At 17:00, another chime signals the end of the day. But you won’t see many workers get up. At 21:00, a final bell tells workers they should really, finally go home. Still, many workers remain.
Kobe Mayor Kizō Hisamoto says he hopes to change that. He says he supports the idea of Premium Friday and the effort to reduce the workload. But his City Hall employees won’t be partaking.
“We have a responsibility to fulfil the requests from the public,” Hisamoto says. Instead, he says he has begun working to reduce the number of overtime hours clocked by employees.
So far, 130 firms have reported that they would participate, according to Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. But the government hasn’t collected information on how those companies would participate and whether they would allow all of their workers to take time off.
At Hattori’s PR firm, work didn’t slow down just because workers were logging off. On the contrary, Hattori found himself flooded with calls on the first Premium Friday. So as all of his colleagues filed out to the football pitch or to bars, Hattori found himself still at his desk. “Yes,” he admits, “I had to work.”
In March, however, the entire office closed for Premium Friday. This time, the company didn’t need to give bonuses to encourage everyone to go home, although salaried and hourly workers were paid as if they were still on the clock. Hattori says he and his colleagues went drinking, took in a movie, or went to the beauty salon.
Hattori had esteemed company in Premium Friday this month. The prime minister left the office at 3pm sharp for a weekend away, according to local media reports, the first time he had done so since his holiday in August.
To comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Capital, please head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.