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).
It’s a welcome addition to a genre of English-language writing that offers a foreign perspective on the typical Japanese workplace. Putting aside the surplus of blog posts and YouTube uploads devoted to English teaching (even the sneaker fetishists at Hypebeast have gotten in on that action), the past decade has seen a fair amount of non-Japanese offer up views on life in the anime industry (explored again this week), video game market and as a general office worker, among others. YouTubers create clips about working in film and as a salaryperson (with a humorous twist).