Sleepy Japanese People – Dont Sleep on Me
The Japanese sleep everywhere. It’s actually quite amazing and it was something I didn’t expect when I first came to Japan.
If I were to ask you what Japan is famous for, what would you say?
If you ask most people outside of Japan this question, you will most likely get answers like samurai, ninja, geisha, sumo, hello kitty, etc… If you ask people living in the country, someone is bound to bring up the incredible and undeniable ability that Japanese people have to sleep anywhere and in any position.
Japanese people seem to have no qualms with sleeping in public, and with even the most minimal amount of research, one can pull up countless blogs, articles, youtube videos and more….
In fact just for good measure, here is a list of a few of my favorite posts:
A great post that not only features some very interesting photos,
but also breaks them down into interestingly named categories!
An interesting post with some really good shots of J-Sleepers
A great set of photos with an opener that would almost encourage giving it a try~
Another decent photo post of Japanese people sleeping in public
*Spoiler Alert* – Last pic is not for the weak-of-stomach…
All of these illustrate the point pretty well. And I have quite the collection of my own photos that I may get around to adding to this post in the near future.
As you can see, Japanese people have managed to do what they have done with so many other simple daily tasks and actions and get the whole sleeping in public skill down to an incomparable art form. We can try to mimic it, but we will never do it quite as well, or in such impressive numbers.
So a fair question to be asking at this point is, ‘if you’re so for Japanese people passing out in public, then where’s the problem?’
The problem lies in that while I may get a hoot out of seeing Japanese people passed out on the streets, trains, toilets, temples, and whatever other locations they choose for their one-man slumber parties, I have no patience for that ever so infamous moment when the person sitting beside me on the train passes out and figures it a good idea to utilize me as their pillow…
Simply put, I do not like when people fall asleep on me on the train.
Most Japanese people will tell you there are 3 common ways of reacting to this situation.
a) Act as if nothing is happening at all (or even accommodate the sleeper in some way)
b) Get uncomfortable and discreetly try and either get away, or move the sleeper
c) Move or wake-up the sleeper with little-to-no hesitation
I would safely fall under category (c).
Now don’t get me wrong… It’s not that I don’t appreciate the warm sentiment or that I hate human contact, but rather that I find it unbelievably rude and inconsiderate. I am shocked that in a country where it is custom that while riding a train, you speak in a quiet voice, and never use your cellphone, that people find it A-OK to just pass out on the people around them.
Actually, there was an exact moment that triggered this post.
It was a short while ago, and I was on the morning train with one of my Japanese co-workers. We had been on the train for about 10 minutes when the girl beside me started to lean my way. She was a young girl, probably in her mid-20′s. She had the big hair, the fake eyelashes, the platform heels, and that smell that usually only comes from someone who has been out all-night and is making an early-morning return to their 1-room apartment after.
As she started to slowly lean my way, I knew I was in an undesirable position…
In any normal situation, I would have just nudged her and woken her up. Or maybe even changed seats. But this day was different.
I had a Japanese co-worker with me, and if you have read my post about working with Japanese people, you can understand that the last thing I wanted was to lose face.
And so… I let her sleep.
But at what cost? Really… What could the danger be… right?
Well, it turns out that the danger was that this wonderful young lady, was kind enough to share some of her make-up. With my suit.
But it’s ok right? Because I managed to save face with this Japanese co-worker.
Or at least that’s how I tried to view it.
Until we got to work and the rest of the Japanese staff spent the day staring at the make-up stain…
Did anyone say anything to me about it? – No.
Did my morning comrade have the decency to explain about it? – No.
So I’m pretty sure we can all guess what they were thinking….
All of this undue stress combined with the cleaning bill for my jacket, and you have to wonder,
How has this become a social norm in a country where people typically go out of their way to avoid bothering others?!
You have to stop and wonder at some point whether or not it is all really an accident.
I watched to strangers fall asleep on each other just the other night, and as the train ride went on, they seemed to be getting more and more comfortable with each other. It was a Tuesday night, it was fairly early, and neither one of them seemed to be intoxicated…
The girl fell asleep first. Her head slowly fell to the guys shoulder. And then, magically the guy started to fall asleep as well. Within seconds, her head was on his shoulder, and his head was resting on hers.
They stayed like this for a good 20 minutes or more, and the longer they stayed in that position, the more suspicious the whole thing became…
If you think about it. Even when people do fall asleep on the train, they usually wake up (or at least half wake up) at each station. Right?
So how is it that neither one of these 2 woke up even once in the span of over 10 stations…?
When I first released this post, there was a lot of comments by people who said that they didn’t mind as long as the person who fell asleep on them in the train was both, of the opposite gender, and attractive. So I talked to a few of my friends and co-workers and found that a large majority of people here in Japan feel this way.
“it’s not crazy to imagine that some people might actually enjoy the physical contact. Even if it IS from a stranger“, Said one of my co-workers.
But in the end, it’s still not for me. So Dear Japan, please don’t sleep on me.