Embodying Japan: Cultures of Sport, Beauty, and Medicine 2017

Who is a salaryman?

         The term “salaryman” signifies a type of businessman prevalent in Japanese society. Salaryman are known as “corporate warrior[s]” because their work helped Japan recover economically from the damages of World War II (Dasgupta, 192). There are a few characteristics that define a typical salaryman. Salaryman usually have a great academic background from a prestigious university, and work with one company for a lifetime. Companies “expect absolute loyalty, diligence, steadfast dedication, and self-sacrifice” from salaryman in return for “permanent lifetime employment” and other benefits (Charlebois, 91).

         Another trait that defines a salaryman is the idea of masculinity, with emphasis on patriarchy, heterosexual relationships, and forming a family.  Salaryman have heterosexual relationships in order to establish a family, and are responsible for supporting their families by being the sole breadwinner. While the salaryman are not physically strong, they use their bodies effectively to work at companies and produce future generations of children that propagate the masculine power of the salaryman.  

         Even though salaryman culture is very dominant historically, recently there has been disruption due to various factors. First, the loss of “old guarantees” for salaryman like “permanent lifetime employment” due to recession lead to the idea of the salaryman being the sole provider of the family while the woman stay at home to be questioned (Dasgupta, 199). Furthermore, many workers are becoming less interested in the ideas of company loyalty. Many have “cynicism and resignation” about the salaryman ideals and believe that company training to become a salaryman are “a waste of time” (Dasgupta, 200). Because of this, the idea of “datsu-sara” which means “salaryman escaping,” and other types of sexuality and masculinity are becoming more visible (Dasgupta, 199).


Charlebois, Justin. "Herbivore Masculinity as an Oppositional Form of Masculinity." Culture, Society & Masculinities. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2017. <http://www.mensstudies.info/OJS/index.php/CSM/article/view/14>.

Dasgupta, Romit. "Performing Masculinities? The 'Salaryman' at Work and Play." Academia. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2017. <http://www.academia.edu/3691372/Performing_Masculinities_The_Salaryman_at_Work_and_Play>.

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