愛知で新聞屋の寮生活 Life in a Dormitory of a Newspaper Company in Aichi.

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I have moved more than 40 times in my life so far. I have also lived in four different countries. In the Kanto region, I have lived in every prefecture except for Ibaraki. Apart from that, I have also lived in Aichi prefecture. In Nagoya, Aichi, I experienced a very impoverished lifestyle, and in Gunma, I lived in a prefabricated hut. I would like to share those experiences at some point, but for now, let me tell you about my time living in Okazaki, Aichi.


As a child, I was a fan of the Chunichi Dragons baseball team, so I somehow felt a sense of familiarity with Aichi prefecture. Aichi is home to numerous factories, including Toyota and others, offering a variety of job opportunities. Recruitment magazines and part-time job listings in Aichi used to be almost one and a half times thicker than those in Tokyo (this was more than 10 years ago).


People in Aichi are often perceived as being a bit reserved and difficult to approach until they consider you a part of their group. However, once you establish a good relationship, they are incredibly welcoming. I used to work in newspaper sales in Aichi. More than 90% of newspapers in Aichi are from the Chunichi Shimbun company, which further reflects their strong local presence. Although I worked for a different newspaper company (which, to be honest, I dislike a lot now), I found it quite challenging to persuade people to switch from Chunichi to our paper.


During the sales pitch, I would first ask if the person subscribed to a newspaper. When they responded positively, it usually meant they were referring to the Chunichi Shimbun. Therefore, convincing them to switch to another paper was quite difficult. I lived in the company’s dormitory, and I heard that the previous resident of my room, who struggled to secure contracts, had attempted suicide in that very room.


Hearing that story made me feel uneasy, so I placed salt in the four corners of the room. There was about a week between the interview and moving into the dormitory. During the interview, when the president asked me how much money I had, I honestly answered that I had around 60,000 to 70,000 yen. He seemed impressed, thinking that I must be well-off. Furthermore, he said, “If you run out of money, don’t worry! You can earn as much as you want here!” When it was time to move into the dormitory, however, I had only 4,000 yen left. When I told the president about it, he burst into laughter. It’s not that I want to sound pompous, but in interviews for jobs based on full commission, I often hear that it’s an excellent opportunity, contrary to the reality.


Normally, selling newspapers doesn’t lead to earning a substantial income. However, some people who excel in sales can indeed earn a lot. When you secure a contract for selling newspapers, the salesperson receives a portion of the contract fee and transportation expenses from the sales outlet on the same day. Due to my lack of funds, I had to earn enough for living expenses as well, so I was truly desperate.


In Aichi, there are areas, often rural and surrounded by mountains, where the Chunichi newspaper dominates more than 95% of the market. In these areas, once a month or so, a few top salespeople are assigned from different locations, and they are given higher contract fees and engage in intensified sales efforts. During those three days of intensified sales, I consistently managed to secure contracts, surpassing the previous records. It was a good memory, as I received a decent amount of money during that time.


In Aichi, there is also a significant population of Brazilians. You can easily recognize Brazilians by their method of hanging laundry using clotheslines. Moreover, among the employees, there were many individuals who didn’t strictly adhere to conventional norms and seemed to have dabbled in the realm of outlaws in the past.


I don’t mean to boast, but my sales performance was good, so even after I quit, the president called me several times asking me to come back. Among those conversations, one particular statement stood out: the president mentioned that they could arrange for a woman to be assigned to me if I returned. It made me realize how shady that industry can be. It’s quite alarming, isn’t it?


However, looking back now, it’s just a distant memory (although I hardly remember it). Aichi is known for various specialties such as misokatsu (deep-fried pork cutlet with miso sauce), misonikomi (thick udon noodles in miso soup), tebasaki (Nagoya-style chicken wings), uirou (a type of traditional Japanese confectionery), and Nanachan dolls, among others. If I have the opportunity, I would like to visit Aichi. Well, probably.

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