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Japan’s Almost-Benches

Ewa Nowogorski

If you’re not from a big city there are a few anomalies that you might spot while visiting one. A leaning bench is one of them. Usually situated right next to normal benches, these unique benches are not designed to be sat on so much as leaned on.

You will usually only see them at bus stops or train station platforms, and you may spot the occasional elderly person leaning against one of these. I remember first seeing one and being confused for a second, but then immediately intuitively understood their functionality. In areas where space is limited and the local government cannot afford to take up space and let the tired sit, these are decent alternatives.

I can imagine old people particularly liking these benches, because fully sitting down might take a toll on their knees and make it hard for them to stand back up. But these guys let you rest without forcing you down.

One other reason for the installation of these benches is an effort to keep the numbers of people sleeping on benches down. Many tired workers will fall asleep at the bus stop or train station after a long day of work, and a normal bench might look too tempting to resist. Leaning benches will ensure that this doesn’t happen, decreasing the risk of injury and crime for people who misuse public facilities.

I myself don’t particularly enjoy benches, but I don’t mind seeing these strange things every once in a while.

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