Culture Note: Salaryman

In Japan, it’s not uncommon to see many people that seemed permanently glued to their suits and ties, always on the go, and never catching a break. These guys are the Salarymen (サラリーマン – sarariman – which literally means “salaried man”), or the white-collar business men who work for large corporations. These guys usually get jobs right out of college at these mega-corporations and stay at them until they retire, since if they change companies, they have to essentially start over from the bottom of the corporate ladder.

train station

Salarymen, like most people, usually get around by train.

Life for a salaryman can be really tough. Overtime is required and is so prevalent that in addition to the regular early evening rush hour around 4-5 PM, there is a second mini-rush hour from 10-11 PM that’s made up almost entirely of salarymen getting off work from overtime and heading for a necessary drink with their workmates. And during their time on the job, they have to deal with an intense, bureaucratic work environment.

Most salarymen stick with the tough through for many years and make their way up the corporate ladder, while others quit or are laid off due to difficult economic times. Though an interesting trend that has been developing recently is the otariiman (オタリーマン) or the otaku salaryman, which are normal salaryman by day, and avid anime/manga fans by night.

anime salaryman

The main character of the anime REC, Matsumaru, who is a salaryman for a small candy company


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