$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.

All Eyes on Japan

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

Places I’ve Lived: Eight Places, Two Suitcases

Jordan Wyn has lived in some places.


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.

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.

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

Can you design a beautiful, tiny space?

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).

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.

Another Strange Thing from Japan

“A toilet roll on which English translation of the short story is printed is priced at 210 yen (3,000 won), 10 times higher than ordinary toilet paper.”

— Of course the Japanese would make toilet paper with a scary story by “Ring” writer Koji Suzuki printed on it—and then go on to sell 300,000 rolls. Something to scare the you-know-what out of you, I guess. [via]