Suicide due to Overwork

A lot of people know that Japan is in the top five countries with the highest suicide rates. Suicide is a sad thing, but it occurs daily in Japan. Whether the person is male or female, young or old, rich or poor, just a few of these suicides will ever be covered by the mass media. But on December 25, 2015, there was a suicide so unique that it ‘shook Japan’s earth.’ A suicide that was so sad that it stirred the hearts of the Japanese. This suicide victim was a young lady named Matsuri Takahashi. 

(As a side note: back in November 2018, I had promised you that I would write a blog about my research paper. I spent many months writing it. I passed my research paper, I have graduated, and I am already back in my home country. I will quote some parts of my research paper here. You can read my Research Paper here)

The first time I heard about her story, I was still in the Netherlands. I was already accepted by APU, and I was in the process of preparing myself for my departure to Japan. Her story had reached the other side of the world. It was translated and discussed on the internet, and I was intrigued by it. The topic, suicide, has always been of interest to me, and I always been fascinated by its concept. I always try to understand how someone can reach such a point in life to choose not to be amongst us anymore. 

As a Muslim, it is difficult to grasp the concept of suicide, as we believe that God has given us the most precious gift ever, which is to be, to exist, and to be alive. Therefore, making an end to one’s life, which was given to us, is tough to understand. When I read about Matsuri Takahashi’s story, I wondered if I shouldn’t look into the case and write my thesis on this. In the initial stage, my topic was to investigate the cultural differences between the Dutch and Japanese culture, but my curiosity was too big to leave this case uninvestigated. 

The story

“Matsuri Takahashi was born in 1991. She was born in Hiroshima Prefecture, but she grew up in Shizuoka Prefecture. Matsuri Takahashi entered Tokyo University (from here on referred to as Tōdai) as a scholarship student exempted from tuition fees. As reported by Tōdai Shimbun (May 16, 2017), the Tōdai newspaper, many students that join the Tokyo University come from wealthy families. Matsuri Takahashi, however, was not from a wealthy family. She was economically disadvantaged, but it did not stop her from trying to get into Tōdai. She was encouraged by her teachers from her high school (Midoraka High School in Shizuoka
Prefecture).

In April 2015, right after Matsuri Takahashi graduated from Tokyo University, she started her job at Dentsu Inc. As reported by Japan Today (October 24, 2016), when entering Dentsu Inc. as a new employee, they undergo training of, approximately six months. Here, Matsuri Takahashi quickly became one of the top trainees as she earned her respect within the company. However, after finishing the training, reality hit her hard. She became a regular employee, and the expectations of her superiors were high, the working days were long, and there was much stress on the work floor.

The cause of the stress was due to the understaffing of the Internet Advertising department, where she was a member of, Dentsu Inc. was embarrassed with some scandals at that time and, and as a result, they had to reorganise at the expense of their employees. For Matsuri Takashi, this meant much overwork. She clocked 105 hours of overwork (regular hours + 105 hours).

In order to deal with stress, she needed a platform to vent her anger and frustrations. This was Twitter. She would use Twitter to express her anger and frustrations about the company and the long overwork hours. Here she was detailed, honest, and vocal about the way the company would treat workers here. She expressed issues such as power harassment, bullying, overwork, and sexual harassment.

But on 25th of December, 2015, Yukimi Takahashi, the mother of Matsuri Takahashi, received an email from Matsuri Takahashi (Japan Today, 2016). In that email, Matsuri Takahashi wrote:

Work is unbearable. Life is unbearable. Thank you for everything.

Her mother read the email, and she understood its meaning. She immediately ran to the
phone and called Matsuri. Matsuri picked up the phone, and her mother told her that death was not the answer. The mother pleaded to her daughter to leave the company. Matsuri Takahashi replied: ‘Okay, mother.’ Unfortunately, this plea was not enough to dissuade her from killing herself” (Ennahachi, 2019). 

Matsuri Takahashi passed away at the age of 24

My research

Obviously, my research is quite lengthy (Edit: my research paper can be found here; The Death That Shook Japan’s Earth: A Case Study of Matsuri Takahashi(高橋まつり)) , so I will try to condense it for you. My research question was: “What would be the role of SNS in making Matsuri Takahashi’s case unique enough to lead to the first White Paper in 2016?” In other words, I was curious about how her case was unique and why. Because her death did not only stir the hearts of the Japanese, but it even affected politics.

In Japan, death due to overwork has a name. It is called Karōshi (過労死)But in my research, I found that this term was not very applicable to Matsuri’s case. Karōshi is a medical term used since the 80s when in the economic boom in Japan, a lot of salarymen in their 40s started to die at work. They had spent so much time at work without any rest they would die of heart attacks or a stroke. But this is called a ‘Sudden Death.’ In Matsuri’s case, she chose not to live anymore. This is something called Karōjisatsu (過労自殺), or suicide due to overwork. 

Image result for overwork japan funny

Disclosing information on Twitter

Matsuri Takahashi tweeted about her pain and suffering on a daily base. She would describe her issues about her superiors, the long working hours, and about her break-up with her boyfriend. It is not a common thing for a Japanese person to openly talk about the bad things about the company, but she did. In her tweets, she would describe the sexual harassments, the lack of sleep, spending all her time at work, and more. These tweets (in Japanese) can still be found online. The way she wrote the tweets was interesting. Unconsciously, she wrote it in a diary manner. When I went through every single tweet, Matsuri Takahashi gave an insight into her life. Sadly though, the tweets only became relevant after she died. If she did not die, her tweets would have, probably, meant nothing.

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“Isn’t it funny? I am finally going home” 4 AM Japan local time. (The time indicated here is Dutch local time)

But her death, her tweets, the way she wrote, and the content was the big factor that gave power to her story. Furthermore, if Matsuri Takahashi had written her pain in a physical diary, there would probably not received the same attention by the media and by the Japanese people. But because it is online, the Japanese people can read the tweets any time of the day, and even share it with others. The Japanese people were able to sympathise with her story and read her pain first hand.

There is a certain power in disclosing information about oneself. She disclosed her opinions, her pain, her life, her emotions, and it was all true because she would have never known that her tweets would be found by anyone except for her friends. She had no agenda, except for venting on a platform as a last resort.

Image result for 死にたいと思いながらこんなに
“I want to die is all I can think of and even if I overcome that what is there for me, end of the day?”

Gender

What if Matsuri Takahashi was a young male, and ‘he’ would have done all the things above, would ‘he’ receive the same traction by the people and the media?” I asked this question to myself, to my supervisor, and my peers, and we all came to the same conclusion: No, it would have never been picked up. There is something in Japan that I would call a ‘Samurai culture.’ It is expected of the men to die while carrying out their duty. Samurais would protect a town, and they would “live by the sword and die by the sword.” Japanese women could never be a Samurai, and therefore, they would never die on duty. But in our century, the Japanese women have to work too, and they have to carry the hardships of work with them too just like the men. When a woman dies on duty, it receives the attention of the media as this should not have happened.

In other words, being a young lady, committing suicide due to overwork, played a big role in the uniqueness of her case. I believe that her age played an important role too. If she would have been 50 years old, I do not believe it would receive the same attention either. She was merely 24, at the start of her life. Furthermore, she graduated from the most prestigious university in Japan: Tokyo University.

Because she was a young lady, the sexual harassment tweets were very troublesome to read. Women in Japan are quite marginalised on the work floor. Yes, I agree it is changing, but change by Japanese standards is very, very, very slow. Yes, Japanese women are working more, but it is nothing compared to the West. As a Japanese lady, you either go full into the work life, and never marry and have no children, or marry and have children, and stay at home. Matsuri Takahashi worked hard every day, but was not rewarded for her devotion, but rather scolded on why she wasn’t dressed ‘pretty.’ In my opinion, she was gorgeous, but these comments by her superiors were just power and sexual harassments.

Image result for 男性上司から女子力がないだのな んだのと言われる
“My boss told me I lack femininity and I thought it was a joke – But he seems to be pushing it too far. Unfortunately, I wish I could tell him that despite his skin bald head, he too lacks masculinity. This sucks and is very depressing.” 5 days before her suicide

How it affected me

Her case was unique due to all the factors mentioned above. Her suicide was very unfortunate and saddened me a lot. In one of her tweets, she would write that she would finally go home at 4 AM. When I read through all her tweets and learning more about the dark side of Japan, I decided that I wanted to start a life in Europe, and not in Japan.

It was my biggest dream to come to Japan and perhaps start a life there. Japan is an amazing and beautiful place. The people, the landscape, the culture, and the language, the food, and whatnot is incredible. It was a privilege to have studied there. But there is one huge factor that I would never be able to cope, which is their work life. 

You see, work in Japan is not a torture, it is an absolute hell. I am saying all of this from a Dutch perspective. In Holland, we have, I believe, the best work-life balance in the world. We work from eight to five or nine to six, and we work five days a week. We have, on average, 25 days of paid leaves (+ national holidays), and we can relax and enjoy our lives. 

Image result for overwork japan
Source: http://fortune.com/2017/02/24/japan-karoshi-death-by-overwork/

In Japan, however, it is a norm to work on a minimum of ten hours a day. Even if you have finished your work by six, you have to remain at the office until your manager leaves. But your manager awaits his manager to leave, so in the end, you will be spending four to six hours waiting for your boss. Leaving at six will be a huge insult to your colleagues and manager. If one does leave at six, the company will think you are not devoted enough. You will receive a huge backlash, such as bullying. 

I was living and studying in Beppu, which is in the Kyushu prefecture. Beppu is one and a half hours away from Tokyo, by plane. So, we were quite in the countryside. But even there I noticed that rush hour was at 10 PM. The train station was crowded with the Japanese people. People were finally going home. The sad thing is it was not just the working people who were finally going home, but also the children. Yes, the children too.

In Japan, the children will go to school from eight till three. But after school, they will go to the baseball club, tutoring school, piano class, or whatever. I noticed that children cannot be children as much they can be here in the West. Kids fall asleep in class, working people fall asleep during work, in the metro, train, and etc, because they lack time to relax. Their time is dictated by society. 

With my observations and my research into overwork culture in Japan, I decided that it would be better to come back home. Many of my friends from developing countries see Japan as a great opportunity to level up their lives, and I respect them a lot. Coming from countries such as Bangladesh or Indonesia, life in Japan is much better. I learned a lot from my stay in Japan, and I learned to appreciate the things I have in the West. But the work life in Japan is not for me. If I would ever become a multi-millionaire, I would love to live in Japan as Japan is still a fantastic country, which I would recommend anyone to visit at least once.

Source: https://dilbert.com/strip/1993-11-02

As always, thank you for reading! 

 

Masha’Allah

 

References

Ennahachi, Z. (2019). The Death That Shook Japan’s Earth: A Case Study of Matsuri Takahashi (高橋 まつり) (Master Graduate Research Paper). Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Beppu, Japan.

Japan Today. (2016, October 24). Dentsu’s ‘power harassment hell.’ Retrieved from
http://www.japantoday.com

Nippon.com. (2016, November 3). Japan’s First “Karōshi” White Paper. Retrieved from
http://www.nippon.com.

Todai Shimbun. (2017, May 16). Tokyo University on Matsuri Takahashi about death due
to overwork. Retrieved from http://www.todaishimbun.org.

Oi, Baka Gaijin!?

You are going to stay in the land of the rising sun for more than a year. The land of the samurai, geisha, kimono, karate, karaoke, and whatnot! You arrived in the Summer and it is bloody hot. Look! Vending machines everywhere! You run to the vending machine and toss ¥130 in the vending machine and you for the delicious cold tea. You take your bottle out of the machine and walk back. You open the bottle and you drink from it. The Japanese started eye balling you. You noticed it, but you are too thirsty. You wink at them: “Daijoubu, baka gaijin desu” (it is oke, I am an idiot foreigner).

You read the title of this blog post, you probably are thinking this has something to do with things to avoid in Japan so the Japanese do not look down on you. You are probably thinking this is one of those guidelines where small cultural differences are pointed out that you probably did not think of before coming to Japan. One of them is, for instance, putting your chopsticks vertical in your rice bowl. Chopsticks put vertically in a bowl is only done at a funeral and not in a restaurant. You know, there are hundreds of websites explaining these kinds of things. This blog post, however, will do the OPPOSITE. Things you could get away with as a BAKA GAIJIN (stupid foreigner).

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Ru-ru (Rules)

“Wow chotto a minute, Zack-san. Nani the fuck are you doing? Shouldn’t you tell your readers how to adapt to their culture?” Just bear with me for a moment. This blog post is NOT to aggravate the Japanese or to kick them on their leg. I am not saying that at all. I am going to explain how one can stay sane in Japan with the zillion rules they are having.

Japan is a conservative country where the individual matters less than the group. It is a collective society where everyone is a small cog in a bigger machine. In order to keep the machine running, the Japanese society has put many written and unwritten rules (norms) on their people. These rules and norms are taught to children and abided till the grave. Most of the rules correspond to what we know in the west as the 10 commandments. These commandments are universal, such as, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not lie, and etc. These rules apply in every country and it makes sense.

When you go deeper into a culture, you will find different types of norms that you are not used to. Here is when things become interesting. These norms are so common to the locals when an international person joins the community and unaware of the norms, the local people tend to forget that their norms are not common abroad. But as they have been living in their ‘box’ for so long, it feels like a natural thing. In the West, making noise when eating (munching) is considered disgusting and annoying, wherein other cultures they do not know about the concept and it is a common thing to them.

Adapting yourself to these weird norms is a plus and appreciated. I recommend people to try to adjust as much as possible to the local culture. If slurping noodles show your appreciation for the food to the one who cooked it, then just make the slurping noises, because the opposite means you do not like the food and it is considered an insult. On a superficial level, adapting to the norms that are visible is fine. Kind of a monkey see, monkey do type of adjustment.

Too many rules
Too many rules Source

But as the Japanese are all small cogs in a bigger machine, adjusting yourself to become a cog in their machine is near impossible. You are also a cog within your own society, but a cog with different teeth that moves differently from the Japanese society. The Japanese society is very tough and extremely demanding of an individual for the sake of the greater good.

You will ALWAYS hear the phrase ‘Ganbatte kudasai’. Loosely translated, it means to do your best. But the cultural implications are far severe than the weak English translation. It means:

“…to endure, to not give up, to be patient and long suffering, to continue a difficult or stressful task as long it may be necessary to succeed, to try one’s very best to accomplish something. It means simply to put up quietly and patiently with an uncomfortable or unpleasant situation (including an obnoxious co-worker, a mean boss, or a difficult customer) without complaining or becoming openly angry (so as not to cause embarrassment, create social disharmony, or disturb others’ feelings).” (Meek 1999).

The society pushes the Japanese beyond their limitations and beyond their capabilities. As an international in Japan, you are expected to work as hard as they do. This means working from 7 AM till 11 PM. Murimuri, dekinai (impossible, I cannot). As a Dutchman, I will tell you this. I will leave the office at 6 PM, I turn off my work phone, I will not check my email until the next morning. In the Netherlands we say: ‘If there is work today, there is work tomorrow’. Work is endless and it will never finish. We prefer to spend time with our friends and family, and we make a CLEAR border between our private life and work life.

Daijoubu Baka Gaijin Desu

That said, I will give you some examples of my baka gaijin moments. One of the things the Japanese have is patience. I consider myself quite a patient person, but the Japanese are masters of having patience. A red traffic light at 23:30, I am on foot, there are no cars, no bikes, no human being near, heck not even animals are at the intersection. I will jaywalk. I am not going to wait on nothing. Here in the south of Japan the traffic lights do not have a sensor (or anywhere else). The traffic lights are hard coded and they as they programmed to do. Japanese on the other hand, they will wait patiently until the red light turns green as it is taboo to cross on a red light. I refuse to waste my time on nothing, I will shamelessly cross the street.

Silence in the train
Silence in the train is one of the rules in Japan Source

I recently rented a car with my friends. Sometimes I would make a mistake in a turn as the GPS confused me. I would go into another street and turn there (when there are no cars). My friends told me to keep driving and turn later, nope I am a baka gaijin, daijoubu desu. It was not against the rules, there were no cars, I turn the car.

Drinking and eating while walking is a no-no in Japan….. Seriously?! Listen, I am 1.85m and 88kg. When I am hungry and in a hurry, I do not give two flying Fssss about this rule. I will grab something and eat while underway. While I am writing this it is mid-summer, 32 degrees outside with a humidity of 90%. I will look for a vending machine and buy myself a cool drink and drink it all while walking. It is ‘taboo’ but heck, I will play my  gaijin card for this one. It is toooooo darn hot in Japan!

Cannot say ‘no’ to things, I have to phrase it as ‘ano’, ‘chotto’, ‘eto ne’ ‘hmmm’. Nope, if I do not want X, I will give a direct and a clear no. Of course, my tone is not harsh in anyway, but I HATE the read-in-between-the-lines answers. The same goes for the opposite, if do want to do X, I well let you know with a straight answer yes!

There are so many rules in Japan, it makes living in such a society very difficult. ‘The nail that sticks out gets hammered down’ is a real proverb being used in Japan. Meaning, you need to stay conform to the society. The one thing that I cannot stand is the job hunting dress code. All the young people looking for a job are all in black suits with black shoes and a black suitcase. The ladies need to have their hair in a ponytail, not dyed, and more nonsense like that. You can read more about these dumb job hunting rules here.

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Source

The society looks down on those who are sticking out and the people are afraid of being excommunicated. Whenever you praise a Japanese person for something they are good at, let’s say a Japanese person who is very good at speaking English, you tell the person, ‘wow your English is very good!’ The Japanese person will not say ‘thank you (for the compliment)’ but rather ‘no, no, no I am bad at speaking English.’ Even though the person is clearly good at it, the Japanese person cannot accept the compliment as this shows that the person is boasting himself and thus sticking out. And sticking out means getting hammered down.

Rules but no consequences?

As the Japanese are afraid of breaking the rules, they will not dare to question them either. それがルールです (those are the rules). When asking why these rules are there and what are their purpose the answer will be: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

But during my stay in Japan, I have learned that there are rules and there are rules. Clear rules that have big consequences are there to protect people. Drinking and driving don’t go hand in hand, therefore, there is a rule that makes this forbidden. These rules I can of course support. You break this rule, you deserve to lose your driver’s license. Clear rule and clear consequences that are upheld by the arms of the law.

But there are also rules that are there just to keep people in line but they have no consequences…. The previous rule I mentioned is more on a national level, but when you go to an organizational level some rules are there but no one really upholds them. One of my professors from overseas showed me that he is not allowed to park his car in front of the university. But he does it anyway for years and the school does nothing. The rule is there, but no consequences.

please do it at the beach
Diving in the metro Source

Another weird thing is that at my school when we do our proctoring (keeping an eye on the undergraduates when they have their exams) we need to “prevent them from cheating” and not catching them with cheating. Before the exam even starts we have to put up a big screen that states that if they are caught cheating there will be SEVERE consequences for them such as losing their tuition reduction and even worse getting expelled. But when we do find them cheating and we would like to remove them from the exam room, the academic office will start attacking the proctors as we all need to have witnessed the cheating and take full responsibility that indeed this person cheated.

The university is terrified of expelling students for cheating as this probably will ruin their reputation or whatever. As there are no clear consequences for the students they keep cheating. Rules, but no consequences….

The Japanese do not expect the foreigners to fully understand everything in Japan and they will play their Nihonjinron card (vague way of describing the things that make the Japanese Japanese) as well. It is a win-win situation. Of course, I try to behave myself in their society and adapt myself as much as possible. But the Japanese society is very strict on the individual and for those who did not grow up in Japan, it is extremely hard to stay sane if you really want to adhere to every single rule. From time to time it is okay to play your Gaijin card. And when you really do not want to be bothered, you could play your ultimate gaijin card, just say:

Nihongo o tabemasen (日本語をたべません, I do not eat Japanese language)

As always thank you for reading my blogs. I appreciate your kind words and your ideas!

briana-aleman-baka-gaijin-doge8
In Japanese: baka gaijin Source

Masha’Allah

References:

Meek, C.M. (1999). Ganbatte: Understanding the Japanese Employee.

Kill Them With Kindness

You are on the streets, and an old Japanese lady is sitting on a bench, enjoying the weather down the road. As you are approaching, she looks at you with a smile and says, “Konnichiwa,” with a short nod. You smile back, and you reply with “Konnichiwa,” and you do a short nod. A few minutes later, you see some small children hop around, and as you pass them by, they look at you, and they all say “Konnichiwa,” and they all do a short nod. You smile back, and you reply with “Konnichiwa,” too, along with a short nod. The smile remains on your face the rest of your day thinking: “Thank god, I love Japan.”

One kind word will warm for three months of winter (一つの優しい言葉は、冬の三カ月を温める)” is a Japanese proverb often used to remind people that being kind to each other will keep the relationship strong and will help you through tough times. Keep everyone as your friend, and they might help you in the future when you need them the most. It also means that it only requires a single word to make a person happy. One word that will remain in the receiver’s heart. I, personally, love this. Being kind to people not because I would like something in return, but they will be kind back. You could maybe translate it to simply ‘Karma.’ This form of kindness in Japan can be felt everywhere and anytime. 

Of course, I can only share my experiences here in Beppu, as this is called the ”countryside” of Japan. Oita prefecture is located on the Kyushu island (all the way in the south), and far away from the big industrial areas. It might be the case that the people in the south are a bit kinder than individuals that live in the metropolitan area. Though I did meet Japanese people in the Netherlands, and I noticed their friendliness, and came from different cities. And my four-day visit to Tokyo was not sufficient enough to assess their level of kindness. Still, even then, I could notice the kindness of the people. 

Here in Beppu, the locals are quite kind to the international students. I have read some stories of people being harassed by, for example, a drunk person that would cuss and shout to the foreigner for being a foreigner. At moment of writing, I have been in Japan for six months. I have NEVER been discriminated against by the locals. The contrary, in fact: I have been showered with kindness, so to speak.

Wherever I go, there is always someone who would greet me. This has a quite positive effect on me. Over time I found myself doing the same thing. I would greet strangers on the street, and they will always greet me back. If not by words but at least by a short nod. Receiving and giving greetings from random people brightens your day. In my home, country barely anyone would greet you on the streets. Only if you knew each other, you would greet the person. Whether you are in a small town in the countryside or in a big city, no greetings. 

Unseen Kindness

One day I was travelling with a friend of mine from Oita back to Beppu by train. In the train compartment, there was something very peculiar that caught my eye. The train guard walked passed us and walked towards the door that led to the next train compartment. This door is a sliding door. Before the train conductor opened the door, he turned towards us, made a deep bow, and turned back to the sliding door. He opened the door, then walked through the door, turned again, made a deep bow (towards us), and then closed the door. Between the two train compartments, there are two doors. When he reached the second door, he did the same thing, bowing, opening, going through the door, closing the door, and bowing again. 

The reason why I found this so intriguing is that nobody in the entire compartment paid any attention to him but me. He could have walked through the door without bowing, and no one would have noticed. This leads me to the second level of kindness, which is respect. This form of bowing is an act of kindness and respect. The train guard respects us and greets his travellers even though no one paid any attention to it.

It is not just the act of greeting that makes the Japanese so unique. When you are in a store, you find yourself in a narrow space with another Japanese person deciding what to pick. When the person notices you, he will immediately back up and do a short bow, which indicates that you can pass him. The person will say “sumimasen,” meaning my apologies (for standing in your way). Where I am from, you will need to ask the person to let you pass, and this person pretends he didn’t see you. Probably thinking: “You can walk around.” The Japanese are harmonious people, and it can be felt everywhere. They will always put themselves on the second spot. The other person still always be favoured before themselves. 

Kill Them With Kindness

The reason why the title of this post is called “Kill them with Kindness” is because I noticed something intriguing regarding the behaviour of my fellow international students. At APU, we have people from all over the globe. All with different views on the world, life, philosophy, and whatnot. But yet the kindness of the Japanese has a contagious effect. Everyone that I know has adopted the Japanese cultural behaviour and made it their own. We greet, bow, thank, nod, apologise, smile to strangers in some specific situations we probably would have never done in our home countries. 

Kanji reads ‘Wa’ which means harmony

Imagine yourself in your home country’s capital, and you have forgotten your laptop on a bench in the metro station. Would your laptop still be there one hour from now? The answer would most likely be “No.” In Japan, you do not need to worry. Your laptop will still be at its location and, yes, even in a big city. The Japanese will not steal your laptop. As such, the kindness and respect of the Japanese changed the international students too. When an international student finds an iPhone 7 lying somewhere, the student will take photos of the mobile phone and post it on the “Lost and Found” Facebook page to return the phone to its rightful owner. I would see the most expensive item posted on the Facebook group by international students to return the items to their owners. The students could just take the expensive items and make it their own, but instead, the Japanese’s kindness makes them honest and caring too. “Don’t do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you” ~Confucius. If you one day lose your item, you would be grateful to the person who brings it back. 

I could keep writing about all the details of the Japanese’s kindness, but then I would be writing a book instead of a blog :P. Japanese culture is truly a unique culture where people care for each other and are kind to each other. It feels like being a part of a big family, even as an international student.

Competitive culture

Are the Japanese 24/7 kind to every single person all the time“. No, of course not. Let’s be realistic. They are just like you and me also mere human beings made out of flesh and blood. The Japanese also feel frustration, hunger, tiredness, and stress. You could meet someone who had a bad day and would ventilate all his anger on you just because you were there at the wrong place at the wrong time. Furthermore, I know that the Japanese are very competitive,. When it comes to work and money, they can become as vicious as any other salesman worldwide.

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This blog post is based on my experiences as an APU student in Japan. I am aware of the many stories about working in Japan, and it is hardships. Whatever country you visit, there will always be some people that would give you a hard time. However, the ones that do give you their love and kindness will outweigh the bad ones by large. Just remember to return your love and kindness to them. Personally, I think that Japan is not only called ‘The Land of The Rising Sun’ because of its geographical location but because the Japanese are the ones who will brighten your day.

 

Masha’Allah