A byte of life from the Land of Sumos and Sushi

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

A Nation of Kip Artists

I have never before come across such a sleep deprived nation of people. My standard classroom greeting; “Hello everybody, how are you today?” is, everyday, without fail, met with “I’m tired”.

Kids frequently sleep through class without reprimand from teachers, and teachers sleeping at their desks is deemed perfectly acceptable. I admit I’m thankful that I wasn’t raised in Japan. It’s no wonder the kids and teachers are sleeping on the job considering the hours they put in. Starting at 7:45 in the morning, students are in school till around 5:45 in the evening. The long ten hour day, which lacks any substantial breaks, combined with compulsory after school clubs and hefty piles of homework ensure the kids sleeping hours are kept to a minimum.

It seems this is simply the training for a future life of little shut eye. Working hours are longer here, and for many, Sunday is their only day off, which is often spent just catching up on missed zzzs. Teachers at my schools rarely leave before 6:30pm and often stay till 8 or 9, if there’s a job to be done, and teachers who are lumbered with sports club duties may not have a single weekend off for several months.

However, from my observations the long hours aren’t always necessary, and despite being renowned as a highly efficient country, it often seems that the emphasis is placed on looking busy, rather than just getting a job done and going home. The working culture here dictates that leaving early is “letting the team down” – and even if you’ve completed all your work for the day, you are required to sit and shuffle papers, or tidy your desk, anything which could go under the guise of working.

When social pressures force the Japanese from their Sunday naps to go out and make the most of their one day off, the results are often just a re-location of the slumber zone. I’ve seen people dozing in ski resorts, temples, and shops, anywhere they can get their head down for a bit of shut eye. Again, it seems that the reporting of “what I did at the weekend” to your colleagues back at work on Monday, ranks higher in importance than the actual enjoyment of the event itself.

However, I’m not complaining. If they want to drive all the way from Osaka to Ski Jam, (3 hours) and pay for a lift ticket, just so they can sleep in the mountain restaurant in order to claim they went skiing at the weekend, let them.

It’s all the more snow for me.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

all I can say is, that's a pretty weak feature of a society! -Capers

Tuesday, March 01, 2005 11:34:00 pm

Blogger melinama said...

You know the bumper sticker:


Wednesday, March 02, 2005 2:51:00 am

Blogger Lewis said...

An all too familar sight... Mind you, I'm just as bad. I fell asleep during the graduation ceremony today. Whoops!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005 2:49:00 pm

Anonymous fatbob said...

Looks like you have found your home from home Sam!
Need more quality!

Friday, March 04, 2005 4:48:00 am


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