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the sleepers

It's a common sight on the trains of Japan. The sleeping commuter. But all may not be quite as it seems. A team of doctors in Osaka recently carried out a survey on the Osaka Loop Line and made a shocking discovery. Up to 10 per cent of the 'sleepers' are actually dead. In most cases, they have died from karoshi, or 'death from overwork'.

"It's a tragedy that these people are sometimes left for weeks just going round and round on the loop line, without being afforded a proper burial," said Doctor Hashimoto, leading the survey. "It's only when the smell gets really bad that people realise they're not sleeping at all, but are actually rotting," he continued.

As a result of the survey, the doctors have issued a list of tell-tale signs that will help commuters recognise the difference between a sleeper and a stiff.

1. When train pulls into station, sleeper fails to check name of station.
2. Really bad smell coming from sleeper.
3. Sleeper that you saw at 8.45am still there on your way home at 9pm.
4. Sleeper doesn't appear to be in a hurry to get to work.
5. Fungus or mould on sleeper's face and hands.
6. Sleeper fails to respond when politely shoved.


not at all well

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On Wednesday, 31 August, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said:

OMG hilarious. I just got back from Tokyo/Narita/Yachimata area of Japan and it seems as tho Japanese people have sleeping pills put into their food or something. ;) After a couple of weeks of riding the trains about, I started falling asleep on trains, too, though.  

On Thursday, 01 September, 2005, Blogger Tokyo Girl said:

I will be watching the sleepers on the trains more carefully from now on. The other day as I watched a police car drive slowly through Ueno Park, I did wonder if they were looking for homeless people who had not survived the night.  

On Thursday, 01 September, 2005, Blogger Kallun said:

You have got to be kidding me. Tell me you're making this up. I sat next to this guy just this morning, a 'sleeper', who stank to high-heaven.  

On Friday, 02 September, 2005, Anonymous btuQueen said:

i find this odd and scary. this gives a fresh meaning to the word "dead tired."  

On Saturday, 03 September, 2005, Blogger GC (God's Child) said:

are you sure? Wouldn't the staff check the trains at night and prod sleeping passengers to get off?  

On Saturday, 03 September, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said:

i think the jpnse are too polite to start prodding people who are asleep (or perhaps dead)  

On Monday, 05 September, 2005, Blogger Lewis said:

I think the sleeping syndrome is catching - since I came to Japan I swear I've been sleeping upwards of twelve hours a day. It's not as bad as it sounds - a well timed nap at your desk gives the proper impression of overwork, and it sure makes home time come around a bit quicker.  

On Sunday, 11 September, 2005, Blogger Chris C said:

I think the bigger problem is the big black birthmarks that are on all of their faces. Maybe it is really a medical condition...  

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