Jaszczuk, who divides his time and work between Warsaw and Japan, told Business Insider that he was living in Tokyo when he began to notice a unique phenomenon.

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In the wee hours of the night, he noticed men dressed in business suits fast asleep on the streets of Tokyo.

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"The contrast between well-dressed men and the street got my attention," Jaszczuk said.

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In 2008, he started photographing the sleeping businessmen that he would come across.

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Jaszczuk's photos show some taking to city benches, fences, and subway platforms to get a little shut eye ...

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... others are shown simply dozing off standing up.

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The more and more he shot, the more common of a phenomenon he said it seemed to be.

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Jaszczuk said the slumbering businessmen are easy to find for the most part, if you know where to look for them.

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He said he knew that perusing nearby train stations and karaoke bars would always prove fruitful.

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"After some research, I knew which areas would be the best, because they are not everywhere," Jaszczuk said.

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And Tokyo's Shinjuku and Shimbashi districts in particular, known for their business, commercial, and entertainment centers, were also full of dozing employees, he said.

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But he would also occasionally find some one-offs elsewhere.

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"That's why I was moving all the time," he said.

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For more than two years, Jaszczuk said he worked almost every night taking photos of the sleeping workers.

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Jaszczuk said he navigated the streets at night by bicycle.

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Biking around "did the job perfectly," he said.

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"I was hunting," he said.

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Although he said he would come across many sleeping businessmen ...

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... he said he didn't include photographs of everyone he found in his series.

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"I am very picky, I was carefully selecting them among many," Jaszczuk said.

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He said that he was looking for style, beauty, and oddity in the slumbering subjects he photographed.

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He compiled the images into a book, "High Fashion," that was published in 2018.

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Source: Amazon

Since he was taking photos at night, Jaszczuk said he needed something to light his subjects.

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He said he always used a flash, albeit a small one.

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Despite the bright flash of light with each shot, he said it didn't bother his subjects.

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"They never woke up, ever," Jaszczuk said.

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"I'm quick, even when there is plenty of time to shoot," he said.

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He said he never had problems of any kind with the sleeping salarymen.

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Neither passersby nor the authorities gave him trouble, either.

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The photographer said that in his photo work, he usually knows what kind of message he wants to convey before embarking on a project.

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But with "High Fashion," it was a bit different.

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"The visual part appears first, the message came later," Jaszczuk said.

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After just the first few photos were taken, Jaszczuk said he began to explore that message: a cultural phenomenon that had these businessmen sleeping on the streets in between work days.

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In fact, Jaszczuk said what he had begun capturing was a symptom of Japan's notorious culture of overwork.

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Source: Business Insider

The culture of overwork can be so intense in Japan that businessmen, called "salarymen" in Japanese culture, have died from overworking themselves.

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Source: Business Insider

There's even a name for the phenomenon: karoshi, which translates to "death by overwork."

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Source: Business Insider

A 2016 report revealed that more than 20% of people in a survey of 10,000 Japanese workers said they worked at least 80 hours of overtime a month.

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Source: Business Insider

The term "inemuri," which translates to "sleeping on duty" or "sleeping while present," describes a cultural phenomenon in Japan that praises napping in public, which implies that an employee has worked him or herself to exhaustion.

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Source: The New York Times

Brigitte Steger, a senior lecturer in Japanese studies at Downing College, Cambridge, told The New York Times that inemuri, a thousand-year-old practice in Japan, is more prevalent in white-collar professions.

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Source: The New York Times

That's because employees are more likely to be sedentary and can afford to doze off in meetings and the like.

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Source: The New York Times

After putting in a long workday, it's also customary for some salarymen in Japan to drink and socialize with their colleagues.

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Source: Business Insider

Jaszczuk told Business Insider that it is socially acceptable in Japan to hit the bars after work.

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Source: Business Insider and Pawel Jaszczuk

But even more than that, Jazczuk said workers can sometimes feel an obligation to drink with their coworkers and bosses after work hours.

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Source: GaijinPot Blog

After too many drinks, and having missed the last train that would take them home, some workers are left stranded in the city center.

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Source: The Guardian

He said when morning comes, he's never seen them awake from their sleep.

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But he's heard that they simply get up and walk back to the office to start the new day.

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As for the men themselves, Jaszczuk said they're a product of their work culture.

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Source: Business Insider

"These men are the victims of modern life in Japan," Jaszczuk told Business Insider.

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Source: Business Insider

He said that they are physically "devastated by the after-effects of working long hours."

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Source: Business Insider

"Don't judge them too [hastily,]" Jaszczuk said.

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While most of the subjects he photographed were fast asleep...

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... even if they were slightly awake, Jaszczuk said he could see how worn out they were.

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"When their faces happen to reflect consciousness at all, we see someone completely used, overworked, and exhausted," Jaszczuk said.

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The cultural expectation in Japan to devote so much time to work is nothing new.

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Source: Business Insider

The karoshi phenomenon, the phrase used to describe overwork-related deaths, dates back to the post-World War II era in the early 1950s.

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Source: Business Insider

Determined to rebuild Japan's economy, the then-prime minister Shigeru Yoshida turned to major corporations to incentivize workers into devoting more time to their work.

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Source: Business Insider

The plan clearly worked, since Japan's economy is now the third largest in the world.

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Source: Business Insider

But an unintended side effect was an ailment spurred by the burdensome levels of stress and exhaustion.

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Source: Business Insider

Strokes and heart failure became more common for Japanese employees.

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Source: Business Insider

Decades later, karoshi-related deaths are still occurring.

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Source: Business Insider

Most recently, a 31-year-old journalist named Miwa Sado died of heart failure in July 2013 after reportedly logging 159 hours of overtime in a one-month period.

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Source: Business Insider

Her death was determined to be karoshi in October 2017.

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Source: Business Insider

When employees' deaths are classified as karoshi, Japanese corporations are forced to pay a fine.

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Source: Business Insider

Sado's employer only had to pay what amounts to $5,000 USD in fines following her death.

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Source: Business Insider

The Japanese government has taken some measures to increase a work-life balance in addition to implementing fines on corporations whose employees die of karoshi-related causes.

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Source: Business Insider

One of them is a Premium Friday plan launched in 2017 that would give workers the option to leave at 3 p.m. on the last Friday of each month.

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Source: Business Insider

But it's seen little success.

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Source: Business Insider

Working overtime remains a pervasive aspect of corporate culture in Japan.

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Source: Business Insider

Jaszczuk said he wanted his photos to convey that.

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"I want to say something when something needs to be said," Jaszczuk said.

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He said he felt it necessary to bring attention to how overstressed Japanese workers are regularly.

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"The images provoke, irritate, and inform at the same time," Jaszczuk said.

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