A great Japanese word: 脱サラ (dassara) –– getting away from The Grind

By | January 16, 2019

I’m sure many people are working full time for a company that they don’t own any part of, getting paid on a periodic rate based on a set contract. And I’m also willing to bet that a good portion of those people wish they could go independent and become their own boss, choosing what and when they work based on their desires.

In English, I can’t think of any phrases that perfectly describe this sort of career transition. The best I can think of is words like “self-employed” and phrases like “go independent”.

Now, in Japanese there is the term 脱サラ (dassara) which means exactly that––leaving a company and becoming your own boss. I have seen this term’s pronunciation also described as datsusara, though I think dassara is much more common (and also easier to pronounce)

The 脱 (datsu) part has several meanings, including “to separate” or “to escape”. You can see it used in words like 脱毛 (datsumou), which means “hair removal”, or 脱出 (dasshutsu), which means “to escape” (often from some unpleasant place like jail).

The サラ (sara) part of this term is an abbreviation of the word サラリーマン (sarariiman), which comes from “Salary man”. It indicates someone who is a company employee or works on a salary. While this term can be used in a neutral sense, I felt it is often used with a certain negative connotation. While I am sure many people can make a nice living being a salaried worker, it is arguably not the ideal work situation.

The word dassara can be used as a noun as-is, or as a verb with suru. Here is an example of the latter:

  • 脱サラするにはどうしたらいいんですか? (dassara suru ni wa dou shitara ii n desu ka?)
  • What should I do in order to leave my job and become self-employed?

While I myself have thoughts of someday achieving dassara, there are certainly many risks involved and difficulties that are not present in a typical salaried day job.

But it’s really nice that Japanese has a word to concisely describe this!

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