$30 for 40 Minutes of Sleeping

Gideon Lewis-Kraus’s essay in Harper’s about co-sleeping cafés—places where, as far as I can tell, men go to pay women to sleep next to them for as short as 20 minutes, or for additional money, get patted on the head or get a five-second hug (cost: $10). The description of some of the services demonstrates some of the institutionalized sexism in Japan (women servicing men to make them feel better about themselves), but it also shows the country’s overworked culture that has people literally being worked to death.

Hikikomori

BBC Magazine has a story about hikkomori a term used in Japan to describe people who withdraw and stay in their rooms for long periods of time, often years. Some academics link the rise in hikkomori to the bursting of Japan’s bubble economy in the ’80s, and the recession that followed.

PTO in the USA

Pacific Standard is reminding us that the vacation policies in the U.S. could be vastly improved, and although Congressman Alan Grayson Paid Vacation Act is unlikely to pass, we should start thinking about how to improve our time-off practices (though we’re still better off than Japan).

All Eyes on Japan

Neil Irwin says Japan is the most interesting story in global economics right now.

Japan’s Strange $200 Million Girl Band

Billfold pal Jon Custer alerted us about Japanese pop phenomenon AKB48, which is less a girl group, than a $200 million annual business.

What It Cost Me to Climb Mount Fuji

What it costs to walk up a mountain and then walk down that same mountain, if that mountain is Mt. Fuji.

Places I’ve Lived: Eight Places, Two Suitcases

Jordan Wyn has lived in some places.

Wanted: Someone to Build Tiny Living Spaces for Singles in NYC

Can you design a beautiful, tiny space?

Another Strange Thing from Japan

Reasons to Work (Too?) Hard

Interesting insights into the Japanese culture and prompt for thinking about your own work ethic.