students during job search in japan

Life of Salary Workers

Life of Salary Workers

Job Hunting

If you go to a four-year university, students start job hunting at the end of their third year. Big companies make agreement when they start accepting the applicants not to disturb the study of the students, which is also efficient for the companies. Students send CV to the companies, some students send it to more than 100 companies. Then they need to pass the paper test followed by the interview. Then the companies give informal decisions to the students. Some students get several informal decisions before making the final decision.

Big companies tend to hire the staffs from the highly ranked universities, which motivates high school students to enter good universities.

Entrance Ceremony

Most of the company have entrance ceremony on April 1st because  the school year ends in March and they join the companies all at once on the same day. Big companies rent big halls just for the ceremony. Presidents and executives give speech to welcome the new members. It is very unique to Japan.

The fiscal year of the government and many companies also start in April. April is the starting season of many things.

Training for the New Employees

From the following day of the entrance ceremony, they start the training. Big companies tend to have long courses, a few weeks to a few months, while small companies have just one or two days separated from the office. Small companies emphasize on-the-job training.

The first thing they learn is a business manner such as how to bow. Though Japanese people know the bowing culture, they have to learn proper ways. The angle of bowing differs by the situation. They also learn how to exchange business cards, how to speak on the phone, where to sit in the taxi when they are with their boss or customers, and so on. Everything has a rule. The companies give these fundamental training believing the new employees stay in the company for lifetime.

Pay Day

Pay day is normally 25th of each month. Japanese pubs called Izakaya have full of customers on the night of the pay day. The company transfer the money to employee’s account after deducting tax, health insurance, pension and unemployment insurance.


Most of the companies give bonus to the employees twice a year, in June and December. Bonus system started to distribute the surplus, but now, it has become an annual event no matter the company’s profit is. The workers receive 2 to 3 times more than a salary each time. Workers often get a loan which askes you to pay more on the bonus month. If you have a chance to visit your friends in Japan, I recommend right after the bonus time.

Year End and New Year Party

Workers often go out to drink after work with their colleagues or boss in everyday life. These are informal situation. But year end and New Year party are official events of the company and you must attend them which is like a part of the job even though they don’t get paid during the party.

Company Trip

Company trip used to be very popular. They normally choose ryokan (Japanese style hotel) with hot spring and have a big party in a Japanese style large dining hall. After the party, they go to hot spring together. Entering hot spring nakedly makes the mental distance among the workers closer. We have a saying “Hadaka no Tsukiai (naked relationship)” which means close relationship.

Company Sports Event

Sports event used to be popular, too. It made the relationship among workers closer and stronger. But not many companies hold it anymore.

Job Rotation

Japanese companies tend to cultivate generalists rather than specialists. By this idea, most of the employees experience many different divisions of the company to learn variety works in the company. Workers


The company used to have seniority system and no matter what the result is, the workers got promoted if they stay in the company for a long time. But now, you need to make good result to be promoted. On the other hand, many young employees don’t prefer to get promoted. They emphasize more on their private life. Japanese people are no longer workaholic.


Retirement age used to be 60 because the government started to give pension when they become 60. When they retire, workers get retirement bonus from the company. If you stay in the same company for the lifetime, the amount can be over ten million yen.

Now the government has raised the age to give pension to the age of 65. Many companies accordingly started to have re-employment system. Workers leave the company once they become 60, but they are re-hired for another 5 years. The salary will be less and you will lose the high position though.

Recommended Articles