746 The rise of Japan’s ‘super solo’ culture

Speech Materals

A decade ago, many Japanese were so embarrassed to be seen eating alone in the school or office cafeteria that they’d opt to eat in a bathroom stall. Appearing friendless was a no-no, leading to what became known as “benjo meshi” – taking a “toilet lunch”.

But many think Japan is changing in a big way. One of those people is Miki Tateishi, a bartender in Tokyo. She works at Bar Hitori, a cosy spot in the Shinjuku nightlife district that is designed for solo drinkers.

The bar, which opened in mid-2018, represents an unusual opportunity in conformity-driven Japan – to go out and drink by yourself. And it’s doing well: instead of hiding in toilet stalls, people are stepping out and embracing being seen solo.

Yet Hitori – hitori means “one person” – is by no means the only example of how businesses are changing to accommodate people who want to do things by themselves. From dining to nightlife to travel, new options catering specifically to individuals have popped up in recent years. It’s known as the “ohitorisama” movement: people boldly choosing to do things alone, the opinions of others be damned.

I – Word Understanding
Cosy – (British of cozy) small but comfortable and friendly
Conformity – behaving the same with people in the society
Embracing – accepting

II – Have Your Say
1, Have you observed solo goers on the following activities? How do you feel about doing so?
a, Bar / drinking
b, Restaurant
c, Karaoke
d, Cinema / movies
e, Museum / exhibits
f, Trip / adventure
2, How do you feel about the pressure of getting married and having kids? What changed this situation?
3, These days, not only young people live alone. Even old people opt to live alone. What are the factors causing the huge change in your society?

746 The rise of Japan’s ‘super solo’ culture

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