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Q: Modern Japanese lifestyle ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Modern Japanese lifestyle
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: kinglord-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 22 Jan 2004 12:17 PST
Expires: 21 Feb 2004 12:17 PST
Question ID: 299040
I am writing a novel and have a character who is a 40 year old single
man living in Tokyo. I need to know (in English) what typically his
lifestyle might be. Eg his working hours, sources of entertainment,
whether he has a hired help, how he might travel, what type of food he
might eat, typical hobbies etc. i.e general lifestyle of middle-aged
Tokyo men!

Request for Question Clarification by politicalguru-ga on 23 Jan 2004 04:36 PST
Dear King Lord, 

Is your man a Western (or otherwise foreign) man, or a Japanese one?

Request for Question Clarification by hailstorm-ga on 23 Jan 2004 05:11 PST
One more thing I would like to know about this character:  does he
choose to be single, or is he an unwilling single who would rather be

Living in Tokyo for the past seven years, I can tell you the
difference in those types would probably result in considerably
different lifestyles...

Clarification of Question by kinglord-ga on 23 Jan 2004 06:35 PST
Hi - thanks for the requests to clarify. He is a Japanese man. He is a
bit of a commitment-phobe, but if you asked him (I realise this is
difficult as he is fictional!) he would say that he wants a
relationship. He has had a couple of heterosexual relationships in the
past but has been single for the last couple of years. Thanks.

Request for Question Clarification by hailstorm-ga on 23 Jan 2004 18:40 PST
There is a significant difference between the "haves" and "have nots"
in Tokyo.  Is this man some sort of business dynammo with a
substantial income, or just your ordinary salaryman?

Clarification of Question by kinglord-ga on 23 Jan 2004 19:47 PST
Hi Hailstorm.
The man is a middle-ranking executive in a merchant bank - he is not a
trader on a huge bonus, but more like someone who is asked to look at
"due diligence" for companies that want venture capital. He has a very
comfortable income.
Hope this helps clarify. Thanks for your interest in the question.
Subject: Re: Modern Japanese lifestyle
Answered By: hailstorm-ga on 23 Jan 2004 20:12 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars

OK, I think I have a grip on your guy's image.  Since you didn't give
him a name, I'll call him Takeshi Yamasaki for now.

As a forty year-old single guy who's worked his way up to a middle
executive ranks in the highly competitive banking field, Takeshi seems
like a guy who puts his career above everything (probably why his
relationships never last)  Yamasaki-san seems like a guy who wants
everything out of life, so the 100 hour weeks he most likely puts in
don't stop him from getting out and enjoying the finer things in life.

So I imagine he makes the most of the time he has by locating himself
in the Roppongi district of Tokyo, where even when the trains stop
running the parties have only just begun.  He's probably taken the
opportunity to relocate himself in the brand new Roppongi Hills

This complex, which just opened last year, caters to the the upscale
business lifestyle, offering a mini city within a city with all of the
finest things Tokyo has to offer on an almost 24-hour basis.  While he
wouldn't have hired help there, the concierge services are probably
adequate for his needs.  Here, or in the surrounding Roppongi city
filled with reveling foreigners (probably the hottest gaijin spot in
all of Japan), he can indulge in anything from fine French and Italian
cuisine, to the increasingly popular Asian fare such as Korean and
Thai.  And of course, all that Japan has to offer, especially the
upscale izakayas in the area, providing our Takeshi with the whiskey
and sake that fuels his intense lifestyle.  If he's really living high
on the hog, he might occasionally take the short trip to Akasaka to
partake in the local geisha entertainment.

I'm not sure what other details you're looking for, so if there's any
other specific questions you have about our Takeshi, please let me

Search terms used:
Roppongi hills

Request for Answer Clarification by kinglord-ga on 24 Jan 2004 03:09 PST
Thanks hailstorm,
I have found your answer helpful. Before I close this query, I wonder
if there is anything you can add that relates to the original question
eg typical Japanese working hours, modes of transport to and from
work, is it true that karaoke, karate and golf are popular or is that
a myth? Does religion impact on Japanese life? And am I right in
assuming that the Japanese would sleep the same hours as someone in
for example England (roughly 8 hours)?
Don't worry if you can't answer any of these queries, I thought I'd
ask whilst I had your ear.
Many thanks.

Clarification of Answer by hailstorm-ga on 24 Jan 2004 04:12 PST

The eight hour workday is a paradise that I and most other Japanese
salarymen do not enjoy.  I mentioned the 100 hour weeks in my answer; 
by this I mean that bank executives are putting in around 16 hour
workdays Monday thru Friday, and probably doing some extra stuff on
Saturday and Sunday, not including time outside the office wining and
dining with clients or others from work.

Your Tokyo executive, unless he's lucky enough to live within walking
distance of work, is probably cramming himself into a crowded train or
subway around 7:00-7:30am, leaving the office sometime between
9:00-11:00pm, and most nights is going out drinking with customers
and/or co-workers at an izakaya or pub until the last train home...or
perhaps skipping the last train and going out to an all-night karaoke
place with friends until the trains start running again around 5am. 
Our friend probably hasn't gotten eight hours of sleep in years...or
at least since the last time he was stricken with a really bad
illness.  More likely he's getting 4 to 5 hours of sleep on the

Most Japanese are brought up under the influence of the Shinto and
Buddhist religions (though curiously, many people get married in
Christian churches)  The Buddhist mindset plays a part in shaping
one's way of thought, but the only way it directly enters most
people's lives might be in the spring, summer, and on the anniversary
of a parent's death, when he might go to visit their grave.

It wouldn't be particularly strange for your guy to be doing karate or
golf.  He's much more likely to be doing golf than karaoke, though it
is extremely expensive.  Karaoke is popular among all walks of life,
though Japan has specialized "karaoke booths", private rooms rented
out to groups of people as opposed to everyone sharing one common
space, and he's surely doing this at times.
kinglord-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
The answer gave me a very good flavour of what I was after and the
response was very fast.

Subject: Re: Modern Japanese lifestyle
From: mbailey-ga on 13 Aug 2004 23:28 PDT
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that it's pretty unlikely
that he can afford to live in Roppongi Hills unless he *is* a trader
on a huge bonus.

Two suggestions - the lifestyle will change dramatically for your
character if he works for a Japanese bank or a foreign one.

Japanese - as described above - except at age 40 the money will be
fairly pitiful. Probably around 25 million yen a year, or about
$US210,000. Which may sound like a lot, but doesnt get you far after
taxes and a playboy lifestyle. The company will subsidize a lot of it
though, including entertainment and housing. The housing will be about
a 40-50 minute train ride away, and probably not the best. Most
employees will have married a secretary by this age, and he is
probably looked at sideways for not being married and having moved out
of company housing.

Foreign - he probably works in Roppongi Hills. Lives not far away,
probably a 1000yen cab ride. Lives in a tower block in Minami-Azabu,
or Hiroo. Due diligence for private equity deals is something he would
delegate to the 20-somethings he has on staff - he is likely a
Vice-President or Managing Director and earning between $400,000 and
$1 million (40-100 million yen a year). Single with no commitments or
dependants, he has a luxurious lifestyle. He might have a Filipina
maid who would come in once or twice a week to clean.

Hope this isn't too late. My experience is that I am one of the peons
he delegates work to. In 10 years time I hope to be Case 2!
Subject: Re: Modern Japanese lifestyle
From: kinglord-ga on 14 Aug 2004 04:12 PDT
Thamks mbailey. Very helpful. In ten years when you have become case 2
I might just have finished this novel!

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