Five Perks of Being Married to a Japanese Salaryman

Like many Japanese salarymen, YJ works late. A lot. And then has a long commute on top of that. It often sucksーwe can’t eat together, or go anywhere… He almost only ever sees me in my pajamas: when he leaves for work and when he comes home. (And it’s not because I’m not dressed before 10am, I swear!)

There are however some perks to dealing with the Japanese salaryman lifestyle! And when I think about it positively, it’s actually not so badーas long as he gets to take his days off like he should. So I made a list of the things that are good about him working late.

coolbiz salaryman

YJ’s not the only hardworking salaryman in town. This guy looks pretty pooped too. Ahh, commuting in Tokyo is so much fun. (And no, this is not YJ. 😀 )

1. I get to spend the evening out with my friends, undisturbed

I can meet up with friends for dinner or drinks without having to rush home and cook or feel bad about leaving him at home on his lonesome. (And we all know what he’d be eating if left to his own devices…the ramen fiend in him is strong!) I appreciate that I can still maintain my social life outside of the two of us, as I think that’s important. Even though I’ve been a bit of a hermit lately, it’s been more because of work and study than anything else. Which leads me to my next point…

2. I can work or study at home until late

Similar to reason 1 in the sense that I can spend the time as I want, his is particular to being at home to work and study. Our apartment isn’t so big (understatement of 2015?), and YJ has a tendency to talk/ask questions a lot when we’re together. Which is fine if I’m just surfing online or reading, but it can be frustrating when I need to concentrate and gets things done before a deadline.

3. I have time to cook something nice for both of us

Even if I work or am out a bit late in the evening, YJ always calls before he leaves the office. Since I know it takes him about an hour and a half to get home I have time to put some food together by the time he gets home. This is especially good now that I’m working from homeーI’m too lazy to cook something “just” for myself during the day and generally eat leftovers or something quick and easy. The leftovers I eat are usually from what I cooked for YJ the night before, so it works out pretty well! Ideally we’d be eating the same food at the same time together, but not much opportunity for that except on days off lately.

4. I can rock out to whatever music I want to

This may seem like a minor point for some, but I live and breathe music. It helps me think, focus, and just feel good. However, YJ and my music tastes could not be more different! He likes R’n’B, hip hop and classical baroque, and I’m more of a rock, punk and metal girl. I’ll listen to pretty much anything, but I’m a bit more selective when I want to listen “for fun”. His music tends to bore me and mine terrifies him. I usually listen using my earphones anyway (I’m pretty sure my neighbor downstairs is pretty into K-pop, so I don’t think he’d like my music either) but it’s hard to do when YJ is around. (See nr 2!) Especially if I’ve got something really heavy, like Crossfaith, he thinks I’m ignoring him while I’m in fact just unintentionally drowning him out. (Actually, he’s given me a shock a number of times because I’ve not heard him come in!)

5. It makes me appreciate the time we do have together more

Since we don’t have much time to spend just the two of us, I make an effort to be more present when we do have that precious time together and make the most of it. I don’t check my phone (unless it’s something really urgent for work), and try to keep our day together free of other plans or deadlines. I’m more generous with my time and attention that I would be otherwise, and so is YJ.

YJ the japanese salaryman

Bonus: I can both have my cake and eat itーliterally.

Lina from My Hong Kong Husband mentioned this in her post about her husband being away on business trips a lot. I can eat my favorite sweets and YJ won’t have a clue (unless I give myself away by not getting rid of the evidence!). He doesn’t mind really, but of course he worries about my health if he thinks I’m eating too many snacks or sweets… Or if I’ve accidentally eaten his portion of something we both like. (If I eat *all* of it, he won’t notice I ever bought it, right…? Right. Totally guilt-free treats! That’s some serious Ri-logic right there for you.) Also related, Marta of Marta Lives in China also wrote about her “short” long distance relationship with her boyfriendーshe lives in Shanghai during the week and returns to Suzhou during the weekends.


While I’d of course prefer to spend more time every day with YJ, looking at the perks of being able to live a bit more independently, it’s not a bad deal at all. ^^ And who knows, things may change in the future, so I better get all that study, work and socializing done while I can! (Actually, I know things the current typical Japanese salaryman status won’t go on forever… Perhaps one of the reasons I’m able to see the positive side of things!)

 Do you have, or are you a partner that spends a lot of time away from home and family? Are there any perks for you?

23 responses to “Five Perks of Being Married to a Japanese Salaryman”

  1. Ria says:

    It’s so great you can look at the positive side of things!

    I just found your blog, my husband is living the life of the typical salaryman too. I can see some of the same benefits, but we’re both terrified of accepting that “this is our life for the foreseeable future”…often he just stands up from his desk and says “I’m going home” and comes home, and sneaks out of the drinking parties…I don’t think we fit this country 🙁 funny because he was born here!

    • Ri says:

      Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment! ^^

      Yes, it’s definitely toughーbut good on your husband for being able to leave on occasion. It’s definitely not an easy thing to do with all that peer pressure. :/ I think there are a lot of people who don’t want to work those crazy hours anymore, but I guess it takes time for company culture to change along with society. Hoping for fast change anyway, though!

  2. I’ve seen Japanese salarymen up close for about a week when I went to Tokyo and Fukushima for a business visit. I was told pretty much the same things: that they have to work late, and the commute home is at least an hour (usually more). I was told that if they get home before 9PM, they will get stick from the wives at home, because arriving home “earlier” than expected means they are not working as hard as they should. So sometimes if they have an easy day and are able to knock off early, they would just head to an izakaya and get some drinks before going home.

    I wonder if this is one of the reasons some Japanese men prefer non-Japanese wives.
    CL (RealGunners) recently posted…Pre-CNY Activities

    • Ri says:

      True, there’s definitely still that old-school way of thinkingーif the husband comes home “too early”, then it’s a problem. It definitely stems from the idea that salarymen have to put in long hours at work to look busy in front of their bosses, even if they’re not so effective. And once that work is done, you should still be socializing with your co-workers to really emphasize the togetherness and tight unit at work. Unfortunately, the reality of this is often quite different. (Like being forced to drink when you physically can’tーYJ gets very ill if he drinks, but is still forced to take sips sometimes, for the sake of not making any waves…)

      You may have a point there! While it’s generalizing a lot, I do know some Japanese men who are either married or together with non-Japanese women who have said they don’t feel the same kind of pressure when it comes to work/money that they had with Japanese women they dated.

  3. That’s nice you can appreciate the positive side of your husband’s situation! As the old cliche goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” so you would definitely enjoy the time you have together that much more. 🙂
    Jocelyn Eikenburg recently posted…Interview with Sonali Dev on her book “A Bollywood Affair”

    • Ri says:

      Thank you for dropping by! 🙂
      That’s true! That expression didn’t even cross my mind, haha! I just hope I can adjust back again if/when things change and he’s around a lot more. 😉

  4. I think it is important for all couples to spend time with their friends so I agree with your first point. My time is usually spent drinking coffee or dining with friends while my husband prefers to cycle and then eat with his buddies. (However, he had an accident yesterday when a scooter didn’t look and crossed him off – he is ok but the front wheel of his bike isn’t.)

    I love the fact that when you are together you only check your phone if it relates to work. As I mentioned in a comment on Mabel’s latest post, I have a rule of no smartphones when dining. My husband and I went to our favorite restaurant last week and no one was talking to each other, most were on their phones. So, I am happy to hear that you value your quality time with YJ. 🙂

    Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope YJ spoils you rotten today (and every day for that matter)!
    Constance – Foreign Sanctuary recently posted…Warming Hearts and Sharing His Culture with a Taiwanese Love Song

    • Ri says:

      Eek! I hope your husband is okayーyou mentioned he managed without any scrapes, but I’m sure it can still be a bit of a shock, as well as a point of frustration… Hope the bike wheel can be fixed too!

      The no smartphone rule is a great one! I enforce it because I know I’m the most easily distracted: one message leads to another and then checking something else… It’s pretty bad. ^^; I’ve noticed a lot of couplesーand even families!ーeating out and everyone is on their cellphone. It’s kind of sad. 🙁

      Happy Valentine’s Day! <3 <3 <3
      YJ and I just had a great lunch... and then he'll be off to work soon, but just for a couple of hours, so we should be able to have a quiet dinner together too. Yaaay!
      Do you have any special plans for the day?

  5. Timo says:

    I think I would go crazy if I had to work constantly more than 8 hours a day…on top of that I only live 5min away from my work place :p

    I really need a few hours in the evening to relax otherwise I would go berserk at work as there is a lot of stuff going on which annoys me too much
    Timo recently posted…Neumünster Zoo

    • Ri says:

      Yeah, having your own time to relax and be mentally (as well as physically) away from work is so important! This kind of work-life balance (ie, no work-life balance!!) isn’t good, but I know YJ isn’t the only one with a schedule like this. T-T
      What do you normally do to take your mind off of work? Apart from play with the adorable Nathancuty, of course. 😉

  6. Marta says:

    I agree with you! Of course we would like to spend more time with our significant others, but if things have to be like this… we might as well try to look for the bright side! 🙂

    (Thanks for the link!).
    Marta recently posted…Sculptures around the lake

  7. I work 9am to 5pm (or 2pm to 10pm, depending on the day) and H works 2am to 9am. We literally pass each other out the door every morning. I am not complaining though, we spend our off time together and the days I work late means we get to spend the mornings together too.

    If we weren’t living together it’d probably be more frustrating !
    Miyagi Mermaid recently posted…The Good News 1:22

    • Ri says:

      It can definitely be tough with such varying schedules! But that’s good that you have those gaps where you can catch up and be together during the week, as well as days off. 🙂

  8. Mabel Kwong says:

    I left a comment here just now and it disappeared 🙁

    Anyway. I will start again. It’s so good to hear that you and YJ have such a workable relationship! At least we all know YJ can survive on ramen when you are not around…not ideal, but it is better than not eating.

    Your music terrifies him? You must be listening to your music way too loud when he comes in and you don’t realise until after a while! Sometimes I listen to music loud to drown out the noises coming from the TV. My mum loves watching Chinese dramas and from it comes a lot of shooting and war sounds. Distracting. After a while she might ask me some questions and I try to answer her…yet I don’t know what she’s really asking. It’s usually if I’m coming home for dinner tomorrow, though 😀
    Mabel Kwong recently posted…Why We Eat Together At Home. And The Importance Of It

    • Ri says:

      Aww, I’m sorry about the comment disappearing! That happens to me on other blogs too sometimes, but usually because I start at one point and the walk off and do something else, then come back. My blog may be acting a bit funky as I7m still trying to correct some issues… Which means other parts break instead D:

      I don’t think I play it tooooo loud, but I have invested in some seriously good noise canceling earphones which hehe!

      Ooh, sounds like quite dramatic shows! 😀 I saw your post about dining together, but haven’t read through properly yet. It’s hard on an empty stomach, even if the food part is just a cursory mention. XD <-hopeless

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