Its OK to Sleep on Trains in Japan…



I haven’t driven since I’ve moved to Japan. For many Americans this is a problem… but not for me. I LOVE not having to drive everywhere! Its been great! The trains in Japan are fast, efficient and punctual. The only drawback I find is that they are crowded during rush hour.

Since I depend on the trains for my transportation I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon among the local riders: sleeping on trains. At first I was shocked! The amazingly beautiful Japanese women were letting themselves look less than beautiful while drooling on themselves on the trains! How could this be safe?! What if they missed their stop?! And the salarymen nodding out on their fellow passengers! How rude?! So unlike the Japanese! But yet… SO Japanese. The longer I’ve been in Japan the more I’ve gotten used to seeing people sleeping on trains and I see it on every train I ride.


Seeing the Japanese people sleep on trains seems to be pretty shocking for many foreigners. There are tons of blog posts about it and once I Googled it I found that everyone wondered, ‘WHY?” The Totally Japan blog sited that a low crime rate is one of the reasons. Having lived in Japan for almost a year I’d have to agree. It is not uncommon to see a woman leave her purse or a man leave his purse (oh yes, men carry purses hear… only I’m sure they don’t call them purses, but that’s what they are) on a seat or table in a restaurant to save their place – and then they walk away! No one steals it! Its amazing! I’ve even started doing it! Japan is just that safe! Totally Japan goes on to say that workers in Japan often have long commutes and joined with their long working hours they are exhausted at the end of their day. Combine this with the soothing rocking of a train and its lights out for many Japanese commuters!


Another blog, The Japan Rants, discusses what to do when you have the ever-so-awkward moment when a person falls asleep ON YOU! What do you do? I have seen most (local) Japanese people ignore it. After all, that’s the polite thing to do (and everyone here is extremely polite).


I stumbled upon the below picture on Japan Talk. Somewhere in Japan sleeping on trains is being discouraged. Well… it’s not working. I would say that moving forward in my life when people ask me what was incredibly common in Japan I will reply “people sleeping on trains.”


For further photos and information, check out two hilarious blogs with photos and ‘explanations’: Japan Talk and LLP.


6 thoughts on “Its OK to Sleep on Trains in Japan…

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