"Makes me want to say, 'It's a beautiful world!' for you, for you, for you! It's not for me!"
Had a fantastic weekend out with a friend who is leaving for Tokyo soon, and another who lives in Tokyo but came down for BitSummit 5. So many inspiring people and experiences there. Stayed at 9 Hours again, for the win. It wasn't as cheap as previous times, but still a clean and relaxed environment to crash at.
Here's an answer I recently posted on Quora about working in Japan:
It’s rough. I worked in US game development for 8 years at five companies, and then over 10 more years in Japan at one company, before returning to US game development. From nearly every angle, developing in America is more rewarding than in Japan.
The salary is lower in Japan. I took at 15% pay cut from my US Art Director salary to take a corporate Director position. Some friends have taken closer to 50% pay cuts when joining a Japanese developer.
The hours are consistently longer in Japan. In 20 years, I’ve worked crunchtime in a number of companies; Japan demands more. A non-crunch workweek was ~50 hours but, prior to delivering builds, 60–65 hours was common, and we would be in 70~80 hours a week across 7-day-weeks for the last several months of any project.
Consideration from the company for the individual is largely unheard of in Japanese dev. It is culturally normal to see one’s efforts as part of the group’s, and this mentality of course carries into the workplace. It is critical to get tacit approval from superiors, because one is making a decision for the company as a whole, not just on one’s own responsibility.
On the positive side, my Japanese teammates were consistently hard working, diligent, faithful, and consistent. They would deliver on promises consistently, and largely communicated well when things were not going as planned. As a manager, I never felt left in the lurch.