How to Work for a Japanese Boss

How to Work for a Japanese Boss coverHow to Work for a Japanese Boss

This is less a book about how to work for a Japanese boss than it is a book about the business culture of Japan…twenty-two years ago. This book made sense for the suburban Detroit-area public library in which it was found, since Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Suzuki, Subaru, and Yamaha are all Japanese auto companies that do (did?) business around here. Many of those companies still do business around Detroit. Is that a reason to keep it? NO! It’s a reason to weed it! A lot of people around here work for Japanese companies and/or take business trips to Japan. They have every reason to want to know respectful Japanese business practices. Let’s not steer them wrong. I especially loved the chapter on sex (of course), and have included several pages below.

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How to Work for a Japanese Boss back cover

Sex and the Japanese Salaryman

The American point of view

Two souls are better than one

Sex in Japan today

Sex in Japan today

Dress and Undress in Japan

How Japanese women cope with sex

How Japanese women cope with sex




  1. The F in WTF was the significant part of what we read. Holy cow, what was the rest of the book about and how long was it, if this much was given to Japanese attitudes about sex? Though manga is loaded with sexual fantasy, some of it is not, so don’t go clearing the shelves of it after reading this….

    1. I know, some of it was probably accurate but it seemed pretty sensationalist. Things like host clubs and love hotels (though I’ve heard those are used for regular couples too sometimes because living situations can be so cramped) still exist but things like manga = porn makes me raise an eyebrow. Though I have heard the pill is hard to get still in Japan due to stigma.

      1. As a Japanese history nut, I can testify that the history part was super inaccurate. There were not old, diseased prostitutes in Yoshiwara doing jobs on the street. It would have taken away from the glamour and glitter of the place. And the prostitutes were not so beloved and protected because they had a monument put up for them after that earthquake; in fact, the reason why so many of them died in that earthquake was that they were locked into their houses and had no chance to escape. (Cecilia Segawa Seigle’s written a great history of Yoshiwara in English, for anyone who’s interested.)

        But then this author went on to write romance/erotic novels that are hilariously bad. I first ran across her one day when I was looking for amusing romance summaries, and she provided. Her book “Blonde Geisha” is about a blonde Irish-American girl, who becomes a geisha, in 19th century Japan. As people do.

  2. Manga and anime is nothing more than an excuse to pass of child pornography as “art”. Japan is the only OECD country where it is not illegal to own child pornography.

    1. Indeed, just as all Americans are obese hamburger munching cowboys who invade other countries for oil. Blatant generalizations are easy, but aren’t helpful at all to understand a foreign culture. The stuff you mention does exist, but the vast majority of manga is non-pornographic. Actual child pornography is illegal in Japan.

    2. Manga is just the Japanese word for ‘comics’. And ‘anime’ is the Japanese (borrowed) word for ‘animation.’ Those are huge categories, and have nothing to do with the legal situation.

  3. I worked in an office in Japan for three and a half years. It was much the same as working in a Western office. The only major difference as far as I could tell was a stricter dress code, which was rather old-fashioned by my standards. I did once make a mistake, where I thought the Office Manager had said she was going to think about something, when what she had actually said was “no”, but that was about the only time I really felt a big culture gap. (It’s rude to say “no” in Japan, so people say “maybe” when they mean “no”. My mistake – I never made it again!) This book comes across suspiciously like some kind of Orientalism-style fantasy. I think my “maybe” means “no” anecdode is far more the sort of thing a Western business person really needs to know.

  4. I missed this doozy the first time round: “A Japanese man often has a wife, a girlfriend, and a mistress.” What rubbish!

  5. “Manga and anime is nothing more than an excuse to pass of child pornography as “art”.”

    Oh man, that is so inaccurate it isn’t even funny.

  6. Wow.
    This is all kinds of awful and offensive, I don’t even know where to begin. So, does everything in this book get this amount of up-close detail? The author seems a bit too enthusiastic about the “manga” fantasies–and for the whole racist, Asian-women-as-sex-objects fantasy–for my taste.

    Yuck to all of this.

  7. I wish I’d seen this yesterday. I once worked for a large and important Japanese high-tech company (in Texas). They developed a software tool for programmers and called it ProbaScope. When presented every Texan burst out laughing. I tried to privately explain to the manager across a partial language barrier that it would not do, but not why because, really! I ended up writing it on the board and putting a circle and slash over it.

  8. For those of you who say that this book sounds offensive and racist, I highly suggest you read _Tokyo Vice_ by Jake Adelstein (non-fiction). The details seem to be a pretty accurate description of the less savoury aspects of 1980s Japan. Anyway, the whole point of this book is to give North Americans an idea of how different the culture in Japan is from what they are used to. Assumptions about what is and what is not acceptable in different contexts can be a major source of culture shock. I can see how a book like this would have been useful for covering issues that cultural taboos would have made difficult to discuss in person.

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