At my first job in Japan, there was no janitorial staff, so we all had to pitch in with cleaning the office. One day, I punched in, grabbed the vacuum, and started doing the floors. Everything was going fine until I got to the back room, where I opened the door to find my coworker lying flat on her back, fast asleep on the floor.
I’m not sure if she’d shown up incredibly early and tired herself out, or just never made it home the night before, but it turns out sleeping at the office in Japan isn’t quite as unusual as you’d think (or hope). Thankfully, if you do get stuck, at least you can be still be warm and cozy, thanks to this crazy wearable futon.
Just to clear things up, we’re using futon in its original Japanese meaning of padded bedding and sheets, and not to refer to the foldable sofa/beds you’ll find in the dorm rooms of college students and living rooms of certain Internet writers. The wearable futon is the somewhat malformed brainchild of King Jim, a Japanese company specializing in office equipment and supplies.
The puffy polyester suit fits over your clothes, so even if you don’t have a place to disrobe, you’re still set for some shuteye. It also folds up into a compact box that measures 315 x 135 x 230 millimeters (12.4 x 5.3 x 9.1 inches). This gives it similar surface dimensions to a standard piece of Japanese printer paper, making it easy to stick on a shelf or stash in a drawer with folders full of business documents so pressing that dealing with them takes precedence over finding conventional sleeping arrangements.
As an added creature comfort, the package also includes a thin air mattress which can be inflated with the hand-operated pump that comes bundled with the set.
Online opinions in Japan seem split between admiring the ingenuity of the idea and fearing the implications of allowing Japanese companies to come any closer to completely owning the lives of their employees.
“King Jim doesn’t want to ever let us go home from the office!”
“With one of these, I wouldn’t have to worry about missing the last train back to my house.”
“I might buy one of these for when I go camping or have to sleep in my car.”
“A milestone in turning us all into corporate slaves.”
Although no one likes the idea of working until dawn, there is at least one situation in which employees would be happy to have their own wearable futon. In case of natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons, the trains often stop running so that operators can perform safety checks. Usually these are handled fairly quickly, but in extreme cases, such as the massive earthquake in 2011, public transportation can be shut down for hours. With many commutes between the suburbs of Tokyo and downtown taking well over 60 minutes, sometimes people get stuck with no way to make it home, and if you’re stuck sleeping in the office either way, King Jim’s new product looks a lot more inviting than stretching out on a hard, barren floor.
Interested parties can buy their wearable futon starting on September 26, when it goes on sale for the price of 4,500 yen (US$44.50). We’re sure rocking one at work will have all your coworkers saying “WTF,” either out of shock or their appreciation of your willingness to Wear The Futon.