An article I read in the New York Times the other day about the dire current situation in Sudan has made me think a lot about integrity, stamina and bravery. Doctors and nurses who refuse to leave highly dangerous war zones because they simply cannot leave wounded people unattended to; Ukrainians who have no choice but to stay and fight, often losing their lives in the process.

I have nothing but admiration and respect for the valiance and self-sacrifice that so many human beings often display in the service of others; organizations like Medecins Sans Frontières, The Red Cross and Red Crescent which are full of incredible people who value preserving life and protecting the vulnerable above all else. They are unsung heroes who can sometimes just make me feel like a shameful indolent decadent.

Though on a different scale, we all make sacrifices to greater or lesser extents; good parents give so much for their children; partners compromise; if the world were purely selfish, nothing would work. Everything is about give and take; empathy; a natural desire to help others; love.

Selflessness is one thing. Martyrdom, though, is something different. On the one hand, this extreme manifestation of belief and emotion made real – literally dying for what you believe in – whether it being a refusal to renounce your faith even on pain of death; suicide bombing, the samurai’s need for honour necessitating ritual suicide by slicing open his bowels and then being beheaded by a cohort – makes me marvel at the potency of thought and feeling that can lead a human being to so fully place their worth at the centre of one particular set of values and the inner fortitude needed to then physically carry out the act; on the other, a more logical part of me can almost sneer at the level of ‘brainwashing’ required in the first place to so easily just throw away one’s own, precious life (the recent, highly macabre death of 201 Kenyans at the hands of a taxi driver turned cult leader who lured his pitifully naive adherents into a barren forest where he urged them to starve themselves to death in order to meet Jesus is a casebook study of how the unthinking are led into oblivion : the probable USA president of 2024 is yet another).

“Give me your money, and stop eating!”


Above: the lovely Jung Myung Seok, self-proclaimed Messiah, and founder of Providence, who has possibly achieved his stated lifetime goal of raping 10,000 women (the ‘Brides Of Christ’ ) during his lifetime – have you seen the horrifying Netflix documentary “In The Name Of God: A Holy Betrayal” ? – it truly beggared belief)

Below: Andreas from Buddhafield, yet another mindboggling cult (it is always the same pattern) in which yet another mastermanipulator managed to make his young male acolytes dance ballets in speedos while, obviously, sexually assaulting them afterwards

How does this keep on happening?

I have to admit being slightly obsessed with this topic in general, seeing that I know several people here whose family members are even now in actual cults and being badly affected by them- relating very relevantly also to the shooting of Shinzo Abe last year, whose killer wanted vengeance for his alleged connections with the Unification Church, draining his mother’s finances and which essentially left him an orphan ; also, one of my best British friends – an extremely intelligent, creative, and penetrating individual, herself spent 18 years in an Indian religious before extricating herself and seeing the light (she described the realization – the true realization, of how unwise she had been to believe the bullshit to the extent that she did, as an utter humiliation, deep in the soul, and mortification beyond description; far lower than the worst depression, and she had to claw her way back slowly up towards life again…a very long process indeed, even though now she is living a successful artistic life and can look back at it all more objectively. Getting dragged into these situations, losing your autonomy of thought is so extremely dangerous, but it seems that human beings just can’t resist the self-serving magnetizer.

“Wear nothing but orange and red!


(yet another riveting cult documentary on Netflix: “Wild Wild Country”)

To backtrack.

I wasn’t planning to write about cult leaders today.

I was actually planning to write about something completely different; the fact that I fell and damaged my knee on Monday night and have been off work all week – an accident that was completely my fault – but then realized that the two topics of conversation were in fact somehow connected (bear with me).

We were visiting a dancer friend and her boyfriend who were visiting from London and renting a posh traditional house on the hillside the other side of Kitakamakura station; a bit of an uphill walk for me to be honest (readers unfamiliar with my orthopedic travails can read about my stay in a Japanese hospital here), which may have stiffened my legs a bit; at any rate, no one said, after we had relaxed with drinks and snacks, that I had to go careening around the polished wooden floors slipperless at fast speed excitedly taking photos for potential friends who might want to come and stay in Japan nearby – it was a nice, atmospheric abode with shoji screens, an inner garden and a quite special ambience that I was trying to capture on my phone for future potential visitors not noticing the too high step in the genkan entrance that crashed down onto stone (the umeshu plum wine hadn’t helped either), sliding too quickly like a bad ice skater , and then before I knew it my left knee giving way – – I found myself flying in the air and crashing down on my left knee, crunching something interior in the process.

After a few stunned, then yelping moments, but realizing that the pain wasn’t excruciating (if you have ever broken a bone, you know how that feels; that particular throbbing of sharp dull pain that is immediately indicative of something fracturing or snapping), I willed myself to stand up and realized, with great relief, that I could walk on the joint. The next morning, however, I couldn’t, and my knee had really swollen up to the point where it was stuck and unbendable. I called work and told them I couldn’t come in – I didn’t even entertain the idea – lay on the bed all that day; the next, D came from work in a taxi in the early afternoon and then we went together to the hospital in Ofuna, although there were no doctors available (all in surgery); finally we went yesterday, where I had fluid removed and an x-ray, revealing that nothing serious had occurred; the swelling has gone down, although the Kill Bill-like sudden plunging of the syringes into the knee cap yesterday had me laughing out loud in shock at how violent it felt in the examination room – and I have to say that it is still rather painful today.

I contacted work, early in the morning, and they were very kind and understanding ; when I sent a picture of how swollen my left knee was and the diagnosis – meniscus tear and effusion, saying that I was told to rest it, not put weight on it, ice it etc – they were completely fine; take your time, don’t rush it, come back next week, they said – which is exactly what I have been doing. I need to let it heal so that I can get back on my feet (and on my bicycle).

The reason I am writing this rather mangled and disjointed piece, I suppose, is to talk about how very different it would be for my Japanese colleagues if they were in the same position. I know this from personal experience. Even though I woke up in pain on Tuesday morning, my leg locked like a crustacean and could do nothing but lie down, the other teachers, in the spirit of konjo, would have definitely strapped a painkilling bandage around the offending area and struggled with crutches off and on plain platforms and into the classrooms to do their duty no matter how dire the consequences to their health condition. Even though yesterday I had blinding pain searing through my body after the injections and water removal and could hardly think straight for a few moments as I hoped and prayed for a taxi to arrive outside the hospital, my co-teachers would have simply grinned and borne it and gone into work despite (because of?) the pain. One teacher recently fell through the gap between the train and the platform on the way to work, broke a couple of ribs, and must have been deeply shocked, but everyone smiled quietly when he valiantly, drugged up, having gone to the hospital, then dragged his way into the office, hauling himself up in front of his students to teach some maths equations. Bravo! Agonizing gout doesn’t stop people – in fact the extreme pain in the toes makes the disabling walk you have to do even more clear to others the effort you are making, despite your dolor; it is a badge of honour. I have seen a female colleague of mine once locked and stooped in terrible back pain, clearly in agony, but still ‘valiantly’ going into the classroom for a two hour lecture, sighing for our benefit; a man in his sixties with grimacable, palpable waves of shooting pain going through his teeth, coated in spiced, antiseptic liquid analgesics dripping onto his shirt collar going and teaching some useless and antiquated tedious textbook English grammar or other rather than just going home and getting better (ie seeing a dentist first). Only two weeks ago, one of my favourite people at work was suffering from a severe attack of vertigo (I had the same thing during the pandemic – probably the worst experience of my life, where I felt I was being hurtled through black space like a boomerang – it turned out many of the readers on The Black Narcissus had suffered from this at some point or other in their lives as well, but I am pretty sure that none of them would be moronic enough to go into the workplace in such a condition: my friend, bless him – but what an idiot – was grey in the face, almost keeling over, clutching onto surfaces to try and stand up straight, unable to see properly; really really suffering but still intent on teaching (why? what’s the point?) just because; naturally, no one around him was doing anything or even particularly seemed to notice (you ignore people in this situation in order to protect their dignity) ; I offered to help multiple times and then he finally allowed me to make him a strong natural brew of boiled stem ginger which I knew in advance could be of some help for the dizziness and the nausea – and it was- the point being though that he seriously should not have been there in the first place.

It will be obvious by now that there is a vast gulf between my own perception of what work means, the importance of self-preservation, and, well, sanity, and that of my J-colleagues (not all of them; there is a young guy who recently jumped at the chance to have his six weeks of paternity leave; I don’t think anyone believed he would have the cheek to actually take them, even though legally they are his right and I was delighted on his behalf; I have ‘sent him home’ before in the past when he was ill (“Er…. everyone….have you not noticed that Mr H is slumped on his desk, asleep with a high fever? Don’t you think he should have a Covid test and return to his house?) and he has willingly complied. He is certainly no martyr, and represents a younger generation that is perhaps more aware of basic human rights and is not quite as ingrained by ideas of self-negation or swamped inwardly with the death drive. But a large percentage of older people seem to literally want to suffer publicly, or at the very least are terrified of offending if they dare to actually prioritize themselves instead of their students, because taking a day off work is genuinely really shocking to many people, as though you have committed the ultimate sin (my logical answer to this being that we always have to make up for our lessons later with repeat lessons, so students don’t remotely lose out in any way- they are at worst mildly inconvenienced, in all reality probably just delighted they finally get a free hour or two to themselves; logically, there is no need for these profoundly masochistic displays of staggering, coughing, stoic wincing and sighing; the injured and unwell could instead just be at home; get better, and then come into work and do their lessons at a different time properly. I feel nothing but a deep and pitying disdain for such destructive behaviour (in truth, a broiling anger as well, which is probably coming across in the aggression manifested in this piece; I just can’t help it, although this might also stem from some of the passive aggressive ‘guilt of absence’ that I have let become ingrained in me from being here so long as well)

Just to repeat for clarification: nobody makes anyone behave like this. Legally, employees are largely protected. Everyone was extremely accommodating when I explained the situation to my J-bosses. And if someone is really unable to come in to work (say, if they have a stroke or a heart attack, no sorry I am getting nasty, but that is not far off the mark) then nobody will dispute it. But there is always, underneath, this insidious, unspoken understanding that you are supposed to somehow be like a soldier on the frontline and that you are abandoning your post and your fellow fighters if you give in to the cowardly spirit of self care when not well; this ‘samurai spirit’ of stamina or die is alive and well. The problem for me is that if you analyze what I see to be the reality of the situation, this just turns everyone into a huge, heaving ship of blithering fools.

Where the Sudanese doctor mentioned above has been very courageously putting her own life on the line to save those of other people who would die unless she did so, performing emergency caesarian sections and surgeries on both sides of the warring factions despite continuing death threats, prep/ cram school teachers are putting their own health at risk for a whole load of nothing. Just in order to teach some passively absorbed information, fiddly grammatical questions, that the students could be imbibing by themselves instead of being spoonfed. Of course, education itself is not nothing, and I take my responsibilities seriously to help students get into the universities of their choice – I happily sacrificed a few unpaid Sundays recently, for example, to do interview practice with some kids who were hoping to get into Tokyo Institute Of Foreign Studies (then again, I also get a bonus sometimes if everyone does well so it hardly makes me Jesu); Without the extra lessons, in all reality, they might not have passed – and that, after all, is what their hard working parents are paying us to do. I am aware of what is required of me, and do usually manage to deliver.

But now is May. The exams are nine months away. There is zero urgency to any of the studies. Things can be made up later. It is not difficult to catch up. There is no need to jeopardize your life or health for any of this baloney. I probably could have physically gone into work today, as I can walk almost normally, have no other problems, so could have sat down and just got on with it. But the doctor advised rest, as this is what leg injuries require (everyone knows this), and had I gone in on Tuesday or Wednesday, I could easily have risked falling again and being injured – with disastrous consequences. To me, the logic of 1. be ill 2. recover 3. then go back to work is irrefutable, and I categorically refuse to capitulate to the other way of thinking which is something along the lines of : 1. be ill 2. soldier through it and prolong the symptoms for no fucking reason whatsoever other than to be seen by others as heroic. 3 prolong the pain/ unwellness 4. eventually get through it but with a shining badge of otsukaresamadeshita pinned to your good boy lapel ……


Lest I be accused of Euro-centric cultural bias blah blah here and of not properly understanding this culture – I praise everything I love about Japan quite frequently here, and there is much to love, even revere, which is why we still live in the country – but I also reserve the right to call out what is shit whenever I feel like it – let’s bring in dead old pervert Johnny Kitagawa above, the music mogul and sexual predator behind pop goliath Johnny’s & Associates, who forced himself upon generations of handsome young boys and men in the same way as Harvey Weinstein did with women in Hollywood, a sickness that is so pervasive, everywhere – do this to get to the top else forget it – causing unbelievable trauma to untold legions of male pop stars and TV personalities who are only now coming forward with their stories and which will surely become a proper societal debacle; just like all the other cult leader assholes mentioned above, this is yet again an example of a malignant narcissist realizing his sordid needs by unscrupulously utilizing the minds and bodies of other people without any thought of the damage caused to them. In other words, just the ‘usual monster’.

Why do I mention Johnny, you wonder? In reality, there is no real connection between the pathetic situation I have been describing in terms of willing martyrdom at the workplace, where people are mindlessly sacrificing themselves in order to help others, rather than hurt them – and the legions of amoral and sick sexual predators. They are in fact polar opposites. I mention this only because it took a BBC reporter, Mobeen Azhar, an outsider, a non-Japanese person, to shed a much needed light on the situation, which has been an open secret for decades, but because of entrenched business related entanglements no one was willing to discuss openly (Japanese culture despises being exposed in this way by foreigners as it amounts to an extreme loss of face). Only now is there much hand-wringing in the press and social media as victims come forward and broach the tip of the vile iceberg; probably, though there have been brave attempts by some sections of the Japanese media to bring Kitagawa and his associates to justice for decades, even back in 1965- a futile attempt that was described as being like an ant biting an elephant – but if it hadn’t been for outside interference, the ‘revelations’ that are currently rocking Japan would never have happened. The media was finally forced to self-examine as the truth was already out there on the international web. This society is a very insular one, dare I say it even conspiratorial when it comes to maintaining the status quo and protected invested interests, even when that state of play is blatantly wrong (as with the Minamata disease mercury poisoning disaster, another atrocious scandal only made public when the American photographer Eugene Smith – urged by Japanese contacts – managed to bring about an exposé for Magnum photos, after which it was impossible for the corrupted and self serving business interests to escape scrutiny any further).

What I am trying to say is not that Japanese people can’t solve their own problems by themselves (in some erroneous and cancellable White Saviour moment of ‘Neil Knows Best’),

which they obviously can and do, if often at an exasperatingly slow pace from my own personal perspective, but I do also think that there is also nothing wrong with someone from outside, but also within, the system, commenting intelligently on aspects of society that are blatantly ridiculous in order to provoke discussion. Now is May : perhaps the most beautiful month in Japan, when the new green of late Spring is ecstatically beautiful; the sky, after the rains, the most rigorously clear blue you can imagine; flowers everywhere, summer coming, beautiful scents, a strong sense of life blooming and of possibility. Yet now is also, famously, the time of ‘Gogatsubyo’, or May Disease, when the suicide rate increases because the one decent holiday people have is over and students, teachers, salaried workers and all the rest of The Exhausted, just can’t face another year of grinding toil without enough free time and therefore decide to just end it all by jumping on the railtracks. I wrote an unflinching account of a local suicide in October of last year on here that I wasn’t able to reread because I felt it all too keenly but just had to get out of me (the train delays do often seem to happen on Wednesdays, day of Woe), but in the piece, I definitely did make specific linkages between the tragically high level of people taking their own lives and the sadomasochistic ‘work ethic’ of Japan that undeniably causes the suicides in the first place.

It is fine working hard; it is good to work hard, otherwise everything in the world would just sink into shite, but at the same time, it is also up to those in positions of responsibility to reject the overly punishing societal tenets of what constitutes ‘a good worker’. If you are a boss and you see someone struggling, practically unable to stand up by themselves, dizzy and pallid, white with pain, then you shouldn’t, in my view, applaud their ‘bravery’ and rectitude for doing their ‘duty’, but instead just send them home. Rather than a vicious cycle of baseless exhaustion, this would create a more humane, healthy environment in which people would know they have the security of restoration when needed, but can work quite happily in the meantime (I have been really enjoying my interactions with my students recently – it is an intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually quite stimulating job a lot of the time). You wouldn’t then have a situation in which one of my iller colleagues, a man I like in many ways but who really does take the title for Most Conspicuous Martyr that I know (“I was told by the doctors that my health situation is very bad and that I need to spend a month in hospital, but I can’t, because I am too busy”) – ooh clap clap, how martyrous you are!! !! – – is effusively willing to deny himself the healthcare he needs, despite the fact that he has two young children that he adores and needs to stay alive for, and despite the fact that the company itself would obviously allow him to take the time off if needed, but instead deliberately works himself into the ground while making sure everyone sees him doing this while he is in the process of self destruction. I try to persuade him to be more self-respecting and he does seem to listen, but then does nothing about it. The tendency is far too deeply osmosed, but it is exasperating because he is an extremely intelligent (and sensitive) person. The ball really is in his own court. And the company itself would actually also accommodate his situation quite easily; some employees take months, even a year off to recover from depression and nervous conditions and they are welcomed back without fuss; Japan is becoming less cruel in the workplace; employees are beginning to have more of a sense of self worth that isn’t completely tied to the corporation; so it isn’t so much the exterior requirements of companies making people behave like this a lot of the time, but the unquestioned cultural assumptions learned from childhood that plague individuals at the cellular, marrow level.

What can be done? You can’t change whole societies, well some people can even if I can’t – but as a teacher or writer you can at the very least impart your way of thinking to other human beings, present alternative possibilities of viewing the world and the society you live in, encourage other perspectives, particularly the ability to analyze cultural poisons rationally in order to live more freely (in the way that British teachers have been discussing the extreme dangers of the misogynistic influencer Andrew Tate). I have warned my students about religious cults, who stalk university campuses enlisting new, very vulnerable, recruits at the beginning of school years by luring them into ‘International Study Groups’ and the like but actually begin the brainwashing immediately, sometimes resulting in decades of entrapment; we have studied articles written by escapees who came to see the light. I wasn’t fearmongering, just presenting their individual accounts. I tell them about my own lifestyle; four days a week; part time with a lot of holidays, giving me room for other things, about the fact that I truly believe, well, it is a scientific fact, that human beings need rest and recuperation in order to function properly and that if they also feel this way then in the future they should seek out employment opportunities that offer this rather than just resigning themselves to a life of slavery; that, unless I need to stay late, I clock out at the exact time I am allowed to leave because I have worked hard that day and see no reason to hang around just to be clocked by others as a ‘hardworker’ (I have been told many times that I am an empath but also selfish, which is probably true; my masochistic tendencies are pretty negligible to be honest; I like helping people but am really not much of an auto-crucifier). The point is, I just want the students I teach to be able to see through obviously unhealthy and questionable ideas that are assumed by the masses to be correct; to question everything they are told; to decide for themselves whether what they are being told makes actual sense. To value themselves and their own instincts no matter what society says. To have the strength to resist. To logically evaluate what is told or expected from without and accept, or refute it, according to their heads and hearts and intuition. In short, in order not to fall prey to miserable situations that put their health and lives needlessly at risk : to THINK.


Filed under Flowers


  1. And I LOVED ‘Wild Wild Country’, SO compelling.

    The colleague with tooth pain though! such an awful pain, impossible to distract yourself from. Such a hilariously (sorry colleague) vivid image you conjure!

  2. This waas the first comment I tried to post, but inexplicably it didn’t appear:
    So fascinaating and infuriating. I didn’t get any sense of anger from your words until about two thirds of the way through, you have more inbuilt restraint than you realise now I think (years of living in Japan). It really is so different isn’t it. Where I work there are those who always have to be seen to be the first in and the last out – last week one staff member was seen by another, (who had to be in at 6.45am for a particular reason that day) running at great speed from her car, having grabbed what she thought were her work things, in order to arrive at her desk and stare at her (blank) computer screen first; the bags she had grabbed were in fact some supermarket shopping that she had done on her way in and she had to trduge back to her car to swap them shortly afterwards. It made us laugh alot. Some nights I am at work late because I WANT to finish something, usually something creative that I am enjoying, it is literally just me, the cleaners and this same person, sat staring at her screen, weird and comical. But when she had a hip replacement she took some time off.

    The work culture you ae describing is so interwoven, with so many other aspects of Japanese life and psyche, it is hard to imagine it ever changing, but equally the global nature of young peoples’ lives and communication now must surely lead to, at the very least, a slow erosion of this.

    Co-incidentally I am part way through reading ‘Convenience Store Woman’ by Sayaka Murata at the moment. It is only a short, lighthearted (so far) book – an account of a woman who loves being a perfectly functioning cog, in the machinery of the convenience store that she has been working in for 30+ years. She has zero cynicism and delights in the daily routines; it is also clearly the depiction of an autistic person though. I will let you know if it offers any insights or raises any interesting questions.

    I am very glad to hear that the plum wine didn’t lead to any lasting knee damage by the way. Please be careful, this was a warning shot.

  3. Sorry to hear you hurt your knee again! I hope it’s much better by next week. At my last couple of jobs, leaving on time was rare and frowned upon, because almost no one had the luxury. There was always too much work and although deadlines often seemed arbitrary (the worst kind was when we wanted to get something to a client for review before they went on vacation, even though the actual deadline was later), it was impossible to change the culture. Thankfully, my current situation is a night-and-day difference from that.
    I don’t have any experience with cults but I have experienced how easy it is to change from being a confident, relatively intelligent person to one who doubts every thought and intuition, such that “to THINK” as you say at the end is no longer doable once a manipulator has convinced the person that their own thoughts, feelings, opinions, and motivations cannot be relied upon. A combination of having no previous experience with such a manipulator and having a physical or emotional disadvantage that already causes doubt or insecurity… and it’s not hard for them to get a foothold and start eroding a person’s confidence and rational thought processes.
    The martyr mentality can also be used to manipulate people, especially when those people are supposedly on the receiving end of the benefit of the martyrdom. You owe me because I did all this for you despite the great cost to me, etc.
    Anyway, I’m rambling. I do hope your students are more empowered by your example.

    • You are not rambling at all and I find all of this very illuminating and fascinating: it gives me a different perspective on what I was writing about, which all came out in one go without much reflection, just gut reactions.

      You are right: there is a danger in presenting people who have fallen victim to manipulators or cults as total fools, when it is probably more that a malicious but charismatic individual cunningly knows just exactly how to get into people’s vulnerable grooves and keeps cutting deeper until the person no longer has agency and just submits. I think this is why I mentioned the example of my friend who was lost for years in a cult – it’s hard to fathom that someone so intelligent and analytical could fall prey to a ‘guru’ the way she did; on the other hand, I totally understand people who are looking for more from life than the shallow materialism we are expected to be satisfied by and turn towards religion: I have always been looking for ‘answers’ myself, but I think that my own perspective – that were a religion to be real, it would have to embrace ALL of humanity as this ‘God’ presumably would not be racist or limit their benefaction to just one tribe or people when the deity created EVERYONE in the first place: this makes it very easy for me to reject all organized religions and especially cults – which are just ABSURD; why aren’t people more clued up about the phenomenon beforehand (this is where all these documentaries come in very handy and are important – the more you watch, the less possibility there is of you being sucked into any cult bullshit because you would be on your guard in the first place. Again, education, information is definitely key.

      PS glad you got out of what sounds like a very stressful job situation and are in a much better one now.

  4. It’s not just the Red Cross, Red Crescent, & MSF that require self sacrifice and martyrdom- it’s the entire healthcare culture globally. It’s called presenteeism, when an employee is pressured to be at work despite being unwell. That was drummed into our heads in pharmacy school- if we wanted to be part of the medical team. We did 12 to 36 hour shifts right along the medical students even if we were sick. Ridiculous. That bs continued when I became a pharmacist. Working 9 days straight with 10-12 hour shifts on weekends. Ugh. Like you knew if you called in sick the other pharmacist would be pulling double because it’s too expensive for the pharmacy to get a sub pharmacist. How I did that for 15 years I don’t know. The only sick time I ever had was 10 days when I got chicken pox at 32 years old, my boss called every day asking when I could come in (despite me being contagious and covered in pustules).
    The cult thing freaks me out too, especially here in South Asia where religious fervor is so common and socially admired. Horror stories abound of gurus taking advantage of their followers.
    Hope your knee heals quickly, falls aren’t to be taken lightly at our age!

    • They certainly aren’t – trying not to get depressed about it.

      As for healthcare, yes of course – as I was leaving the hospital the other day I was looking at the physiotherapists doing their work and remembering how wonderful they were to me when I was hospitalized as well as the fact that they had hardly any holidays and were not particularly well paid. Hats off to you and everyone else who sacrifices themselves to help others in this way – I just so wish it didn’t have to be SO exhausting and that everyone had the universal right to more holiday (a stupidly idealistic thing to say I know). I honestly don’t know how you could have done it, working those hours: as will be very apparent, I am just too hyperneurotic and easily stimulated to work the kind of hours you are mentioning – it would be literally impossible – something terrible would definitely happen.

    • You bring up some points, actually, that make me want to re-evaluate or qualify what I wrote here : although teachers at my school can often do repeat lessons, in some cases other teachers, if they are absent, have to ‘cover’ their lessons and have huge classes, which is quite stressful. As Japanese culture is so heavily based on the idea of not causing trouble to others, it is understandable that people would avoid, as far as possible, having to be absent from work. Plus, it occurred to me after writing this, days off (usually one a week) are so precious to teachers that they would almost rather just ‘get through’ the lessons, even in a terrible health state ,than have to give up their own free time.

      Having said that, the LEVELS of conspicuous martyrdom I describe here are exactly right:sometimes they really, obviously, SHOULD NOT be in the workplace. It’s funny – I think that Covid was a beautiful blessing in many ways here: probably the only time ever that people could legitimately be off work: you weren’t ALLOWED to come in to the office for risk of contagion, so some people were able to stay at home for a week to ten days simply because a family member was infected : it must have felt like absolute bliss.

      • Curiously, it has been consistently shown in many studies that healthcare workers who come to work sick or overly tired (due to long shifts or no breaks) actually make more mistakes- possibly endangering patients’ lives. Yet the culture of presenteeism persists in healthcare.

      • Very curious ….

        So infuriating !

  5. georgemarrows

    On the topic of cults, this is a good listen, even if the I’m-an-investigative-podcast stylings are at times overdone. The level of psychological pressure applied is obscene.

    Also on BBC Sounds.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s