Japanese dream of long year-end holiday but will settle for five days, and some sleep

by

Staff Writer

A long, leisurely sojourn at a tropical beach resort, listening to the waves and counting seagulls … is only a pipe dream for most workers in Japan as the New Year’s holiday period draws near.

A recent survey by market research firm Macromill Inc. shows that many Japanese can afford only a five-day holiday over New Year’s, though they wish they could take seven days off. And they will mostly likely stay at home, catching up on their sleep.

Of the 3,341 people with jobs who responded to the online survey, 28.9 percent replied that they wanted to take seven days off, followed by 23.9 percent who said they longed for 10 days away from work and 11.6 percent who hoped for a five-day holiday.

On the other hand, the actual number of days off the workers said they would get during New Year’s was five on average.

Those five days are still more than the average of 3.9 days that people said they would get as a summer holiday in a separate survey conducted by the firm in July.

By industry, teachers and other education workers were down for the longest time off, saying they planned to take an average of 7.1 days away from the job. They were followed by 5.7 days among workers in the construction sector, 5.6 days in the manufacturing sector and 5.2 days among public servants.

On the other end of the spectrum, hospitality workers — people employed at hotels, inns and restaurants — planned to take the least time off: an average of 2.1 days. Workers in the health care and welfare sector, as well as those in the transportation and postal service sector, could only afford 3.2 days.

The firm also asked 7,500 people between the ages of 20 and 69 what they planned to do during the holiday season. Eighty-seven percent said they planned to chill out at home, while 58 percent said they would catch up on their sleep. Only 5 percent said they planned to take a trip overseas.

New Year’s holidays are the longest that many workers get in Japan, where the idea of taking a vacation lasting longer than a week is often shunned by the workers themselves, although they are legally entitled to do so.

According to a survey in September by travel services site Expedia Inc. covering 9,424 people in 28 countries, Japan ranked worst in the ratio of paid holidays taken, with respondents saying they used only half of the 20 paid days they were entitled to on average. In Brazil, France and Spain, 100 percent of the workers used up all 30 paid holidays they are entitled to.

U.S. workers used 12 days, or 80 percent, of their 15 days, while South Korea workers, entitled to an average of 15 paid days off, used eight, or 53 percent.