Do Japanese Companies Crush Your Soul? Let’s Explore the Limitations of Japan through Anime
One thing I try to do with these posts is give a framework for understanding Japan better, and one place to start is with the Japanese concept of 型 kata. The word can be translated as “mold” (to shape things with), “model” (as in the model number on the back of a product), “type” (for classification, also being used for blood type), “pattern” (as for sewing clothes), the customary poses taken in martial arts, or (in this case) pre-defined social forms and customs that are often so important in daily life, yet which are often invisible to us. Like when you suddenly find yourself at a funeral yet somehow know how to compose yourself, thanks to society having established social forms for what to do in these situations.
The idea of kata is big in the business world, too, as my son learned when he started his shuushoku katsudou or formal activities related to finding employment as his college graduation was nearing. You can catch a glimpse of what Japanese interviews are like in Shirobako, Sakura Quest, ReLIFE, New Game!! and Genshiken, though of course anime always shows us a stylized and/or moe-ified version of things. In preparation for his interviews, he had to learn how to wear a specific kind of business suit called a “recruit suits” perfectly, and train himself to hide every aspect of his personality, knocking on the door a certain way before entering the interview room and avoiding any reply that would make you stand out from the other candidates.
Which is funny, because every company he talked to said they were seeking energetic young people who could show innovation and creativity and think outside the box that could compete with Google and Amazon, even as they required the applicants to conform to everyone else, literally squeezing every aspect of their lives through little boxes on a form (the standardized form where applicants record everything about their past work and education history). The inability to see that an overly tight recruiting process is making that impossible is one of the limitations of Japan today.
In the end, my son opted to stay in school and get a Master’s degree in Engineering until he decides the direction he wants to take. I’m personally hoping he joins a gaishi-kei (foreign) company, which are all by their nature more flexible and “fun.”
One sad thing about life is that all good things much come to an end. Every year as supper approaches, we’re forced to remove all chocolate from the website to keep it from turning into so much Meltykiss, and we’ll be removing all Japanese Kit Kat, Pocky and other wonderful chocolates within two weeks. To thank everyone, we thought we’d have a final Sayonara Chocolate Sale with 5x points for all purchases. Browse and buy now!