Salaryman, the drone culture of Japan

Salaryman, the drone culture of Japan

We discover the lifestyle of the Salaryman!

We have seen them on anime and in Japanese movies, we have heard about them, but we often wonder just what a salaryman is. Some say they are the typical white-collar worker, at the bottom of the corporate ladder. As stereotyping goes, in anime and manga. Salarymen are easily recognizable, they are dressed in charcoal gray or funeral black suits, with neckties, carry a briefcase, wear glasses and either have a receding hairline or are bald. Add a bottle of sake and a necktie as a headband and you get the ‘drunk salary man’ stereotype. Some examples are Ichigo’s father in Tokyo Mew Mew, who is a salaryman and in the anime Karin, the first time Karin Maaka use her powers as a vampire it is on a salaryman.

In actual fact salaryman (or salary man), is a term for male office workers in Japan who tend to lead a particular lifestyle. It is a subculture that most Japanese look at with a mix of respect, admiration as well as pity. But if these men should be pitied is another question, because, for most of them, they are living their dream. They believe in their motto ‘work hard, play hard’ with passion. Let is look at why.

To a salaryman having a career is important. They are workaholics that are known for being responsible for building many of the world’s largest companies. When they do relax, they visit hostesses or geisha; drink at the Izakaya, a type of Japanese pub, often 2 to 3 times a week, where they do network while relaxing; they read manga (There actually are manga targeted just at them like manga about golf or historical drama), they eat out a lot and they go to Onsen. Those are some of the fun stuff they do.

Their sense of family is also very important to them, as they are usually married and have children. They are however rarely home and have few domestic responsibilities, believing that their responsibilities are more financially based. They are good fathers and also make sure to show up for important ceremonies and holidays because they are also very culture driven.

Because of all the excessive working, hostess clubbing and drinking, salary men are prone to sleep deprivation and will take every opportunity to get in a power nap. They sleep on the train while commuting back from and to work and some even power nap at work, which is called Inemuri.

In Japan, there is a greeting called ‘Otsukaresama Deshita’ and it is perfect for salarymen. It is a greeting that one use to tell people that you have just finished work, or to use after a long speech, a stage performance etc. The word means a lot of things so let’s break down what it means. ‘O’ at the beginning is used when one speak in a respective manner toward someone, ‘tsukare’ means ‘to get tired’, ‘sama’ is the suffix used to address someone in a respective manner and the word ‘deshita’ is the past tense of ‘Desu’. So the greeting Otsukaresama Deshita means ‘Ah! You worked so hard today, and you are tired. Thanks for all the hard work,’
Salary Men are an important part of Japanese culture. They may look as if they lead a sad life, but there are many who love their work hard, play hard lifestyle and will not give it up for anything. Who knows what they are dreaming about when you find them asleep in a train going off to work or maybe on their way for a drink with the co-workers? We now have a better understanding and can respect them for their way of life, that they are living THE dream, their unique way.

Want to know more about Inemuri or sleeping at work? Then please follow our link:

We have a fun video explaining more about Otsukaresama, to learn more please follow our link:

We have a special treat for you, a short movie inspired by Salary Men. The movie, ‘Salaryman’ was filmed and edited by Andrew Franks and stars Edwon. It was shot in Kyoto, Japan on March 2nd in 2014. To watch this comedy short movie, please follow our link: