March 26, 2007


Meanwhile: The only warmth in my life is the heated toilet seat (Kumiko Makihara, March 26, 2007, International Herald Tribune)

Pity the lonely Japanese salaryman, or white-collar worker, who wrote that ode to his electrically warmed commode. The poem was an entry to this year's annual Salaryman Senryu Contest (senryu is a form of Japanese short poetry).

I had thought the stereotypical salaryman, often mocked as a corporate drone, was a thing of the past. Many fathers at my son's primary school, after all, show up at dawn on field day to grab prime viewing spots, displaying what seems like a healthy devotion to family life. But the following senryu suggests those dads may have simply extended their corporate servitude to the household.

Dad, please, a ride, save a seat, be in charge of the camera, and take out the trash

The insurance firm Dai-ichi Life runs the contest and recently selected 100 finalists from this year's 23,179 submissions. The public is currently invited to vote via the company's Web site (, and the 10 most popular senryu will be announced in May. The contest is now in its 20th year, and the winners' words have come to be regarded as indicators of the times.

Office politics and family life - or the lack of it - have been mainstay themes over the years, according to Dai-ichi Life, while dieting and high-tech ineptitude are recent topics. This year's submissions show many aging salarymen finding themselves misfits in their own firms amid increased competition, while years of corporate devotion have left them isolated from their families and communities.


Posted by Orrin Judd at March 26, 2007 4:19 PM
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