The art of cat-napping in Japan

The Japanese are masters of cat-napping. They are able to sleep anywhere, anytime. Their ability to squeeze in a quick nap is truly amazing. In Belgium I hardly ever see people sleeping in public, except for the occasional cat-nap on the train. But in Japan, I have seen people taking a nap in restaurants, while standing up on the train and even on the ground in the street!

cat-nap in japanese restaurant
This lady decided to have a quick nap after her lunch in a Toyota City restaurant.
cat-nap in japanese restaurant
Five minutes later, she reached an even more advanced state of relaxation.

If you want to see what the highest possible state of relaxation looks like, have a look at the post I wrote about school kids sleeping on the train.

But the most impressive example I saw of Japanese people being to sleep anywhere, anytime, is someone just taking a nap on the ground. And no, they were clearly not homeless people. Amazing!



18 thoughts on “The art of cat-napping in Japan

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    1. It’s amazing! Whenever I have a visitor from Japan in Belgium, I am amazed all over again at their ability to take a nap whenever the oportunity presents itself. As soon as you take them for a drive that is longer than 10 minutes, they are sleeping.

  1. What really amazes me is that when Japanese people sleep on trains/buses, they seem to wake up as soon as they reach their stop. I mean, at least some of those people are probably actually just resting their eyes as opposed to being deeply asleep, but it’s still pretty awesome! I don’t think I could do that – mostly because, in Japan, it’s perfectly normal and acceptable to sleep in public, whereas where I’m from, that might be seen as vaguely embarrassing.

    1. I also find it amazing that they are able to wake up at precisely the right time.

      Where are you from? I am surprised that sleeping in public is considered embarrasing there. In Belgium, we don’t see many people sleeping in public, but when they do, it is not considered embarrasing.

      1. New Zealand. It’s not that sleeping in public is considered rude or even especially weird, but I’ve always got the impression that it’s a little like being a little kid, if you suddenly just fell asleep on the bus or whatever. (Although, public transport itself in NZ isn’t good. Most people don’t get around by train at all, and people prefer to drive or walk/cycle if possible rather than take a bus.)

  2. Agree, I’ve been teaching in Japan and Australia for 10 years and the Japanese students are all able to take that 10 minute nap at any break time. I used to race cars in Japan and I was surprised to see many drivers sleeping in their cars between races. I couldn’t believe how with all the noise around. I though they would miss their race but for some reason 10 minutes or so before their race stated, boom, they were awake ready to go.

    1. I also wonder how it is possible that they can sleep anywhere. Is it because everyone in Japan is so exhausted? Surely that can’t be the case.

      I have also wondered at people sleeping on the train who are able to wake up just before they have to get off. Someone told me they put their phone alarm to vibrate and that is how they wake up. Have you heard about that?

  3. I love napping on the train! Even just getting 10min of shut-eye definitely helps when you’re tired. Back in Australia people never do it! I think it’s more about image than safety though.

    1. When I was a teenager, I would frequently nap on the train. But these days I don’t seem able to anymore. Maybe I could do some kind of nap-training, trying to work naps into my daily routine.

      I wonder why people in Belgium don’t nap in public. Personally I feel it’s more because of safety, or wanting to keep an eye on your surroundings. But maybe it has something to do with image as well.

  4. My mother came from Japan at 11 months but she must have retained some kind of memory of napping because she could sleep for 5 minutes anywhere and wake up ready to start again. She lived to 94, so maybe this is also a secret of longevity.

    1. Haha, maybe the cat-napping ability is something genetic then? I agree that it’s probably good for your health to have these little power naps. I will try to work on it myself ^_^

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