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A Special Kind of Art Form


There are many types of ways to sleep on a train. Americans are most likely to associate this behavior with long trips and comfortable Amtrak seats. Urban citizens may also have a highly developed train-fu and thus recognize the possibility of sleeping on the El or the Subway (something which can be rather common among the homeless community). For the purposes of this write-up, I will be discussing the system of Japanese Trains.

I have noticed among the Japanese a special and unique talent in regards to sleeping on trains. In my experience, every Japanese person has the ability to sleep on a commuter, regional or local train and still manage to make their stop. This is a very impressive, if somewhat dangerous practice. Should you attempt to imitate, proper technique should be followed:

  1. The head should slowly droop forward, until the chin rests upon the chest.

  2. The body must sway with the movement of the train.

  3. You must snap instantly awake approximately 2.7 seconds before the train comes to a full stop at your desired destination.

The primary dangers for the gaijin attempting to attain this particular level of train-fu stem from failure to follow these precepts. They are as follows:

  1. Waking up and realizing that everyone on the train is staring at you. After the initial confusion subsides, you realize that your decision to lean your head back resulted in 30 minutes of very loud snoring.

  2. Waking up and realizing that you are not in bed with your SO. Instead, your head is resting comfortably upon the shoulder of the disgruntled businessman to your left. You have emitted copious amounts of drool on his expensive overcoat.

  3. Waking up and realizing that not only have you missed your stop, you have slept through the entire train circuit and are now back where you started. Add points if you realize you are at the central train depot for the night.

It may also be common for the novice to experience two or three of these pitfalls simultaneously.

Ability to consistently follow the three main precepts of Sleeping on Trains will significantly enhance your train-fu. Good luck young grasshopper.

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