#33 Drunk Salaryman

The Japanese ‘salaryman’ may not be one of Japan’s most fashionable icons, but it’s certainly one of it’s most prevalent. You’ll see them everywhere in Japan, and they’re instantly recognizable by their grey/black suits and exhausted faces.

Salarymen have gone through many image changes over the last few decades, and I don’t mean suits and haircuts. Once considered the heroes of Japan during it’s economy boom, they’re now seen as working drones, and even often failures to their families for working so much.

Not that they freely choose to. Societal pressures have pushed these men hard. Most wake up early, have long commutes, work for hours and hours, do unpaid overtime, get home late and repeat. This is occasionally sprinkled with other duties such as ‘nomikai’ – literally meaning ‘drinking party’. As fun as it sounds, salarymen are obliged to drink with bosses and co-workers in the evenings in order to build up company relationships.

Their lives may sound a little hard compared to how hard most people work in the West, but they don’t have it really that bad. Nowadays, things are changing. They have more time at weekends to spend with their families and recently young people have been trying to break out of this mould. Women are entering the workforce for longer too, which also changes things (for the better).

In any case, I wanted to snap a picture of a salaryman because they’re an integral part of Japanese society… and they’re funny when they’re drunk. They’ll sleep anywhere and have no shame on trains to lean on the shoulders of complete strangers. Nice.



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