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In Japan, People Do a Weird Thing After a Night of Drinking

Officials worry 'road sleeping' is going to lead to more people getting hurt in Okinawa
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2020 11:41 AM CDT

(Newser) – There's a strange phenomenon that has overtaken the Okinawa prefecture in Japan, and police can't figure out a way to stop it. "Road sleeping," or rojo-ne in Japanese, seems to be what people like to do there after a night of drinking, and it means that literally: Intoxicated individuals simply lie down on the sidewalk, along the side of a road, or in the middle of one for a nap, some of them stripping their clothes off before dozing off (SoraNews24 has a few pictures). It's an oddity that seems to be primarily found in this southern prefecture. "I didn't even know the term 'rojo-ne' before coming to Okinawa," the prefecture's police chief tells the Mainichi.

This isn't a rarity, either. Last year, there were more than 7,200 calls to police about people sleeping in the road, with 16 accidents resulting from those incidents. At least three people died. Oddly, the coronavirus pandemic doesn't seem to have put a damper on the street snoozing: From January to June, there were about the same number of calls reporting rojo-ne as there were during the same period last year. Per the Guardian, cops think the cause may be a combo of residents' love of a boozy local rice-based beverage called awamori and the region's warm weather, which is conducive to outdoor sleeping. Warnings on the radio and via a photo exhibit haven't made a big impact, but police are hoping more aggressive crackdowns, including a $470 fine, will help. (Read more strange stuff stories.)

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