Salaryman - Samurai in modern times ?

Salaryman means a fixed payed and a white-collar worker in general. It still consists of major segment of working class and had much similarity with Samurai in the Edo era lasted from 17 to 18 century. Working ethic is changing but you might meet older people who still have loyalty to a company when you do a business in Japan.

Salaymen and Samurai meeting

After Tokugawa Ieyasu ruled the whole Japan, there was no need for brave warriors but clever administrative officials. They did not fight but paper-work, calculate tax and record yield. They had annual payment with rice crops and did desk works in office just like Salaryman did. At that time, people lived in town were Samurai, craftsmen and merchants. Other two groups had no fixed payment.

The governor was the master of them called Tono those days and respected as a head of a clan like many Japanese company presidents had been so. He treated them well, too. Japanese presidents had taken care of workers not just like servants but family members.

Promotions had almost never occurred and children inherited their father's job those days and once they had hired, they seldom got fired for generations. Japanese companies were so too and there were only few people who thought of changing jobs. Getting fired meant that they had to leave their home and disgraced their family as well as relatives and ancestors.

Chusingra in UkiyoeOne of Japanese most loved Samurai story is "Chu-sin-gra". "Faithful vassal, Kuranosuke" is its direct interpretation and a true story of 47 retainers vengeance lead by Oishi Kuranosuke, fighting for unfairly punished their master who was forced to self-kill, Seppuku or Harakiri to restore his and clan honor. Though revenge for ones master is permitted in Samurai society, this was against a decision of Shogun, the master of their master, and they knew to be sentenced to self-kill. it is said to be the one of most famous example of Samurai behavior. The story is played in Kabuki program as the most popular one and made into films several times in Japan. Hollywood 2013 movie "47-Ronin" is based on this tale.

The custom have been changed. Japanese companies can not afford to have surplus workers and not to fire them to win against global competition. Current workers have no loyalty to a company president and a company. Even full time workers are diminishing as downturn continues. Only people who preferred to work foreign companies used to think those old custom was out-of-date. Now most of them think that way. If you had Japanese branch, you might not notice the work ethic difference with your home country any more. Most probably, you will not be respected like a father and they will not sacrifice their life.

Current Samurai may be a public servant as for the most stable job. Actually, this sanctuary is to be extinct, as well. City halls and libraries are run by clerks sent from commercial companies and private companies collect garbage.

Overall, everything is westernized. You may not be too worried about cultural difference.


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