Category Archives: JOBS

The RetireJapan Hierarchy of Work Complaints


Of course 🙂

As I mentioned on Monday, I’m a planner. I spend far too much time thinking about what I need to do, what I should do, and what I want to do.

I wrote about the four types of work (which one do you do?) and my hierarchy of work situations last year. Now, I bring to you…

The RetireJapan Hierarchy of Work Complaints!

Basically the better your job/work, the more trivial your complaints become.

  1. If your job is dangerous or unpleasant, you complain about that.
  2. If you don’t make enough money to get by, you complain about that.
  3. If your job is stressful or you work long hours, you complain about that.
  4. If you have poor relationships at work, you complain about that
  5. If your job is routine or boring, you complain about that.
  6. If you feel unfulfilled at work, you complain about that.

I’m make level six complaints about my work all the time. Perhaps it’s a sign that I have a good thing going and should just get on with enjoying life…

What do you complain about at work? Do you think the hierarchy of work complaints works? Would you make any changes?

…continue reading


Battling Ingrained Sexism in The Japanese Workplace

It was 10 p.m. and my boss and I had just walked out of our last meeting for the day. I was lightheaded with hunger, tired and fantasizing about the moment I could take off my high heels. As we walked to the closest station together, out of the blue he turned to me and asked: “So, do you make dinner for your husband every night?”

My eyes narrowed and my neocortex went on red alert. What I really wanted to say was: “How could I possibly do that? It’s 10 p.m. and I’m here. With you. Working. For the third time this week — and it’s only Thursday!” Instead, I scrounged around for a comment biting enough to (hopefully) make him think and said: “My partner works for a gaishikei (foreign company). He leaves work on time and cooks for me.’

Ingrained Sexism at the Office

Deeply entrenched beliefs and assumptions like this flourish in Japan’s traditionally-minded office culture. This goes for office environments across the country, where due to the cultural focus on wa (harmony) and gaman (basically, “grin and bear it”), many women go along with uncomfortable situations and remain silent, since fighting back would paradoxically make them “a troublemaker.”

Most instances of outlandish behavior come from older managerial types, such as those who summon their female coworkers by calling out, “Ne! (Hey!)” or who refuse to see women as anything other than “OL” (office ladies) who take care of the workspace and perform menial tasks. Although the younger generation is not usually so blatantly sexist, it’s easy for men in the Japanese workplace to remain blissfully unaware of how the nature of their comments can affect us.

A few years ago during an important meeting with a client, my boss decided to introduce me as kono onee-chan (“this girl,” also …continue reading


How to Ask for Time Off in Japanese

Source: Gaijin Pot
How to Ask for Time Off in Japanese

With Golden Week – when four national holidays occur within a seven-day period – just around the corner, workers in Japan are looking forward to taking a much needed break. Unfortunately, Golden Week has fallen on some awkward days again this year with many workers not having Monday May 1st and Tuesday May 2nd off, leaving them with only Wednesday to Sunday (3rd to 7th) to take holidays in.

50 Shades of Time Off

Many workers will of course want to take the Monday and Tuesday off. When you need to take some time off work, you will first need to know what type of time off you need. Japanese has a surprising number of different words for different types of time off, including:

  • 年休( nen kyuu) (Annual leave – you’ll hear this a lot if you’re working as an ALT or language teacher)
  • 有休( yuu kyuu) (A holiday with pay – the standard way to refer to paid leave)
  • 振替休日( furikae kyuujitsu) (A holiday given to compensate for working outside one’s hours, also 代休( daikyuu) is used )
  • 病休( biyoukyuu) (Sick leave)

Begin politely

When you want to get time off work, you will need to use your polite Japanese.

First of all, you will need to find a polite way to start your request. Luckily Japanese has a huge number of these. Two very useful ones are ちょっとすみません (Excuse me) and ちょっとお聞( ki)きしたいんですが (I would like to ask something).

One of the easiest ways to ask for time off is to use the verb いただく which is a very polite verb for receiving things from the listener. A typical sentence using this verb is 今度( kondo)の金曜日( kinyobi)にお休( yasu)みをいただきたいんですが (I would like to ask for a holiday on the coming Friday) wherein you are literally asking to ‘receive’ a holiday from your boss!

There are two things to spot in …continue reading


iDeCo Application Success


It was a long time coming

My iDeCo application took a long time. I didn’t help matters by writing the wrong numbers on the application form (which meant an extra three weeks back and forth with Rakuten Securities) but my account is now finally up and running.

My March payslip shows two monthly payments have been taken out, and logging in to Rakuten I saw the following screen:

It took around three months all told. I suspect the wait time will come down in the future, as the system becomes more efficient and the initial spike in numbers comes down (after all, once you have an account, that’s it, unless you change providers).

Happy at this development, I then tried to log in and set up my account.

No dice. The screen did not show the expected functions. I guess the account had not actually been activated at the point I saw the message (but before they had sent me an email notification). Another opportunity to practice patience 😉

​But then about twenty minutes later I got this screen:

Plugging in the password and account number I received earlier in the week from JIS&T (Japan Investor Solution and Technology -the company that got the contract to administer iDeCo) took me to this screen.

Or rather it would have, if I hadn’t thrown away the account number assuming that Rakuten would do that automatically for me. Unfortunately I had, so I had to call them and ask them for the number.

This was relatively straightforward but still required several phone calls and for me to dig out my nenkin number.

And then I finally got into my account.

Rakuten gives you a choice …continue reading


Success of the Master Plan


Might not matter?

I’m definitely a planner. I love making plans and tracking progress. You wouldn’t believe the spreadsheets in my ‘planning’ file 😉

I tend to have several plans on the go at one time -plan A, plan B, plan C, etc.

A couple of key events took this natural tendency of mine and supercharged it: losing my job suddenly in 2008 and the big earthquake in 2011.

The thing is, my plans never seem to work out exactly as I envisioned them. Reality interferes, and the plans adjust to match it, and the end result goes off in a slightly or completely different direction.

The best example is probably my career. I started off wanting to be a vet, but found I have no talent in science and maths. Then I was going to be a spy, and got as far as having interviews with SIS (formerly known as MI6). Then I came to Japan ‘for a couple of years’ and started teaching.

My mum was a teacher, and I would never have imagined I would end up doing the same thing.

Personal finance came out of the blue too. I got interested in travel hacking, and one day realized it might be easier just to make money to buy flights with rather than jump through hoops to get them for ‘free’ with miles.

I never had any kind of financial role model and no one in my family is interested in investing or personal finance.

​Even five years ago, I could not have imagined my current life.

So I guess my point is that it’s good to have a plan. Plans help us move forward and grow. Plans show us changes we need to make and encourage us to see the progress we’ve made.

But the …continue reading