Japanese drinkers sleep in the street after heavy booze sessions

One for the road: Japanese drinkers take to sleeping in the street after heavy booze sessions – prompting police to call for an end to the craze

  • Practice of rojo-ne – literally sleeping in the street – happens often in Okinawa
  • Island’s warm climate and strong local drink have been blamed for the crisis
  • More than 7,000 cases were recorded last year, with 2,702 counted this year

Walk around late at night in Okinawa, Japan, and you may stumble upon drinkers snoring in flowerbeds, pavements – and in the middle of the road.

Local police counted more than 7,000 cases of the phenomenon known as rojo-ne – literally sleeping in the road – last year.

And lockdown doesn’t appear to have put off revellers, with 2,702 cases recorded between January and June this year.

They have called for an end to the practice – backed by the local baseball team Ryukyu Golden Kings.

Local police counted more than 7,000 cases of rojo-ne last year, and lockdown didn’t manage to put off revellers either. The phenomenon happens in Okinawa, Japan

Authorities said that some revellers are so intoxicated that they take their clothes off and fall asleep in the street, thinking that they have already made it home

Although normally harmless, the habit has previously resulted in deaths. Last year 16 people were hit by cars as they lay in the road, with three losing their lives.

Tatsuo Oshiro, head of the area’s police traffic division, has led calls for the practice to be halted.

He told The Guardian that officers would show little mercy to habitual offenders while calling on residents to moderate their drinking.

‘Don’t get me wrong, alcohol isn’t bad,’ he said. ‘It’s just bad to drink to excess.’

Drinkers are often so intoxicated that they believe they are home when they lie-down to snooze in the street, authorities said, and in some cases have removed their clothes.

Southern Okinawa’s warm climate – compared to the chilly conditions in Tokyo – are believed to be to blame as they make it comfortable for many to sleep outside.

But the ‘laid-back’ culture on the island and local drink Awamori, famous for its high alcohol content, have also been named as possible culprits. 

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