Day in the Life of a Typical Japanese Office Worker in Tokyo

Day in the Life of a Typical Japanese Office Worker in Tokyo


So in this video I’m going to show you guys what it’s like to work in a Japanese office. This is Emi, a 24 year old Japanese woman working in Tokyo, and she’s just waking up. This is her morning routine – she doesn’t take a shower to get ready for work, as some may assume. Like many Japanese, she prefers taking a bath in the evening before she goes to bed instead. How long does it take to put on your makeup? Nice spread, but who made breakfast for you? Well, Emi completely bailed on breakfast. It’s okay, though, she’s trying to be on time. In fact, many Japanese just grab a small breakfast like an onigiri from the convenience store on their way to work. So if you didn’t notice already, Emi still lives with a family, which is a fairly common thing in Japan – even after graduating from university. Emi commutes to work by train, but the closest train station from her house is about a 10 minute walk. The average commute time in Tokyo is about 45 minutes to an hour. An hour train ride in the morning! Sounds a bit long but Emi is quite lucky as she doesn’t need to transfer trains in the morning like others. So this is the train. Right now, it’s arriving. It’s such a long, long ride! So Emi’s office is located in the Otemachi area, which is considered Tokyo’s premier business district. She works for a company called Pasona, one of the largest staffing service companies in Japan. There’s about 4000 staff in her office alone, and about 9000 in total worldwide. Is this building only Pasona people? You don’t have a monitor? And that’s Emi’s boss. Super friendly. And this is Emi’s office – as you can see, very open and colorful compared to most Japanese offices. Since Emi works in the PR department, her first task of the day is to read all the newspapers, so she’s up to speed with what’s going on in Japan and the rest of the world. And today’s Monday, so she has to catch up on all the news over the weekend, so she’s in a bit of a rush. Check out this view outside, it’s pretty dope. Is everyone here doing the same job? How are people seated in the office? So check this out – this happens often in Japanese offices. This lady is passing out souvenir sweets from her vacation. It’s called “omiyage” in Japanese. It’s customary in Japan to bring something back from your vacation for people in the office. It’s kind of a way to show gratitude to others for letting you take a break from work and for them covering you while you’re away. Oh, and there’s another person doing it! In my 15+ years in Japan, I’ve never seen anyone forget to do this. So one thing I’m really noticing is just how quiet this office is. There’s not a lot of loud voices, which I guess when working in a workspace like this, where it’s all open, it’s very, very helpful. Literally it’s like actually fairly respectable. Not a lot of people are talking – you can actually get work done here because no one’s too loud. People actually don’t wear headphones. In my previous office, I used to wear headphones. But that was probably just me. But I’ve actually noticed something interesting. I don’t know if it’s something worldwide. There was a desk with a little humidifier on it. Is that something that’s just Japan, or does the rest of the world where like people have humidifiers on their desk because the air is too dry? So what I’m showing you right now is the company’s morning assembly meeting. In Japanese, it’s called “chourei”, and it takes place every morning. I’m kind of surprised that Emi’s company still does this, being as progressive as they are, as you see this more commonly practiced in old traditional Japanese companies. Basically during the meeting, they share important company news from different departments. I suppose it’s equivalent to today’s company email newsletter blast. Then after the company-wide meeting finishes, each department gets together and they do the same thing. Okay, since Emi’s busy with her work, let’s play Curious George and explore the office. So let’s just go down here and see what they have… So you can see this is the pantry area. So she fills all the water heating pots up in the morning. It’s then literally used to make tea, which is served during client meetings throughout the day. So this is quite interesting because this is one of the executive offices here. And you can see that there’s no wall here – it’s an open space, it’s just like this entire office. So I just found out the CEO has a whole stack of blank birthday cards to give out to people. What he uses it for is like, he knows a lot of people apparently, and whenever there’s a birthday, he just grabs a card he likes and then writes on the birthday card and sends it. But I’m really liking his style. It’s pretty dope! Emi, where are you going? It’s crazy she’s actually going to work out in the middle of the day, at 10 o’clock right now. It’s quite progressive, in my opinion, that a company allows employees to work out during the day. Let alone having a full gym built inside of the office. You do need to pay a monthly fee, though, and if you want, they have personal trainers to customize your workout. It’s pretty neat that they can, like, work out in the middle of the day. She’s actually still wearing her suit. If you do want to come here and like get a full workout on, then you can do that as well. Check that out – slippers on top of my shoes. Pretty cool, so you can like, come here, wear your regular shoes with the slippers on. So Emi, you have an hour until lunch break. What are you working on now? How do you like your job? So now, she’s making phone calls and doing your standard computer work – checking emails, drafting documents, filling out reports etc. – you know the deal if you’ve ever worked in an office. So another interesting thing is that the CEO actually just sits right here in the center of the office. His chair is just right here. I think it’s pretty impressive that he just sits right around everyone. Anyone can just like talk to him when he’s here. What do you guys prefer? Do you guys prefer having like blocked-off cubicles? Or do you like this open office style? One thing though, he does have the nicest seat in the office. That’s one difference. So I’m in the seminar room right now. Emi is downstairs doing her work, so let’s explore the office. I heard there might be a combini on the third floor, so let’s go check it out. It’s a proper combinb, has like everything you would want. It has drinks, bakery stuff, even has some bentos, all the onigiris you’d want. It’s kind of cool just like walking around this place. Here’s a quick peek into the little boy’s room – not much different than the rest of the world. Oh wait, maybe except the sound button built into the bidet. It helps mask noises when using the toilet. Never really heard anyone use it in the men’s office toilet. But apparently, it’s almost always using in the women’s toilet. I guess women are more embarrassed to let others hear their, uh, noises. I heard about this – this is a global salon. Let’s go inside and check it out. Oh, wow. It’s nice to see the employees working on their English skills. And so apparently, they even have this open space here for everyone to use, which is nice. Look, man, Emi has a sweet office. They shouldn’t have let me just walk around by myself this whole entire time. Finally, lunchtime. She’s asking coworkers if they want to go to lunch together. You probably don’t notice but she’s using “keigo”, which is a polite form in Japanese. So I’m guessing that Emi’s talking to her coworkers that are more senior than her, called “sempai”, which makes her the “kohai” and it’s probably one of the more difficult things to master for non-Japanese working in a Japanese office. Oh, in Japan, it’s not only polite to hold the open elevator button for everyone to get out, but sometimes, people will go back and forth on who’ll hold the elevator open, as it’s another way to earn those office respect points. So the first bar has this bakery, and we have salads over there, and if you’re an employee here, you get a discount. So I guess we get to choose all the bread that we want. So I found out that all the food sold at this bakery is made in the building by the company’s subsidiary called Pasona Heartful. They employ workers and artists with disabilities and their philosophy is “talent knows no handicap”, which I think is pretty cool. They even created a lot of the art seen throughout the office, including the Olympic designs we saw at the elevator earlier today. And what’s wonderful is that the first floor cafeteria area is open to the public. So if any of you decide to visit the office, I definitely recommend getting the shio butter pan – it’s amazing. Something else you may not know if you’ve never seen it before – the wet towels provided with the food is to wipe your hands before you eat. Just wanted to mention it as many countries don’t offer wet towels. Another thing that might surprise you is that everyone’s eating their salad with chopsticks. And when you finish, you’ve got to clean up your garbage and put away your trays or plates if they have any. This is also common in Japanese fast food joints like McDonald’s or soba shops. Anyway, I’ve gotten used to all these since I’ve been in Japan for so long. But what do you think about the wet towels, salad chopsticks or even cleaning up after yourself? They have a farm up here and I gonna check it out. So we have a few more minutes before Emi has to go back to the office. But Emi asked me if I wanted to check out the farm. Yeah, you heard me – a real deal farm in the office. I was pretty surprised myself. Apparently, it’s open to the public so if you want to take your kids and pet the animals, it’s all good. I personally prefer to see animals in their natural habitat. But, to each their own. You can actually come up here during your break time and feed animals. I mean, she’s like pretty lucky to be here working for this company cos you don’t get a lot of Japanese companies this progressive or like, offering so many services. But I do have allergies, so I’m gotta keep my mask on. Oh, and they even have fierce-looking owls. Oh, and just in case you’re wondering about the animals’ well-being, I’m told the facility provides 24-hour ventilation, the animals are returned to an outside farm every few months, and owls are allowed to fly around the entire floor in the evenings. That was actually pretty cool. So in the afternoon, she has several meetings packed into her schedule. She has a health check. There’s a difference between “genko” and “kenko”. “Genko” check, not health check. So basically, her senpai reviews a document she made and provides feedback to finalize it. Awaji Island is an island in the southwestern part of Japan. Emi’s currently working on a project there so she has regular video conferences with that office. 5:52 right now. It’s not even six and people are already starting to head out. I mean, if you look around, there’s still people that are working, obviously. But I think we’re heading out now. I guess she’s done. In old school Japanese companies, it would have been death to leave the office before your superiors. In fact, I have several friends working in those type of offices, and they’re always working late. Seems like Emi’s office is way more flexible, and lets you leave when you finish your work for the day. Make sense, right? Apparently the restaurant in the basement floor is free for employees. That’s amazing, isn’t it? And you guys know, I love free. I don’t think the beer is free though. So all four women work in the same company. But two of them work in sales on a completely different floor. They all met a few years back during company training. See, when new grads enter a company for the first time, they’re required to go through a formal company training called “kenshuu” in Japanese. It’s different with each company but in their case, they actually had an induction ceremony, spent one week off-site together, and had an additional two and a half months of training at the office. This is like how it’s supposed to be right? A regular work day in Japan. Let me know what you guys think in the comments. If you thought there was anything that like, stood out to you, or that you thought was weird or that you thought was just like pretty much standard in the rest of the world. Let me know in the comments. If you guys want to see what I’m doing on the daily, Let me know in the comments. then definitely check out my Instagram account. And if you want to help support the channel, check out my Tokyo merch, the link is always in the description. And now I can finally have a beer with them.

Eugene Islam

100 thoughts on “Day in the Life of a Typical Japanese Office Worker in Tokyo

  1. Find me on Instagram: PaolofromTokyo & Toe-Kyo Merch – https://teespring.com/stores/paolofromtokyo
    As a Typical Japanese Worker in the video, you'll see that Emi:
    – still lives with her parents (very common)
    – still works for the same company she started with after graduating university
    – takes baths at night
    – doesn't have a lot of time for breakfast before work
    – commutes to work 1 hour one-way everyday by train
    – arrives to work early before company hours
    – sits in an open seating environment with co-workers and mangers all sitting together
    – attends the traditional company morning meeting, called Chorei (very Japanese)
    – receives Omiyage from co-workers who came back from trips
    – performs regular desk and PC work throughout the day (as you would expect)
    – attends planing meetings as required for her job throughout the day
    – takes a 1-hour lunch break with co-workers
    – respects company seniority and uses the appropriate language to address her superiors
    – leaves the office when she finishes her work. On this day, she finished her work on time when on other days she may have to stay behind…as you can see other people in the office still remained since they didn't finish their work yet.
    – meets up with the girls after work to have a dinner / drinks
    – All of the above is what you could expect to see in a day of a "Typical Japanese Office Worker" or "Salarywomen in Japan"
    Let me know in the COMMENTS if you DISAGREE.
    LIKE if you want to see more Day in the Life Japan videos.

  2. I've been saying for years that I wouldn't want to work in Japan, but this makes me reconsider. It's still long hours, but this work place seems quite nice and progressive. I hope more Japanese companies follow their footsteps.

  3. WHO THE FUCK DOES NOT CLEAN OFF AFTER THEMSELFS ? Only in murican movies I have seen that. Fuck that. Be more human. Why think that somebody else will pick up your garbage? Snob much?

  4. is that her phone when she wakes up? the beginning of the video said 0630 but on her phone at 0:19 her phone reads 1123

  5. She brushed her teeth after drinking orange juice because of the citric acid. If she wished to not have this degrading occur she should of swished water before brushing her teeth to rinse the citric acid then brush her teeth for fluoride build up or even easier brush before eating.

  6. I live in Brazil, and I have a umidifier on my desk and at home. Actually, the one in the office is very much alike the one shown here. Here is very hot and very dry, between fall, winter and spring. Summer is rainy.

  7. Did you know that there are also hard workers in Japan? It would be nice to show a Japanese worker working in a chicken slaughterhouse, hanging over 8,000 chickens a day and taking about 500 shits on his face. All this to have frozen chicken in the supermarket and take us home after our comfortable job. It's people like these who carry Japan on their backs. Really amazing people with the samurai spirit who don't give up even in the worst conditions

  8. After working at a jp company in Tokyo for a number of years, I can say this is great and very progressive jp company.

  9. いいところしかうつしてない
    実際はこんなゆとりもって働けている人なんているのか気になる

  10. i heard that there are regulations that forbid female workers to wear spectacles at work ,and also make up and high heels are mandatory in certain offices . I think that's a good idea.!

  11. Open offices are not great. Beyond studies showing general degradation of employee happiness, If you have autism it's the worse. Thankfully the President gave up his office for me, and I love working in an office. Close the door, have my own lighting, and an awesome view of the river.

  12. i dont think its not different from us in indonesia life worker
    its just the same
    i think its a few people like a workaholic not all of in japanese

  13. 俺はこんな糞共の贅沢生活のために薄給で長時間労働させられてんのか。まじで誰か革命起こさねえかなぁ。世の中クソだな

  14. There is so much to admire about the Japanese.
    Also notice how spotless the subway station is!
    Id love to transfer to Tokyo.
    Love from Munich!

  15. In my understanding the "typical" reffers to the office worker not the office, so relax guys. the title doesnt say day in a life of a office worker in a typical japanese office.

  16. 日本人の私でも初めてこんな会社知った。
    そんな余裕ないほど働く仕事が大半

    仕事は楽したら負けの勢いでやってるとこもあるからなんとも言えない

  17. It would probably be a little difficult but you should do one on the average day of a Japanese high school student

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