We all know Japan is a country where life goes fast and busy. And also Japanese prided themselves on being known as the hardworking nation that never sleeps. But it seems like a lot of work doesn’t let them to get a proper sleep which brought a new concept to their life: Inemuri.
Inemuri can be simplified as ‘sleeping on the job’, but a more accurate definition would be ‘being present while asleep’. Inemuri – sleeping at train stations, in class, on the steps of the mall – is a much more common sight in Japan than in America or Europe. Everyone sleeps in everywhere and nobody finds it odd. In fact some even feels proud to devote themselves to their work with such a sacrifice. Well of course we have a little bit background history to this habit.
‘Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.’ This philosophy has gained a public acceptance since Confucius and Buddha. For example people used to be scolded for sleeping late, but on the other hand, scholars and samurai were praised for sacrificing their sleep to work. Another interesting fact is that they sleep with their kids till they reach the age of 8, while most European families make their kid sleep on their own. Maybe due to these traditions or such, Japanese people don’t find it odd to sleep in public areas. Many stated that they felt much more comfortable sleeping in shelters with other people then they do in their homes after the 2011 tsunami disaster. Academicians studying this phenomenon are on the opinion that Japenese doesn’t consider inemuri as sleeping. They consider it as a small nap.In fact when we look at the etymology of the word; ‘Inemuri’ includes the meanings of ‘being there’ and ‘sleeping’ meaning during inemuri, your attention is also focused on the social environment you are in. Thus, as long as you do not disturb anyone, there is no problem in inemuri. Like there is no problem in sleeping at the office as long as you attend the meetings and do your job!
Being tired and sleeping is not considered as laziness or irresponsibility, vice versa it is nearly a symbol of hardworking. Therefore, it is totally acceptable and common. What do you think would happen if you just take a little nap being on the computer at your workplace?
This article was written by Eda, volunteer at Sunrise Project France since April 2020. She lives in Turkey, She is 21. Travelling, meeting new people and cooking are her greatest passions in life. She also enjoys learning languages and swimming.