You Know You`re In Japan When…..

Since I`ve been the unblogger for the last several weeks, let me remind you where we left off. The series, “You Know You`re in Japan when…..” I haven`t forgotten or run out of fodder. More on that later.

Without further adieu let`s get to it.

Many of you may recall a few Olympics being hosted by Japan. The downhill mogul course in Nagano taught me the value of reading- and understanding- the course map. Attaching the snowboard to my butt and bouncing down left me with a permanent fear of moguls and a better understanding of just how long an Olympic Course has to be.

Some of you may know that Japan is pursuing the Olympics for a three peat in 2020.


What you may not know is that Japan has also petitioned the Olympic Committee for the addition of a new sport. Something that Japanese people have mastered practicing over  thousands of years. Tokyo government officials are already planning the victory parade through Ginza in celebration of a gold, silver and bronze.

In what? Anyone having visited Tokyo or having had the misfortune of sitting next to a Japanese man on a 14 hour flight will recognize immediately the champions of this proposed sport.

A previously unheard of sport-Napping.

“You know you`re in Japan when napping is an Olympic Sport.”

But what makes a champion napper? Several key elements for judging are currently being batted around.

One key – but basic- skill is demonstrated by these contenders. The ability to nap without a surface on which to rest their head. The foreigner makes a good show, however, has been disqualified for using the window.


I`m so pleased with this picture. As I was the only one not napping, I was able to take this shot of the men on my train napping- and one on the train next to us during a stop.

The girl below also loses points for resting her head, however, her open mouth indicates an ability to obtain REM. This off sets points for using a resting surface.

photo(60)In this shot, both participants get points for being comfortable sleeping on a stranger. In fact, most champion nappers are comfortable both being napped on or with napping on others.


The gentleman in the trench coat demonstrates a technique criticized when employed on airplanes. The ability to freeze one`s head in an upright position until an internal gong seemingly wakes them at some pre-planned exact moment. People who`ve endured the 12-14 hour flight to Japan usually don`t complain about the length of the flight. The most common complaint is about the Japanese men seated on the aisle who once in this position don`t move again until the plane pulls in to the jetway. Also problematic for airport staff as it causes all those seated in an aisle or middle to stampede the bathrooms upon arrival. No one wants to wait in line once there so much elbowing and biting occurs along the way.

photo(63)And finally, champions come in all ages. This young boy takes home the gold.

photoNapping while half standing as your parents and siblings load up the stroller outside proves this kid is a force with which to be reckoned. Although he is utilizing a resting surface, he has learned the art previously seen only with horses- an ability to lock the knees thus preventing a fall while sleeping.

I was unable to master the sport of napping for fear that my purse would be stolen or that I would miss my stop. These are not considerations for champions.

I look forward to hearing of the winners in this category but I don`t want to watch it.

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50 Responses to You Know You`re In Japan When…..

  1. gina4star says:

    Wow, that really is quite an art! I’m impressed with the skills!


  2. Robin Bradley says:

    this weekend..saw a man holding on to the straps..sleeping. must have been a long night. thanks for the laugh.


  3. Judy says:

    Or do they simply work and study too hard, not getting enough sleep? I’m exhausted just looking at them!


  4. I remember, too, how amazed I was to see people sleeping while holding straps and sitting as well. I can barely nap at home, let alone on a train.

    How are you? Been thinking of you since I heard about your Dad. How’s Canada?
    Are you prepared for the culture shock? The programme I went to Japan through was very good about preparing us for reverse-culture shock, and it’s true! (The JET Programme, 2nd year I went).
    I was laid off on the last day of the school day. Another challenge, another fork in the proverbial road. It never ends, does it?

    Watch for a blog post of mine any day now! 🙂


    • uh… that would be the last day of the school year. Doh!


    • TarBuns- I am so sorry to hear this. Hang in there. It`s hard to go through this. Prayers and good vibes for a better gig to come!

      SO- Dad passed 3 weeks before the movers arrived. We flew to Canada, unloaded a suitcase, made several trips to Walmart and flew to his funeral in the US 4 days later. It`s been a rough month. However, on the upturn now.
      Will be looking for the post.


  5. Hilarious. This reminds me of a subway post I did a few years back about devices used in Japan to enable people to sleep on the subway while staying upright. Have you ever seen these?


  6. mcgeeles says:

    This was too funny! OK., but, I’m curious, how do you nap?


  7. Shannon Chatlos says:

    Lmao! Hilarious!!!!!!!!

    Shannon B. Chatlos SalientMG, Managing Partner Political Practice Lead 443-994-0878

    This message was sent to you via my mobile office: I apologize for typos and brevity!


  8. I’d heard a lot about young women being groped on the crowded commuter trains in Tokyo, so I worried about my younger daughter while she was there. When she came home, I asked her if, uh, her experiences on the train had been pleasant. She said she’d never been groped, but on a couple of occasions guys would fall asleep on the seat next to hers and their heads would roll onto her shoulder. Which completely grossed her out, especially since one guy apparently hadn’t washed his hair in a looong time. She learned eventually to flick her shoulder so the sleeper’s head would roll back to its previous position: but she was glad when she found a place to live that didn’t require her to take the train to school. She said the Tokyo trains made the New York subways seem spacious.


    • Groping on trains- that`s called “Chikan” and it`s really bad only on one line. You have less chances of getting it if you look like you`ll punch. I had hoped I would get groped while there – alas- apparently I don`t look grope worthy. Anyway- the trains- bullet, subway, etc- have SPOILED us.


  9. LOL They certainly have mastered this skill!


  10. 2summers says:

    Hilarious pics.


  11. This is so funny! I actually have a picture of me and my group of friends napping on each others’ arms (standing!) while desperately trying to grab hold of something to hold on on a last train in Tokyo. It’s an art!


  12. dalviarodrigues says:

    I think now I may consider doing this myself, but I know I could never be as good as that little kid!


  13. Buri-chan says:

    There should be points awarded for timing as well–how fast one can start napping and achieve a state beyond closing ones eyes, and preciseness on wake-up time. It’s like the landing in gymnastics.


  14. YTSL says:

    Hong Kongers are pretty good nappers too. If it were an Olympic sport, I think a Hong Konger would be able to vie for a bronze — though I agree that the Japanese are true champions at napping. 😀


  15. tokyobling says:

    I agree. All the medals. At least. I only have one champion napper on my blog, but he is a good one!


  16. Elizabeth says:

    The nappers I see always do the head bob. 🙂


  17. Pingback: The End is Near (and we deserve it) . . . The Underwear Flask & the Wine Rack Bra « Bayard & Holmes

  18. As someone who can only seem to sleep in my own bed, I find this hilarious. I’ve never seen so many nappers in my life! Glad to have you back, Emily. Hope you’re doing okay, my friend.


  19. Never seen so many people sleeping, I think that why we have slipped in the UK we need more public places to sleep. Very entertaining, glad ive found this.


  20. JDrum says:

    We were in Tokyo in March and April. Both the rampant public napping as well as the face masks took some getting used to, but we had a great time.
    Lovely piece. Thank you!


    • For the longest time I thought the face masks were due to the Sarin attack on the train. Those are something you don`t even notice after a while. In fact- you get p`o`d when someone is sneezing and not wearing one.


  21. popenucci says:

    “I was unable to master the sport of napping for fear of my purse being stolen”… I’d be more afraid to master it for fear of random strangers snapping my photo and posting it on the Internet for others to comment. As a Japanese woman, I find it a bit creepy. Just my humble opinion.


  22. jonahkruvant says:

    Haha yes! Having lived in Japan for a year and a half, I can totally relate! The napping on a stranger on the subway was inconceivable the first time I saw it! I also remember taxi drivers sleeping with their door OPEN! Haha great blog, I am a follower!


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