“Over New Year,” a 30-year-old woman tells Shukan Asahi (March 27), “I rented a hotel suite and spent the night there all by myself, drinking wine in a bubble bath and reading a magazine.” She smiles. “Very elegant, don’t you think?”
Very. The key word is “all by myself” -- which is how, Shukan Asahi finds, a growing number of women prefer to spend their time. It’s not that they don’t have friends and significant others. It’s that -- well, who needs them? Their presence only spoils that certain special atmosphere you can only create in solitude.
Example follows example. A working woman with a 2-year-old daughter has to hire a babysitter anyway, so when she finishes work early, she treats herself to a solitary sushi dinner and then goes out for a drink or two. A 26-year-old Kansai-area freeter penny-pinches her meager earnings as best she can, and then, when she has enough, she treats herself to a first-class restaurant meal. “Once I took the day off and went to Yokohama for a full-course French dinner. At the restaurants I like best,” she says, “I prefer to be alone.”
Doesn’t dining alone feel… well, lonely?
“No way,” she says. “Alone, you can really savor the taste of your food. You can take as much time as you like. With no friend or lover present, you can, for a while, live entirely for yourself.”
Shukan Asahi uses the expression “good at being alone,” as though it were a skill. If it is, more and more women are acquiring it -- or maybe they were born with it.
“There are two main reasons,” says Tokyo University professor Chizuko Ueno, author of a book on the subject, “for the proliferation of ‘o-hitori-sama’” -- the neologism coined to describe women soloing out on the town. “First, women have stronger social skills than men” -- which presumably give them confidence to venture alone into the sort of place where everyone else is matched with somebody. “Secondly, a woman is conventionally expected to adjust her behavior to the mood of her companion. It’s very stressful. No wonder they’ve come to think, ‘It’s more fun alone!’”
A staffer at a karaoke box in Tokyo’s Shibuya has noticed over the past two or three years a growing number of women coming in alone. “Now,” he says, these solitary women “make up 30% of our business.”
One of them is a third-year college student, who explains it this way: “When you’re with other people, you can only sing songs everyone knows, or songs that the others are in the mood for. You end up not singing what you want to sing. To work off the stress that builds up, I’ll come again on another day to sing alone.”
Then there’s the 25-year-old office worker whose idea of the perfect date is to leave her boyfriend at home and go where she wants to go by herself.
“I like the sort of places where people go on dates,” she tells Shukan Asahi. “He hates them. Sometimes he’ll let me drag him along, but it’s always, ‘This is no fun,’ ‘Let’s go home already.’ So I go on dates by myself. I’ll go to a nice place for lunch, then maybe to a planetarium, and then I’ll go to Yokohama for dinner at Chinatown.”
“I have a boyfriend, but to be honest,” says another young woman, putting the essence of the solitary social life in a nutshell,” it’s more fun without him.”© Japan Today