Hi everyone! It’s Pentleman (@pentleman_blog) here!
People who were born in 1947~1969, baby boomer generation tend to work long.
Only 20 years ago, their working hour used to be from 7am to midnight.
That’s weird, actually.
– People who are exhausted to work overtime everyday
– People who are interested in a side story of high economic growth in Japan
I hope this essay can reconsider your working style.
Let’s find it through this short essay!
Calmness in a buzz
“閑さや 岩にしみ入る 蝉の声”
(Sizukasa ya Iwa ni simiiru Semi no koe)
What a calmness, the sound of cicadas soaks into crags.
This most famous Haiku poem about cicadas (セミ, Semi) was composed by Basho at Risshaku-ji temple in Yamagata.
In July, during the start of summer, you can hear the chorus of cicadas singing altogether.
The wave gradually moves from the southern part of Japan, Okinawa, to the northern part, Hokkaido.
The summer’s symbolic phenomenon starts all at once in a loud buzzing sound.
And the temple began to be filled with the noise of cicadas.
However, Basho felt the sense of calmness as the natural sound seeped into his heart, standing in the forest.
What he expressed in the Haiku poem was the different tranquility from the real scenario.
His consciousness was about his life journey with nature and beyond to the universe.
The state of mind was similar to that of yoga.
Cicadas and Japanese workers
The world fairy tale : The Ant and the Grasshopper, was originally “The Ant and the Cicada”.
The reason for switching from cicada to grasshopper was unfamiliarity of cicadas in northern Europe over Alps.
Once becoming adults, the life of cicadas would end in a couple of weeks.
Only the male cicadas can sing to attract the females and in order to pass the baton of life, before things getting upside down.
All male cicadas dedicate their life buzzing all day and all together with all their might.
The attitude is like that of baby boomer Japanese workers who were eager to rebuild Japan and its economy after the WWII.
Corporate Warriors, 企業戦士(kigyo-senshi) or モーレツ社員 (moretsu-shain).
These were how the super hard working men from 1968 were recognized for.
A meeting that starts from 1am.
A song of parody in a warship march for their own company every morning.
These were the usual thing for the period.
I don’t understand what they were doing actually.
Thanks to the promotion of work style reform since 2019, which was championed by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, company warriors are lesser in the work force.
These company warriors were born between 1947~1969, and includes the baby boomer generation and Gen Xers as well.
The environment during that time seemed perfect as corporations highly valued lifetime employment which secured their employees’ family lifestyle.
In other words, women needed not to work, but could focus on taking care of their families.
They worked so hard to the point that they even lost their health and lacked time for hobbies and quality time with their families.
These are how they were rewarded for their hard work. Their homes simply served as a sleeping place everyday after 4 long hours of commute time.
A Father who was hard-driving worker
This is a story when I was a university student and working for a private tutor.
After completing the tasks on my fully booked time slot table until 6pm, I was rushing into getting a train to go to the house to see a student.
The student’s mother told this to me with irony,
“It looks super nice. Young women these days are very well taken cared of by their husbands.
My husband didn’t walk with me holding our children. He felt ashamed of doing what mother should be doing”.
I realized this way of thinking for the first time, because my father never had such thought.
It seems a tough to shop and hold one year old child with one hand, who probably weighs 10 kg for hours. But this was common.
In the age of company warriors, men relied on women’s full commitment to houseworks.
That is one of the successful reason of hard-driving workers.
Lucky Shell and Survivorship Bias
It is said that company warriors are getting fewer now.
If your boss is like an all-night actor, getting back from your office isn’t an easy job.
They expect you to work hard and longer working hours, and their assumption is working overtime is justifiable!
In the case that your boss is sitting behind you, the office becomes like a panopticon.
Wait… please remember a questionnaire which is often asked in hospitals.
Q: What do you regret in your life?
A: I should have spent my time with my wife and children more.
Keep in mind, this is one of the most common answers in the world.
Very few people say, I should have worked more, actually.
In Japan, (elderly) people believe that cicada’s shell is symbol of luck.
The shell means successful emergence avoiding enemy’s attacks to become adult with wings of freedom.
I wonder if the current working generation which belongs to a boss of company warriors can emerge leaving fine shells.
“My success and promotions are thanks to hard-long-driving working style!”
Not to forget, a success story always includes “survivorship bias”.
Pentleman’s photo travel
@Nomizo Falls, Kimitsu, Chiba in July