This breaks my heart. Bc I also did the same. At my first reporter job at AP Tokyo, I deliberately asked for the 4pm-midnight shift so I could work on additional features during the day, on my own time. I did this kind of thing a lot. Has it paid off? In a narrow sense, maybe.
But am I paying for it in terms of my mental health/life choices (eg foregoing kids bc I never had the time to even think about that seriously?) Thats a bigger, more important and ultimately life-defining question that I’m afraid I’m still coming to terms with.
There are so many things wrapped up in this. In a way I brought this on myself — *I* wanted to get ahead. But is it healthy for an industry to require this level of self-sacrifice to thrive — not to mention, it’s structurally harder for some of us to break through.
Now remembering I even moved closer to the AP bureau so I didn’t have to worry about the last train and could keep working after my midnight shift. I was once so exhausted I crashed my bike into a poor Tsukiji fishmonger — police had to come and everything. Don’t do this.
Of course there are the good memories too right? One of them: going for midnight sushi at Tsukiji market next door with AP photographers who also worked round the clock. And Tsukiji also works round the clock. I guess this problem is society-wide..
And I want to stress this was grunt work. These were stories no one was looking for, but I went out and reported the hell out of them and got them published. Very different from being sent off to cover major breaking news, which I know can also be intense.
But many of us never get to do that, and have to hustle for bylines beyond the commodity news, even when working full time at news orgs. I’ve never been on big assignments, except for Fukushima in my backyard, and felt I had to throw all my waking hours at my job to be noticed.
But the nature of the news industry is that you can work 24/7 and still feel you’re falling short. How can things be better? I really don’t know. My advice? Focus on the stories that matter to you, bc that’s what will keep you going when you start to question everything else.
Won’t say when, but also remembering the time I had a membership at a gym near the office so when I pulled an all nighter I cd take a shower and go back to work. Looking back, it was crazy and I probably permanently damaged my health (esp bc I was too tired to actually work out!)
My husband after reading this thread: Did any of this really make any difference? (He doesn’t think it did)😅😭
My husband was also like you gotta cheer up and showed me this tweet.. I am too exhausted (!) to translate it, but this poor Japanese learner 😂 Sharing for my bilingual friends out there
But an even more intense industry (at least in Japan)? TV. My husband has worked 22 hour days. Literally 6am-4am. Then a quick nap, then 6am call time again. If you ever wondered why Japanese TV dramas are so bad, this is one reason. Everyone is too exhausted to think creatively.
And my husband can’t just be slumped at a desk either — he’s running round on set. Staff would literally become too tired to stand, and have to take a knee on the floor during scenes to save their strength. Lots of free Red Bulls (used to be even worse in the “hiropon” era)
Yes — when I freelanced at TV Asahi I got to know an AD who rented a 6-tatami mat crash pad in Roppongi bc he often did not have time to back to his real apartment an hour away. But I guess having that crash pad was still a luxury
Not uncommon in “creative” industries and beyond. My husband says TV dramas, as bad as they were, weren’t as extreme as “variety” shows (he never worked on those)
Oh wow, this isn’t even Tokyo — this is NYC. It seems we moved from one overworked city to another
Looking at it this way, is there any mystery why my husband and I don’t have kids?

That said, I truly don’t understand how parents work these same bruising jobs and raise kids on top of everything else. I already don’t get much sleep — parents just don’t get any sleep, ever?
Overwork and sleeplessness is everywhere —
Agreed, tho not all jobs. My office job at JETRO wasn’t like this — I hardly stayed late. Creative industries (TV, film, manga/anime/games, also architecture, advertising) known for punishing hours. Managers at restos, combinis. What else? I’m talking extreme — all nighters etc
And international finance has never failed us!

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More from @HirokoTabuchi

11 Sep
I actually somehow thought Japan was smaller than this. It’s pretty huge
Is this really to scale??
Read 15 tweets
25 Aug
I recently joined my neighborhood “Buy Nothing” group and it’s the best! Someone was giving away their barely used rice vinegar (speaking of!) and I walked over two blocks for it. Feels very Showa era — running to get some soy sauce from neighbors etc
It’s basically the only reason I log into Facebook now..
Apparently it’s a thing all over — recommend checking to see if your neighborhood has a group, if you aren’t already part of one!

Lots of clothes, pet items, furniture, food, art, electronics..

I’ve given away a bunch of things too. And it’s a great way to meet neighbors
Read 5 tweets
23 Aug
Among many things bizarrely wrong with the WaPo column: California rolls aren’t “a joke among the Japanese.” We love them, yum!

They are what we call a reverse import, and are commonly found all over Japan

Also: We are having Indian tonight ✊🏼 Image
Column calls California rolls “a pathetic sop to Americans who can’t get their brains around raw fish, which is what sushi is”

Except it isn’t! Plenty of sushi neta — eel, shrimp, octopus, tamago, inari — are cooked! As well as a favorite style, aburi
There are also some common vegetable neta — cucumber or pickled radish, of course, but also menegi, another favorite Image
Read 23 tweets
23 Aug
Navigating fallen branches and this heavy rain to get on the subway. Wish me luck..

I would stay home if I could, but this is a doctor’s appointment I can’t cancel
God bless these folks continuing to administer Covid tests in the rain
Vaxxed + masked. Subway riders are the best!
Read 6 tweets
23 Aug
There’s also fascinating analysis of how the suburbs created a whole generation of moms expected to endlessly chauffeur their kids to school and soccer games and play dates and sleepovers.. sprawl shapes society.
Safe* and reliable public transit is a big part of this. In Japan kids not only walk to school but also take trains and buses solo from a young age
This was a great clip
Read 4 tweets
21 Aug
Maybe there was some sort of issue with the previous bus, but honestly, public transit — especially buses — is such a challenge, even in NYC. Waited 25 minutes and am finally on my way.
Also, this parked car.. Image
A sight for sore eyes Image
Read 6 tweets

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