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Japan’s newest tool to solve its overwork problem is a standing ‘nap box’

July 15, 2022, 9:49 AM UTC
Overlong office hours are famously an issue among employees in Japan and the country even has a term for people sleeping during the day to make it through a full shift or a long commute: inemuri.
James Leynse—Corbis/Getty Images

Japan’s Itoki Corp. and Koyoju Gohan KK are partnering to release vertical “nap boxes” to help bring a healthier office culture to the country.

The partnership was born out of a business-matching event where Tokyo-based Itoki, a furniture specialist, came in contact with plywood supplier Koyoju Gohan from Hokkaido. The two signed a license agreement on Thursday and Koyoju Gohan is now in the design process for the nap box. Pricing and availability haven’t yet been decided.

Overlong office hours are famously an issue among employees in Japan and the country even has a term for people sleeping during the day to make it through a full shift or a long commute: inemuri.

“In Japan, there are a lot of people who will lock themselves up in the bathroom for a while, which I don’t think is healthy. It’s better to sleep in a comfortable location,” said Saeko Kawashima, communications director at Itoki.

The nap box user will sleep in the pod like a flamingo, standing upright. The initial design has been made to ensure that the head, knees and rear are all comfortably supported so that the person will not fall over. With research pointing to restorative rest increasing productivity, this new development may nudge employees in Japan to take short power naps throughout the day.

“I think a lot of Japanese people tend to work continuously with no breaks,” Kawashima said. “We are hoping that companies can use this as a more flexible approach to resting.”

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