On Part-time Jobs
On Part-time Jobs
by Haruki Murakami
Translated by Christopher Allison
When I was a student, which was more than ten years ago now, the
average hourly wage for part-time work was about the same as a cup
of coffee in an average coffee shop. To make it plain, at the end of
the 1960's it was about 150 yen. “Hi-Lite” cost 80 yen, and comic
books were about 100 yen. Since I just bought records with the money
I made working, I could buy one record for every day-and-a-half of
Now, compared to a 300 yen cup of coffee, the standard wage for part
time work is 500 yen. It looks as though the market price has
changed a little. You can buy two records with one day's labor.
If you just look at the numbers, it seems like our standard of
living has gotten better in those ten years. From a lifestyle
point-of-view, though, I don't think things have really improved. In
the old days, housewives didn't have to take part time jobs, and
there was no loan-repayment hell.
Numbers are really complicated. You can't always trust what the
General Accounting Office tells you. GNP is a total sham. If they
plopped GNP down in the west entrance of Shinjuku Station and let
anyone who wanted to come up and touch it then I might have some
faith in it. But short of that, I can't trust anything with so
In this respect, I think Kenichiro Takemura (politico-economic
pundit) and Kakuei Tanaka (former prime-minister) are amazing. Those
guys, knowing fully that their figures were dubious, chose only to
use numbers that said the situation was fine. If used only to that
extent, well, just one notebook will suffice.
Anyway, I still remember the records that I bought with the money
from the part-time job of my school days, and how I listened to them
devotedly. But it wasn't their number or their volume that really
mattered; the important thing was their quality.