Drunk salary man passed out in flower bed

Drunk salary man passed out in flower bed

Friday night outside Shinjuku station, I noticed a salary man lying unconscious in a flower bed. The two young women sitting next to him wondered what this foreigner was photographing. I mentioned that in the United States, it’s not safe to be passed out in public, but they laughed and said, “It’s OK.”

I marvel at the safety of Tokyo, the world’s largest city, where it is not uncommon to see well-dressed people passed out from inebriation on sidewalks, train platforms, and occasionally on top of plants. There seems something poetic almost about the juxtaposition of office worker, flower and soil. Like seeing early elementary school children riding the trains alone, seeing adults passed out in public makes me reflect on how rarely we can feel free, unguarded and safe in United States and European cities.

In both cases, Japanese hardly notice that these things are happening. It’s just normal and “OK.”


  1. WOW… amazing what you find growing in green spaces. Interesting to hear how safe and “OK” it was for him to take a snooze there.

    Also interesting to hear the words “Salary Man” to describe a fellow with a office job (did I get that right Jared?).
    Hey… btw… if you run across any tiny Japanese houses I’d love to blog on some of those. Hope all is well, looks like you’re having a great time.


    1. Michael, Thank you for your comment. It is amazing to find a respectable-looking person in a flower bed, with only the foreigners marveling at the incongruity of flower and human together in bed, public sleeping and urban safety.

      “Salary man” is a peculiar Japanese term that refers specifically to the type of old-school employment for men in large corporations with a guaranteed job from college until retirement. This employment bond is in decline in Japan, replaced by downsizing, job hopping and the growing ranks of long-term “temporary workers” who lack job security and benefits. Perhaps the equivalent of salary man in the US are some bank and law firm jobs.

      As to tiny Japanese houses, I will keep my eye out for you. There are many 200 square feet apartments, and I am sure there are some beautiful tiny houses as well. I am a big fan of your tiny house project! All the best, Jared

  2. Are you sure he isn’t dead? His eyes are open.

    Sounds like you are getting in some anthropology with the new position. Look forward to seeing you sometime soon!


    1. Thanks, Kris, for your message. Maybe I was bad not to check his vital signs. The young women sitting next to him only seemed surprised that a foreigner would be curious about such a “normal” flower bed scene.

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