Catching some Zs, shame free
Inemuri by the Book
Inemuri is a respected tradition often earned by those working the most. The idea of being able to be at work and still have a small nap is a sign of extra diligence, and it reflects the Japanese approach to time management as well as a work/ life balance. In her book, Dr. Steger recounts a dinner where one man fell asleep at the table only to be complimented on his “gentlemanly behavior” since his brief inemuri was seen as being more respectful than excusing himself completely.
Most often, it’s reserved for men in high-ranking professional jobs, who are seen as deserving as a nap since they work so hard. Women are also allowed to do it, but if they look sloppy or unbecoming while sleeping, they are more likely to be criticized. Younger workers typically avoid it in order to seem more high-energy and hardworking, and people in physical or menial jobs often can’t afford to fall asleep whenever they please.
Ideally, the sleeper should take up as little room as possible, allowing themselves a short nap in their own personal space.
Dr. Steger wonders whether or not inemuri will keep up with today’s cultural trends, citing the concept of how alone time has changed due to technology.
In the past, she explains, inemuri made closing your eyes and having some personal time easy, especially in a crowded country. Today, however, mobile phones and other handheld devices have made it just as easy to “plug in” your headphones and escape the world around you.
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