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Stress-Relief in Japan and the Western World

By July 21, 2019April 28th, 2021No Comments

Do you lock yourself in a bathroom when you need a moment for yourself? Or you go for a walk, or a drive maybe?  Above all, do you feel content and relaxed while enjoying the solitude? If the answer to all of the above questions is “yes”, then you can consider yourself to be a lucky person. We have been exploring the stress-relief in Japan and the western world.

Stress-Relief in Japan

Maybe you have never thought about it, but there are people who are so overwhelmed with the stress of their daily lives, that they cannot even find a place to vent. Take Japan, for example. The country that has very strong work ethic. The Japanese have advanced thanks to its perseverance and resourcefulness. They even incorporated many positive methods into their working environment in many industries. This goes to unimaginable lengths. Imagine a self-serving checkout (or cash register) in supermarkets. Yes, they have it and they are using it regardless how tech-savvy they are.

However, not all is shiny in the country of the rising sun. Apparently, the workers are highly stressed. Japanese have even invented the term “karōshi” meaning “overwork death”. Occupational sudden mortality happens even today. The term originates from the 1970s when they noticed the rising number of people dying from strokes or heart attacks associated with work burnout. Working overtime is often considered a public service.

Regardless of the industry they are working in, everyone needs time to break free. Recently, media reported about the phenomenon that rent-a-car agencies in Japan noticed first.  Namely, they noticed that the mileage remained almost the same after renting the cars to drivers. What they found out was that people renting cars actually just needed some time for themselves during the day. They needed to get away from constant hectic lifestyle. Furthermore, renting cars in Japan seems to be quite affordable, around 400 YEN for half an hour, which is approximately US$3.70. Renting agencies operate 24/7.

Work Ethics and Work Burnout

The interesting part about this phenomenon is that large number of cars rented were used for simply having lunch in solitude during a lunch break. Or, hiding away from bullies and annoying bosses. Alternatively, working Japanese use rent-a-cars for setting up a small office. There were also the cases of using rent-a-cars for storage. All in all, it appears that strong work ethic often goes hand in hand with estrangement. Orix Auto Corp i Times24 Co are among the largest rent-a-car agencies in Japan. They reportedly claimed that one in eight cars does not move around or go anywhere when rented. People use them to sort out their thoughts, to take a nap during a break, to reset their minds, or to simply get away from other people.

The western world can hardly imagine that kind of dedication. We cannot even begin to understand it. Therefore, we should not judge it either. What we should do is take care of ourselves and try to find that special private spot where we can take a break from everything that causes stress. Spending time alone is healthy. It gives us an opportunity to rethink the circumstances, relationships and our own acts in order to become better people. Happier individuals. Therefore, more appealing to others, but above all – to ourselves. Once we learn to appreciate our own efforts and time, life will become easier and more enjoyable.

Tell us about your special getaway spots. Is it a bench in the park? A visit to your favorite café? Or maybe, a secluded viewpoint overlooking the city?


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