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Japan's 'super solo' culture


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
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As we are heading towards 2021, the BBC takes a look at essential Japan stories in 2020. The first one - and a very interesting read - is an article on Japan's super solo culture, the ohitorisama movement.

Loosely translated, “ohitorisama” means something like “party of one”. Search for the hashtag on Instagram in Japanese and you’ll find hundreds of thousands of photos: plated restaurant meals for one, cinema hallways, pitched tents at campgrounds or transport shots highlighting solo adventures. In the last 18 months particularly, more and more people have been declaring their love of ohitorisama alone time in both the news and social media.

One recent innovation is “hitori yakiniku”. Meaning “grilled meat”, yakiniku usually involves sitting around a gridiron at a restaurant table with a group of people and communally cooking mountains of chicken, beef or pork. But with ohitorisama, the only one grilling (and eating) all that meat is you. Even karaoke is going solo – a huge change to the classic Japanese pastime. “Demand for single-person karaoke has increased to account for 30 to 40% [of all karaoke customers],” says Daiki Yamatani, a sales manager who does PR for the 1Kara solo karaoke company in Tokyo. In Japan, karaoke spots are everywhere, often big buildings with several floors of private karaoke rooms built for groups of various sizes. But demand from solitary singers has been growing, and so 1Kara swapped large group rooms for phone booth-sized personal recording studios.

Other pieces cover White Day ("White Day: Japan’s reverse Valentine’s Day") and virtual bloggers ("The virtual vloggers taking over YouTube"). Nice reading over the holidays. :)
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