Inemuri – Japanese napping in public places

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Have you ever come across some video or image of a Japanese sleeping extremely unimaginablely on some train from Japan? In this article we will talk about Inemuri, the famous Japanese nap.

The word Inemuri can refer to any nap taken by Japanese in public places, at work and especially on trains that is very common and frequent. Even I’ve had a chance to try that nap.

The Meaning of Inemuri

Inemuri [居眠り] is a Japanese word that literally means sleeping as a gift. It can be translated as sleeping awake, taking a nap, sleeping sitting or taking a nap.

Inemuri refers mainly to the act of sleeping during an activity. This word involves closing your eyes without failing to pay attention to your return, whether at work, in class, meetings, events or trains. Not that that’s always the case.

Inemuri - Japanese napping in public places

The inemuri is a light nap, the simple act of closing your eyes, sitting or standing. It refers mainly to polyphase sleep, small short naps of 20 minutes that if applied several hours is equivalent to good sleep.

Some words can be derived from Inemuri as in the case of the word sleep behind the wheel that in Japanese is said inemuriunten [居眠り運転]. The word can also be an inemuru [居眠る] verb that means napping and postponing.

Japanese sleeping in public places

Being seen sleeping in public is not a problem in Japan, the practice has been common for thousands of years. People sleep anywhere, from trains, shops, restaurants, cafes and even on benches and sidewalks.

Inemuri - Japanese napping in public places

In some cases it is not a quick nap. Most cases of stretched Japanese sleeping on the street are drunk people or who missed the last train. In the worst case, he could be a homeless man.

Still, the Japanese just don’t mind sleeping anywhere public. Other Japanese who are present on site simply don’t usually bother and just ignore it.

Inemuri - Japanese napping in public places

Do you think some can sleep until they cut their hair? In some colleges it is common to find children sleeping during class, and the most that happens is a sensei ear pull or a nudge.

At school you don’t usually get mocked by your classmates or usually go to the secretary to take a warning for sleeping. Of course there are limits on how much and how you nap, snoring is already a big problem.

Japanese sleeping on trains

It is very common to find people sleeping on japan trains. Some sleep standing, others seem to be focused on posture, but are asleep.

Inemuri - Japanese napping in public places

Others pass the limit and end up stretching, lying down and rolling inside the train, and it is necessary to give a nudge. Most people practice inemuri on trains, one hour or another, I’ve done it myself.

Train trips are very relaxing and usually sleep. No matter how I slept all night, I’ve had a coke on a train. It’s like riding a train in Japan is like watching ASMR videos.

Inemuri - Japanese napping in public places

Inemuri’s practice has decreased more and more, especially on trains, thanks to the popularization of smartphones. Now young people sleep less and less by browsing social media or playing.

Still, it’s very common to come across hilarious scenes of people sleeping on trains. The video compiled below shows very well how the Japanese sleep on trains and in public places.

Japanese sleeping at work

Some have heard that in Japan sleep at work, is that true? In some jobs the answer is yes. Some Japanese have the audacity to sleep even in meetings at work.

Taking a nap while working can be seen as a sign that you are doing your best. It may be that the person is exhausted from either work or simply stayed late in a bar.

Inemuri - Japanese napping in public places

Unfortunately not everyone can have this privilege of sleeping at work, only high-ranking people or important jobs have this privilege. Others simply sleep hidden if the job permits.

Factory pawns or subordinates cannot doze off at work, if that happens, you may even lose your job. Of course it all depends on your boss, employment, position, conditions, working hours and etc.

You can work and see your boss nap, but you can’t do the same. Anyway, practicing inemuri doesn’t mean the person is lazy. Just make sure it’s not a problem.

Inemuri - Japanese napping in public places

What do you think of Inemuri?

We know that for the sake of our health it is necessary to sleep at least 8 hours a day and a maximum of 10. Unfortunately almost 40% of the Japanese population sleeps less than 6 hours a day at night.

Not because they’re working, but they like to stay overnight on the street and in bars, or stay surfing the internet and social networks. The Japanese friends I talk to spend two hours in the morning on social media.

Some work too hard, this ends up generating mental and physical stress, which hinders health. Remembering that we don’t need to generalize, thinking that Japanese kill themselves from working, I’ve talked about it in another article.

Inemuri - Japanese napping in public places

Inemuri’s brief sleep periods help relax the mind, focus better and even rejuvenate and clarify ideas. Maybe that’s one of the great responsible for Japanese intelligence. 

In some places the rule is to relax without being seen, the person must be physically present and socially engaged. Unfortunately, not everyone can follow the rules.

Overall inemuri is regarded as a matter of pride in Japanese culture, while it is regarded as shame and strangeness in other parts of the world. What do you think of that?

If you liked the article, I hope you share it with friends and leave your comments. Thank you very much and until the next one!

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