Japan: It’s Not Funny Anymore | Tim Rogers

Of course, it’s all a front. You might have heard that the Japanese work insanely hard, or that some people die from overwork. That’s a joke. They don’t. You know how they die? The same way that kid in Korea died while playing Counter-Strike: The very act of sitting and staring at a computer screen becomes something of an addiction in and of itself; they simply forget to use the toilet, or maybe have an aneurysm. In short, if you’ve ever worked at an office anywhere in the world, you’ve done about the same degree of actual work that Japanese people do in Japanese companies. You just might have not had the same semantic prison constructed around you by all the people subliminally intoning “You are tired!” to you every thirty fucking seconds.

What I’ve realized, recently, is that the skeleton of rules of the “game” of “life” is just too visible here in Japan, where multiple perfunctory sentences are required to start any conversation, where you can use a certain positive verb to soften the preconceived impact of a negative verb form, where you can prove mathematically that you are a good person by drinking alongside everyone else, by being the last to go home every day, by ritualistically screaming in the middle of the street after a company party. Oh no! You messed up today! The company lost money. BONUS ROUND: At least you get the opportunity to apologize to the boss. People who can apologize well are respected! Be sure to apologize every time you pick up the phone! Miss one, and you’ll lose points! Your score in this game is represented by the balance of your bank account. When you reach the goal, you have earned the right to play a game with much simpler rules.

So much of this I also see in Korea. The question is, did it come from Japan, from Korea (unlikely) or is it some more general Asian phenomenon, the product of confucian ideas over time?