Japanese workers, the tobi shokunin

I have long had a fascination for construction sites, in front of which, I dive into an abyss of questions about human genius. Currently, construction compagnies are blooming in Tokyo – a good way to restart an economy – and construction sites are sprouting up around my home.

(A video Gangnam style hides in this article).

tobi shokunin

Despite the boom of the construction industry, Japan is threaten by a labor shortage, after a decline of number of construction workers (- 26% in 17 years). This causes a serious impact on construction methods and materials.

The Olympics Games of 2020 is pressuring the market, and the Japanese government as well. Without choice, Japan opens its doors – slowly – to foreign labor (skilled). In a country that strictly controls its borders, and where foreigners are only 1,6% of population, the government has to make a move – but reminds us that is it not a change of the overall immigration politic. The new visa should be released in 2015, and will allow 70,000 foreign workers to enter the Japanese labor market – after 3 years minimum experience in their country of origin, and for a fixed period.

I must say that despite the lack of some 150,000 workers in the coming months, the government does not act on issues of safety regarding construction work. Young people do not want to enter a market dominated by 3K (in Japanese) sector: dangerous (kiken 危 険), difficult (kitsui き つ い), irty (kitanai 汚 い dirty).

In Japanese society, white collar or blue collar, the uniform rules. And the coolest of all is tobi shokunin‘s one, these workers who are working on skyscrapers, and mostly in high places.

At first glance, one might think they are pilots or characters of a science fiction movie. The “Tobi” clothing company, referring to the typical baggy pants called tobi – which is absolutely not traditional, specializing in the uniform of construction workers in Japan has created in 2008 a series of photo to its catalog

(photo credits)

And just for joy, YouTube being such a great place to widen your mind:


17 October 2014


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