One person’s cultural observations can be another’s daily gripes but, with any luck, they can lead to an enlightening debate. That was the case last week when a blog post about one non-Japanese individual’s experience working in the country’s information technology sector proved popular with Japanese netizens, who found a lot they could relate to.
San Francisco-based software engineer Alejandro Wainzinger uploaded a blog post titled “Gaijin Engineer in Tokyo” to the site Medium on March 8. The lengthy piece focuses on Wainzinger’s experiences while working at a Tokyo company over the course of five years. It touches on many topics, from specific information that engineers should keep in mind (“UTF8 vs Shift JIS and EUC-JP” reads one subhead) to larger points about Japanese office culture. He writes about the long length of simple emails, power harassment and being a non-Japanese in a majority-Japanese workplace (“Never forget, you’re a foreigner. They won’t ever forget,” reads a foreboding early line).