The utopia of utopias is “Utopia” by Sir Thomas More (1478-1535). Its best feature is leisure. There are no idle nobles; everyone works. A burden shared is a burden lightened. Utopians “do not wear themselves out with perpetual toil from morning to night, as if they were beasts of burden.” They work their daily six hours, then go on to more important things — not “luxury and idleness” (which are forbidden) but the pursuit of culture.

Five hundred years later, there are no utopias. Japan certainly is not one. Japan works itself to death, to depression. Karōshi (death from overwork) is a Japanese contribution to the global language, increasingly understood worldwide. Utsubyō (depression) isn’t, but is a recurring theme within the country. Much of it is work-related.

Unable to view this article?

This could be due to a conflict with your ad-blocking or security software.

Please add japantimes.co.jp and piano.io to your list of allowed sites.

If this does not resolve the issue or you are unable to add the domains to your allowlist, please see out this support page.

We humbly apologize for the inconvenience.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.