Being a Japan blogger, I often read comments from young people around the world about how they "wished they'd been born Japanese," and this always makes me smile a little. While Japan is a wonderful country that's managed to build a peaceful, happy society, there are some areas of life here that the average American or European would have some trouble dealing with. First, education is very important to the Japanese, which means students have to endure school on Saturdays and juku (cram school) in the evenings in order to keep up with studies. In order to get into a good high school or university, students must spend two years or more in "entrance exam hell," too. Then there's the important aspect of getting a job, and students in their third year of university begin a very structured job search, interviewing with hundreds of companies in the hopes of being offered an employment contract with a good one.There's a funny Cup Noodle CM -- er, TV commercial -- which shows job-seeking university students making a difficult trek through the snow. Suddenly they're confronted by five hostile polar bears, who turn out to be the interviewers that the applicants must get past in order to be hired. The Japanese job interview process itself is positively bizarre, too. As far as I can tell, applicants are required to suppress every scrap of personality and humbly downplay all their past achievements if they want to get hired.
A Cup Noodle commercial supporting young job seekers.