Monday, September 10, 2012

The top 5 ways to sleep on a Japanese train

Bet he hasn't missed his stop!

Following my post explaining why Japanese sleep on trains, I thought it might be a good idea to give you a run down of the most popular sleeping positions adopted by the locals. After all, everybody sleeps on the train! You just have to know how to do it without looking like a fool! So without further delay, here are the top 5 ways to sleep on a Japanese train.

#1 - Sleeping with your head down

This is by far the most common way to sleep on a train in Japan. It usually involves first getting a seat and then using your bag as something on which to rest your head. This has been in fashion for a while because (for cultural reasons I won't go into today) Japanese people don’t like to make eye contact or look like they are making eye contact.

Seb's Cheeky Tip: Keep an eye on people who sleep like this, because you'll probably see a nice bag imprint on their face as soon as they wake up!

#2 - Sleeping with your head back and your mouth wide open

This sleeping position is more common among the salary men and male pensioners. These people are either too old or too tired to care about how stupid they look while sleeping. For this reason, they are the most susceptible to having their photo taken for comedic purposes.

Seb's Cheeky Tip: If you’re feeling extra cheeky, you could drop an M&M or two into their mouth to see if they wake up (or just choke to death)!

#3 - Sleeping with your head on someone’s shoulder

This is a sleeping position adopted by women more often than men, as a cute girl may be forgiven for falling sleep on someone. Conversely, a man might be accused of sexual harassment if he were to do the same. It’s interesting that while Japanese people prefer their personal space in regular situations, it’s all thrown out the window as soon as they step on a train.

Seb's Cheeky Tip: Position yourself in a place so that the person resting their head on your shoulder is part of a longer chain of shoulder-resting. Wait for her to get nice and comfortable and then quickly get up to see a lovely domino effect.

#4 - Sleeping in such a position that nobody else can sit down

If you think Japanese people are perfect citizens around the clock, think again! Not a day goes by without somebody slumped on the train seat (pretty much asking for mouth to mouth), preventing or at least discouraging anybody from sitting nearby. I remember once seeing a whole carriage full of people like this and it looked like the scene of a terrorist attack only minus the blood and guts.

Seb's Cheeky Tip: Get on a train with a group of around 5 or 6 of your fellow gaijin comrades and start to "sleep" in the above-mentioned annoying position in different areas of the carriage. Wait for other passengers to settle down (if they even decide to sit near you) and get up in unison at the next stop just to confuse everybody!

#5 - Sleeping while standing up

While there’s no shortage of people wanting to sleep on the train, there is certainly a shortage of train seats. Since a standing person takes up much less space than one sitting down, Japanese trains are usually designed with relatively few seats to accommodate more passengers. This means many have to resort to sleeping while standing. Luckily, there are plenty of hand rings to hold while the train is moving so you don’t have to worry about falling down (as long as you don’t let go!).

Most people incorporate a bit of position #1 by putting their heads in their hands and trying to remain still, but there’s always that one guy who ends up wriggling around, as if he’s unconsciously dancing to a Justin Bieber song.

Seb's Cheeky Tip: Cover your hands in vaseline or something similar and then board the train. Make your way up and down the carriage, making sure to smother as many hand rings as you can with your greasy palms. Wait for a drunken salaryman to get on and then let the games begin!

So there you have it! The top 5 ways to sleep on a Japanese train! But don't let this list stop you from creating your own wacky and wonderful sleeping styles. How about attempting to sleep while pulling a funny face? Why not try to convince other passengers that you're just meditating by crossing your legs and folding your arms? The possibilities are endless when you put your mind to it!

Are there are any other funny, weird or interesting sleeping styles that I forgot to mention? If so, please let me know in the comments box below!


  1. this article now makes me want to go to sleep xD

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