In The Land of Group Harmony, doing things by yourself is almost un-Japanese. But because Japan is also the country which offers a hot spring resort for dogs, a store that only sells big red underwear for people over sixty, wine matched to your blood type, a club for people who gather in the park every weekend dressed like Elvis, and A Perfect Bar For Bananafish, it was only a matter of time before a few businesses began to cater to Forever Alones.
One Person Karaoke (in which you get a room to yourself and can belt out your favorite tunes as though you were in your very own shower, but with better back-up) and One Person Yakiniku (in which you are given a chair at a counter – so you don’t have to face an empty seat all night – and your own personal grill for cooking your meat just the way you like it) have joined the traditional venues of net cafés, ramen restaurants and comic book stores to make Forever Alones feel as though they aren’t, well, alone.
Of course there are still a few things that Japanese people would rather be boiled in hot tempura oil than do solo. Chief among them are:
#1: Going to Disneyland alone (okay, hard to argue with that one)
#2: Having a BBQ alone (perhaps they haven’t considered the More For Me aspect)
#3: Going to the beach alone (wouldn’t make ME reach for the hemlock, but since this is considered one of the top Japanese “romantic things to do on a date'” I guess I can see how it might not be top of the list for those without one)
#4: Watching fireworks alone (yeah, okay, kill me now)
#5: Going to a bar alone (which in Japan means drinking alone and going home alone, since everyone else is there with groups of friends and in no need of new acquaintances, so yeah, staying home and watching all three Lord Of The Rings movies back to back might be preferable).
On the other hand, in a world filled with social media, who’s to know you’re actually alone? You could always go by yourself and…
Two bottom photos from http://portal.nifty.com/kiji/130801161315_1.htm
Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Tokyo
Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!