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Is It Typical to Do Things Alone in Japan?

Singing karaoke, going out to eat, taking vacations, and visiting theme parks are typically considered social activities, but if you live alone in Japan -- or simply want some "me time" -- you'll find plenty of opportunities to do these things (and more) all by yourself. In what is being described as a "super solo society," Japan is seeing a growing trend of ohitorisama: people are not only living alone, but are also enjoying a range of activities on their own. It should come as no surprise, since more than a third of Japanese households are made up of only one person. And retailers and others are taking the cue. One karaoke company has been adding solo booths to its venues, grocers are packaging more items for single diners, movie theaters are offering partitioned seats for lone viewers, and theme parks are giving solo visitors the chance to jump to the front of the line for some rides.

The trend is part of a changing society in which marriage is becoming less commonplace and social media is so overwhelmingly ubiquitous that breaking free from all the constant contact is something to enjoy. One popular ramen chain allows customers to come in, order from a vending machine, and then find a booth where they can enjoy their noodles -- all without dealing with other customers or even servers.

A virtual journey to Japan:

  • Japan has more McDonald's restaurants than any other country in the world except the United States.
  • Japan is an archipelago of more than 6,800 islands, but four of them contain 97 percent of the nation's total land mass.
  • In Japanese, the country is known as Nippon or Nihon, which means "sun origin," hence the country's nickname as the "Land of the Rising Sun."
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