I spent exactly 4 weeks in Osaka last November. I had gone there on an internship at the Osaka city University, I’ve been a student in Europe for 6 years now and I thought why not experience another culture.
It was not difficult getting a spot, and the best of all was that they saved me the hassle of finding an accommodation elsewhere. Getting a visa was also quite straightforward. Honestly I didn’t know what to expect but I was excited going.
I arrived via Turkish Airways to Osaka Kansai Intl Airport at around 7pm, it was a 14 hour trip from Istanbul to Osaka and I slept at the airport that night. I couldn’t get much sleep on my trip and neither at the airport as I slept in a very busy area. Next morning, I took the train to Tennoji where the university is situated.
It was a rainy morning, the university was about 5 minutes from the station, it took me 40 minutes to find it 😀 Finally I met with Ms S. a very nice and courteous lady as are majority of the Japanese.
Work started that day, so funny, she repeatedly wrote in our emails that the work would start that day but somehow I didn’t expect it to.
I was introduced to the other Japanese students and we would be in the cardiovascular surgery team for two weeks together. The first one hour was okay, we were only receiving patients in a room and we were seated. Afterwards, we had to go to the operating rooms. I survived the first surgery and then my woes began in the 2nd surgery.
“…my woes began in the 2nd surgery”
My eyes would not stay open, they were literally heavy, I was quite restless but was trying hard to control myself, at this point I couldn’t hear any more explanations from my supervisor, there were doctors, there were nurses and students partaking in the surgery and there was me, in the surgery room but in dreamland, even I did not know what was going on haha.
Inemuri is a Japanese word, translated as being present while sleeping
My supervisor had noticed by now as am sure others had also, so he said to sit and observe, that didn’t help matters at all. At a point another Doctor began to show me the illustrations of the ongoing surgery, how embarrassing that the young lady was deeply asleep. That wasn’t the climax, the surgery needed X-ray scans taken of the patient, for those not wearing the protection suits we were required to go behind a protection screen. This was it. While heading behind it, I sleepwalked right into the protection screen, no I didn’t just brush it by the side, I wasn’t looking elsewhere, I just walked right into it.Oh the encounter, the sound that made everyone at attention.
Inemuri is a Japanese word, translated as being present while sleeping. This is a culture found among the Japanese where people sleep at work or in public and this is not frowned upon. I remember having seminars subsequently with other Japanese students and they just slept and even though the doctors saw them, no one said a word. Apparently this is okay, and not considered laziness at all.
I was sleeping on the job on my first day of work. After that encounter with the screen, my supervisor told me I was most likely jet-lagged, yes that was more reasonable. So I was permitted to go home and fortunately the next day was a public holiday so I could adjust well.
Well, that became a joke for the rest of the week, with the doctors asking me if I was still experiencing jet lag 😀 Any other place in the world I don’t think It would have been taken lightly, sleeping on the job on the first day, but this was Japan with a culture of Inemuri.
Jet lag according to urban dictionary, ” the experience one has when your head says you are in one time zone, your body says you are in another.”
I was definitely jet-lagged. I only got to learn about Inemuri after leaving Japan. For more information about this, read BBC’s article on this. The Japanese art of (not) sleeping.