Feb 13, 2016

The bubble economy is back! (or at least it was for some of my colleagues)

The bubble economy is back! (or at least it was for some of my colleagues) photo

The bubble economy is back

All in this story is related of several posts in my blog at  http://directionjapan.com

Again in my first gaishikei, Mr. Tahara was my boss, a pure product from the bubble economy.
First of all I want to say that he has been always caring for me, taking care of both my job and my private life.
He even rejoined me in my next company and I have mostly only good memories with him. At a young age, when just starting in Japan he has been a fatherly figure for me and I will always be grateful to him.
Even today, we exchange new years cards.
Mr. Tahara was graduated from a very good university, after his graduation he joined a top Japanese company and got married with a pretty reception lady from his company and got 2 children. So, for him, as his job as a husband and a father was done, he moved on.
When he joined our company he was in his forties still and was what I would call a "bubbly" salaryman.
This refers to Japan's bubble economy of the 1980s. (more on Wikipedia on this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_asset_price_bubble )
Peoples who have been working before the bubble crashed and enjoyed prosperity still keep for some of them such relation to money and enjoy spending, partying and so on...

A typical day and night activity

Mr. Tahara was managing the technical support team in the company. He was a master of his craft and was respected by customers and distributors. He was a hard worker too and was partying hard also.
His typical week consisted of a succession of early arrivals to the office, long working days and hard drinking nights, sometimes until the wee hours of the morning. More than often, he did not come back home but spent night in a sauna, had hot noodles on his way to the office and restarted his routine. Most probably as he had been doing all those years during the bubble economy.

He was time to time even coming to the office on the weekend, maybe to work on some important project, but maybe also not to stay at home and care of his family and having another occasion to party at night.
I had my fair share of joining him in his nightly expeditions and as I was living in central Tokyo (nearby the office in a small apartment rented by the company), he often took this opportunity to crash at my place. We were then going together to the office the next morning (or the same morning, at a later time, should I say).
As far as I know most of his activities were not sponsored by company funds and he did not put this on expenses (except if he was with customers).

Some do however abuse the system and I saw it at many occasions. I saw top sales managers spending more than 300,000 JPY per night or more than 1 Million Yen per month on entertainment. (might have been OK during the bubble economy).
While entertainment can be and is justified, it should be done with a purpose in mind and regulated.
If you are in a position where you need to investigate and set-up rules (or undercover misconduct), it is quite simple.

Few rules and tips:

  1. Take the past 3 months expenses notes from the person you want to check. (most probably a sales person or sales manager as other are generally not entitled to entertainment)
  2. Check the amounts involved, the patterns (i.e. every Friday, with the same customer/distributor,... the same place?)
  3. One quick check: if the amount is very round, i.e. 4,900 JPY, 49,000 JPY, 30,000 JPY, and you cannot read or check the place, you can be fairly sure it is a night entertainment place as hostess club. For normal restaurants, except if you are lucky you get more decimals and 4,934 JPY type of bills.

Entertainment costs have decreased a lot in the past years in Japan (and as a consequence a lot of snacks and hostess clubs closed in Ginza, or have be replaced by cheaper Chinese counterparts).
Recently, large companies, even when wined and dined are asking how much the cost was as per their compliance rules.



20 years experience in Japan. running http://directionjapan.com
French citizen in his forties living in Japan and almost 20 years working for foreign companies in Japan.


  • Tomuu

    on Feb 15

    I guy I used to teach was always doing business in those hostess clubs in Ginza! He said he'd take me one time, but I left before the chance came about. I remain curious.

  • DirectionJapan

    on Feb 15

    Hello and thank you for your comment. Ginza changed a lot in the past decade. With the bubble crash and less money available for companies, less peoples are going to pure Japanese hostess clubs. On top of that a lot of foreign managed hostess clubs (mainly Chinese) opened and offered better pricing. As a consequence many clubs closed. But this is the rule of the game and shops have to adapt to new business conditions. I might write a post about this because I could witness many funny situations in such places...