card and so on.

According to Japanese sleeping time, I think that is up to people. As you know, Japanese business man is almost hard worker. But not so much recently. I am not a hard worker, I work in my office from 8:30 to 17:00.  Saturday and Sunday are always holiday. My husband is a little different. His office open from 10:00 to 18:00 but he always has to work from 8:30 to 22:00 even he can't get overtime fee. Also, he has to go to a company Saturday without any payment. But he can sleep at least 6 hours. I have a friend who is a president of one little company. He is always very busy and he works almost every day from early morning to midnight. He said his sleeping time is always 3 hours everyday. He often stay his company to work. But he is a rich man, you know.

I think the time almost Japanese worked hard was 60's and 70's. Lately, we are ordinary worker like yours.

The other day, I sent a mail that an article about Japan to my friend who works at Kawasaki. He said to me that he can't good at English but he will try to read one. [He] told me that the article was very interesting to him. He said the writer might be have experience to work that factory. That is a little old story, but almost is true episode. Well, he told me that now few people have such beliefs that if he/she work hard, it will come back in some way. It might be big change in their minds. One is the time card system was disappeared about 15 years ago. Another is the gray uniform is changed to green one.

Yours, Hiro