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3 Japanese movies that will motivate you at work

New on the job? Worry not, everyone has been there at some point!

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With the new fiscal and academic year starting in April, the month of beautiful spring flowers marks a new beginning for many people in Japan: moving to a new city, starting a new school, changing positions at work — or, as in the case of many young graduates — bidding goodbye to a carefree school life and joining the labor force. New life, however, often means bumpy roads, especially for those who are going through corporate adulthood for the first time. If you’ve just started a new job yourself, or feel stuck in a crossroad at work, watch these three Japanese for a quick motivation boost and a reminder that there will always be better days!

1. Oz Land (オズランド 笑顔の魔法おしえます), 2018

Newly graduated, in love, and with a job offer from a prestigious hotel company, Kurumi Namihira (Haru) can’t wait to start her new life journey. Employed by the same company as her boyfriend, the future looked all set: the two would enjoy a Tokyo business life, quickly learn the ins and outs and eventually land elite positions.

Fate, however, had something else in mind: instead of launching a high-end position at the hotel, Kurumi is assigned to work at an amusement park in a small countryside town where Oz Land is pretty much the only entertainment. Far from home, her boyfriend and anything she has ever imagined for her career, Kurumi finds herself busy with things she “never went to college for”: collecting garbage, dealing with whining customers and wearing a silly uniform instead of a business suit.

What follows is a lot of tears, anger and hopes of going back to Tokyo where “ideal life” awaits. But one day, Kurumi begins observing her coworkers’ work dedication from an entirely new perspective, quickly realizing that there’s a correlation between their deets and the ever-growing numbers of visitors to the park…

Cast: Haru, Hidetoshi Nishijima
Director: Takafumi Hatano

2. Happy Flight (ハッピーフライト), 2008

New or veteran on the job, there are days when all hell breaks loose. Such is the setting for our protagonist, Etsuko Saito (Haruka Ayase), a new-on-the-job cabin attendant on a flight from Tokyo to Honolulu. About to board her very first international flight, Etsuko is full of expectations but also nerves, which causes her to start the day in the worst possible way: being late and reprimanded by her senior. The unlucky events don’t end there, however, and Etsuko’s on-the-job-training flight turns out to be as bumpy as it could: she makes a series of mistakes that leave customers unhappy, is continuously scolded by her crew, and on top of all, the flight itself turns out to be an unexpectedly dangerous one. But just as she’s beginning to lose all her confidence, things take another turn and Etsuko’s special cooking skills suddenly come in handy to save the day. After many tears, she is able to regain her self esteem and her crew’s respect.

Cast: Haruka Ayase, Shinobu Terajima, Saburo Tokito
Director: Shinobu Yaguchi

3. Wood Job, 2014

After miserably failing at his university entrance exam and his relationship, Yuki Hirano (Shota Sometani) is set to start anew — preferably far away from his current environment, and preferably doing something just for the sake of doing it, because, quite frankly, he couldn’t care any less at this stage of his life. By chance, he stumbles upon a brochure with a beautiful girl on the cover advertising a forestry training program, and he decides to go for it — in search of the pretty girl.

Down in the woods, however, things are not as easy as he thinks and his lack of care only calls for trouble. Suddenly he finds himself surrounded by nothing but trees, tons of work, and a team of hard-working men who, naturally, have high expectations of him. Following a series of failures, however, the harder he tries, the better he gets in learning to respect the forest — and the people who work for it. On his way to becoming a new man, he realizes that up until now he was lacking one very crucial thing in life: passion.

Cast: Shota Sometani, Masami Nagasawa, Hideaki Ito
Director: Shinobu Yaguchi

Through much laughter and cry, failures and successes, these three movies remind us that there is no easy job, and that none of us is perfect. Sometimes, the start is bumpy, sometimes there are days when nothing goes well. When this happens, take a deep breath and tell yourself that if you love what you do there will always be better days!

Text by: Rose Haneda