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Tanshinfuninn - Working Away from Home

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  • Tanshinfuninn - Working Away from Home

    Hey all, I have lurked here from time to time, but this is my first thread here.

    I'm working towards a career as an English teacher in Japan, and part of that effort involves studying Japanese culture. I was talking to my friend in Kyushu the other day when somehow we got on the topic of tanshinfunini’Pg•‹”Cj. She told me about it, and later I did some more research to get more information about it. She says that it's common for husbands in Japan (and sometimes wives) to work away from home for long periods of time. I told her that it's pretty rare in the US, and that many American couples would probably consider being separated for 5, 10, or 15 years to be a little unusual.

    Anyway, I want to learn more about it from the gaijin perspective. I know that in the US, members of the military and certain high-level executives might work away from home for multiple years, but they are exceptions. From what I've found, they have whole support networks for, blogs written by, and entire ƒ}ƒ“ƒVƒ‡ƒ“ dedicated just for guys working away from home. They even have vocaloid music videos on Youtube about it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lf1Lb5Jpzs8

    So my question is, what is your opinion on this bit of Japanese corporate culture? Objectively speaking, it seems like an inefficient practice. Why take a husband from his family, subjecting him to the loneliness of ˆκl•ι‚η‚΅, instead of hiring someone close to the location that will remain close to home and (presumably) happy with the situation? Subjectively speaking, to an American such as myself, a marriage in which the intervals between physical contact with your spouse are measured in months or years doesn't seems like a real marriage to me. However, I don't have any experience to speak from.

    I hope this is the right place for this kind of thread. I wasn't sure if the Offtopic forum was appropriate for this topic.

  • #2
    As an older professional, I have to say that the wives of those Tanshin guys are one of the ripest and hottest dating pools in the history of the world.

    It can take a bit of work to find their usual watering holes and hangouts, but when you do.............Hoo Boy, it's like living in one of those "Party with Wife of Absent Company Colleague" dickumentaries for which the Japanese are so deservedly renowned.

    Anyways, that's what I think.

    Hope that helps.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by mijokijo View Post

      So my question is, what is your opinion on this bit of Japanese corporate culture? Objectively speaking, it seems like an inefficient practice. Why take a husband from his family, subjecting him to the loneliness of ˆκl•ι‚η‚΅, instead of hiring someone close to the location that will remain close to home and (presumably) happy with the situation?
      Japanese employees are rotated around different areas of the company and are often posted to different branches of the same company so they have a broad understanding of the whole company not one part. Employees refuse a company transfer at their own risk as they will miss out on promotions or pay raises.

      The father goes alone so as not to disrupt children's schooling. If they have exams, juku, sports clubs etc its hard to set up in a completely new location and take children away from friends and familiar environment. Army brats will move around all the time in the US but its not considered good to do that here.

      I know one guy from Gumma who was posted to Nara for 3 years and and just moved back and will live in Tochigi with his family.

      PS I lived separately from my wife for 5 years. Maybe one reason it didnt work out so well for me.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by KansaiBen View Post
        PS I lived separately from my wife for 5 years. Maybe one reason it didnt work out so well for me.

        But it could of KB.............it could have............

        Oh, wait. You mean your marriage.

        My bad..............never mind.




        Comment


        • #5
          Or maybe it was why it lasted as long as it did!

          -----------------------------------------------------------

          I personally think it's a horrible part of Japanese culture. I just found out that my wife's friend's husband (they live behind us) has been up in Aomori for work for the past 6 months, and will likely be up there for another 6 months. That's ridiculous in my books. If I had to go somewhere for a year, I'd pack up the family and go for a year. But I think it's socially irresponsible of companies to expect their employees to do this.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Effected After View Post
            Or maybe it was why it lasted as long as it did!
            2 years pre-marriage, 3 years post marriage. Glutton for punishment.

            Comment


            • #7
              Personally I think it's pretty horrible but it still seems to be quite common here. A way to prove loyalty to the company so to speak. I know a few middle-aged/older couples who had arranged marriages and for them it was almost a blessing in disguise. Once they'd 'done their duty' and had kids that is...

              Others I'm not so sure about. I've been transferred before though only an hour down the road so not so bad. I left due to other issues but it seems that management thought I'd resigned because I couldn't bear to be that far away from home.

              Other co-workers have been transferred to different ends of the country. The ones that take it are all men, and I'm a woman. Some like it, some not. One of my coworkers is an exceptionally intelligent guy who speaks English really well. He got permission for a sabbatical in the UK to do his Phd. Once he was back he was moved from place to place almost yearly. Kind of like he owed them. But also that he was qualified. He got married, had a kid and as soon as his new family house was built he was moved as far away as possible. I went out to drink with him before he left and he was so furious but as he's Japanese he complained to me but said nothing to management.

              I also teach a couple of private students. One family, the dad works for Matsu____a (Panasonic). They lived together in America and England for over 10 years, one son was even born in the UK. Since they came back it's been a hard adjustment, especially for the mom who was desperate to go back to Europe or the US. So she encouraged her husband to apply for tanshin funin again...Except he was transferred this time to New Delhi. For 5 years. They still speak of him affectionately but there's no way they're going out there with him. They miss him, but they're getting his money too and they talk to him on Skype every week and that's enough for them...

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by kurogane View Post
                As an older professional, I have to say that the wives of those Tanshin guys are one of the ripest and hottest dating pools in the history of the world.

                It can take a bit of work to find their usual watering holes and hangouts, but when you do.............Hoo Boy, it's like living in one of those "Party with Wife of Absent Company Colleague" dickumentaries for which the Japanese are so deservedly renowned.

                Anyways, that's what I think.

                Hope that helps.
                Actually, my friend in Kyushu says that some gaijin hit on her when her husband was away. She says that she turned said gaijin down.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by KansaiBen View Post
                  Japanese employees are rotated around different areas of the company and are often posted to different branches of the same company so they have a broad understanding of the whole company not one part. Employees refuse a company transfer at their own risk as they will miss out on promotions or pay raises.

                  The father goes alone so as not to disrupt children's schooling. If they have exams, juku, sports clubs etc its hard to set up in a completely new location and take children away from friends and familiar environment. Army brats will move around all the time in the US but its not considered good to do that here.

                  I know one guy from Gumma who was posted to Nara for 3 years and and just moved back and will live in Tochigi with his family.

                  PS I lived separately from my wife for 5 years. Maybe one reason it didnt work out so well for me.
                  Yeah, my friend told me that it's normally because of the kids that the wife stays behind. I found some statistics on it, too, but they're on my other computer.

                  Personally, my dad wasn't in the military, but we moved around a lot. When he was a kid, his dad was a doctor and his family moved around a lot, too. I was home-schooled, so my situation was certainly different from the typical Japanese kid's situation.

                  I have a question for you. When your company transferred you, did they give you an estimate for how long the transfer would last? Or were they unspecific? I was just thinking that it might not be as bad if you knew you would be home in a certain amount of time, but if it was indefinite, then it would be a lot harder emotionally.

                  Also, did you find it useful for your work?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Effected After View Post
                    Or maybe it was why it lasted as long as it did!

                    -----------------------------------------------------------

                    I personally think it's a horrible part of Japanese culture. I just found out that my wife's friend's husband (they live behind us) has been up in Aomori for work for the past 6 months, and will likely be up there for another 6 months. That's ridiculous in my books. If I had to go somewhere for a year, I'd pack up the family and go for a year. But I think it's socially irresponsible of companies to expect their employees to do this.
                    I think at one point in time the practice was necessary (during the Meiji period and post-WWII Japan, for example), but now it seems unnecessary. It seems like it would be cheaper and better to hire people locally.

                    I agree, I would probably pack up the whole family, too, but my personal experience biases me in that direction.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Bella Bowtruckle View Post
                      Personally I think it's pretty horrible but it still seems to be quite common here. A way to prove loyalty to the company so to speak. I know a few middle-aged/older couples who had arranged marriages and for them it was almost a blessing in disguise. Once they'd 'done their duty' and had kids that is...

                      Others I'm not so sure about. I've been transferred before though only an hour down the road so not so bad. I left due to other issues but it seems that management thought I'd resigned because I couldn't bear to be that far away from home.

                      Other co-workers have been transferred to different ends of the country. The ones that take it are all men, and I'm a woman. Some like it, some not. One of my coworkers is an exceptionally intelligent guy who speaks English really well. He got permission for a sabbatical in the UK to do his Phd. Once he was back he was moved from place to place almost yearly. Kind of like he owed them. But also that he was qualified. He got married, had a kid and as soon as his new family house was built he was moved as far away as possible. I went out to drink with him before he left and he was so furious but as he's Japanese he complained to me but said nothing to management.
                      Yikes, that sucks. Why not just find a new job with his fresh PhD? I can understand having loyalty to the company, especially since they let him get a PhD, but after a year or two of moving around, I would see the "favor" repaid.

                      I found an article in Japanese critical of tanshinfunin, but it's on my other computer.

                      I also teach a couple of private students. One family, the dad works for Matsu____a (Panasonic). They lived together in America and England for over 10 years, one son was even born in the UK. Since they came back it's been a hard adjustment, especially for the mom who was desperate to go back to Europe or the US. So she encouraged her husband to apply for tanshin funin again...Except he was transferred this time to New Delhi. For 5 years. They still speak of him affectionately but there's no way they're going out there with him. They miss him, but they're getting his money too and they talk to him on Skype every week and that's enough for them...
                      Yikes, that sucks. So people apply for tanshinfunin, too? Didn't know that. Are they both Japanese?

                      My parents met a friend some years ago who had a Japanese mother and American father. After they got married, the dad moved back to the US. They were separated for 12 years before the mom moved to the US.

                      When I first told my parents about tanshinfunin, my mom asked, "So, do they have a problem with cheating?" For Americans, I think that might be a common question to ask. She is especially sensitive because her first husband cheated on her, but he did it at her house. So, you husband or wife doesn't need to be far away for them to do those kinds of things, but it makes it easier (and makes people more desperate). And as has been demonstrated in this thread, there are some people that are well aware of this fact and take advantage of it.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mijokijo View Post
                        Actually, my friend in Kyushu says that some gaijin hit on her when her husband was away. She says that she turned said gaijin down.
                        She said so, eh!? .................................................. ........JOKE!

                        Good for her.

                        I would never hit on said wives................all you need to do is drink with them a few times, and nature takes its course, or doesn't.

                        Either way, you get to enjoy a few drinks with some often very nice women.



                        BTW, I would strongly caution you against looking at this as A Japanese Thing.

                        Lots of people around the world do this; it is just that most of Us don't.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by kurogane View Post
                          BTW, I would strongly caution you against looking at this as A Japanese Thing.

                          Lots of people around the world do this; it is just that most of Us don't.
                          Do you mean tanshinfunin? I'm relatively ignorant of European cultures, but I've never heard of something like tanshinfunin before learning about it from my friend. Do you know of any other cultures that have that sort of practice?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Here's an article I've found that seems to be critical of tanshinfunin (I can't read the rest without a subscription, however): http://business.nikkeibp.co.jp/artic...30/224698/?P=1

                            Here's the site with various statistics: http://www.the0123.com/kenkyu/

                            One statistic, from what I can understand, shows that 72% of people surveyed only go back home once a month.

                            I'm not really that good with searching in Japanese yet, but just searching for ’Pg•‹”C brought back a lot of interesting stuff.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              First, this 'Tanshinfunin' only applies to a certain part of the business world, i.e. mid-level male managers at larger Japanese companies who have a more or less guaranteed 'lifetime employment'. The guy who owns the flower shop next door or the company receptionist will not have to suddenly move to Hokkaido. So this mainly affects the upper middle class in Japanese society, people who are in their 30s or 40s, with kids in School and who are earning enough to have purchased their own house or condo. On the other hand you have the company wants these managers to gain experience and also streamlime their corporate culture by transferring employees around the country.

                              For many families it does not make sense to give up their house just for 2-3 years when it's clear that they will be transferred back. Also, these families put a high value on education and the Japanese system is very inflexible. Getting into a famous university means a good carreer in corporate Japan and disrupting the kid's education by a transfer might mean they could fall out of the system. To give an example, if your 15-year old son has secured a place at the Waseda High School this means an almost automatic transfer to the famous Waseda University, but moving him out to relocate to Hokkaido would most likey mean that he's out.
                              Also, as was pointed out, many Japanese have 'marriages of convenience' and living apart might even has its advantages for some couple. Rather than getting a divorce, the couple might just agree that the husband becomes a tanshin-funin, thus saving the fassade for everyone. It would be interesting to have a statistic that shows how many of those cases are 'divorces in disguise'.
                              Last edited by ttokyo; 2012-04-27, 03:13 PM.

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