Japan is the land of hard work, long hours, little pay and a common acceptance with little or no vacation time. In other countries, some might call that exploitation or call in a union representative, or in some cases go on strike!
Not in Japan, Japanese society is built on hard work and a lot of people have the mentality that you must work and be dog tired. It’s quite normal for some people to work more than 80 hours a week or more with little to no vacation time.
If you look around, you might notice that everyone has a job, everyone is doing something, and whatever it is they are doing, they are doing it beyond their best ability, and the tasks are always done with a smile.
You might have noticed that Japanese people can sleep almost anywhere. This could be because of the harsh work ethic. On the trains -sitting or standing, in their cars on the side of the road, or in restaurants. This mini siesta is exactly what they need to help them survive the afternoon or night of work ahead.
So why do they do it? Some know this as (義理と人情) Giri to ninjyo or duty and sentiment, to the task of course. Some people feel it’s their duty to work hard because it is what is expected of them and the fear of not living up to that is much worse than not. Japanese have worked so hard that people have been known to just collapse and die from overworking. There is even a word that was created for it known as karoshi (過労死). The main causes of karoshi are heart attacks, and stroke due to stress, and in some cases starvation. This isn’t entirely new and has been around for decades because overtime is not paid there is no limit to how long people can work. So the next time you see someone sleeping, exercise some compassion and let them sleep!