Photo/IllutrationPicture storybook “Yama no Kaisha” (Company in the mountains) (Provided by Fukuinkan Shoten)

Hogeta-san, a company worker, has overslept as usual. Forgetting to don his glasses and take his bag, he rushes out of the door in his bedroom slippers.

At the train station, he mistakenly jumps on a train going in the opposite direction from his company. When the train reaches its last stop in the mountains, he tells himself, "Now that I'm here, I think I'll go to the company in the mountains."

The above is from "Yama no Kaisha" (Company in the mountains), a picture storybook written by Koji Suzuki and illustrated by Ken Katayama. The protagonist's easygoing, freewheeling ways make me envious.

Hogeta-san runs into his colleague, Hoisa-kun. Together, they decide that the peak of the mountain is their company, and get down to work. The work, however, consists entirely of gazing at the scenery.

A little while later, the company president shows up with more workers in tow.

Like a bunch of kids, they start playing musical instruments, cavorting with bears, and having a picnic.

After an enjoyable time, the president and the workers decide to go back to town. The reason is that the company in the mountains "isn't making any money at all."

For anyone who was able to take days off this summer and relax, those were the days they spent at their "company in the mountains."

It doesn't matter where they went or what they did--hiking in the mountains, lying on a beach, traveling overseas, or just lazing around at home, whatever.

But inevitably, the day comes when they have to return to their workaday routine.

For some, finished with their holiday travels or family visits in their hometowns, today may be that day. The commute will feel more bothersome than usual, and the hours at work interminably long.

Even though the enervating heat of this summer has abated considerably, it's still hot. We'll just have to keep going, trying to cheer ourselves with thoughts of the next holiday.

In the story, Hogeta-san and Hoisa-kun remain in the mountains. They are apparently happy there and doing well.

Even when we become swamped with work for days on end, it would be good to return to the company in the mountains from time to time, at least in thought.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 20

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.