lifestyle

Survey: Almost 40% of Japanese men reluctant to eat alone in public

34 Comments
By Evie Lund, RocketNews24

Apparently, some Japanese men really don’t like to eat alone in public. But are they simply too shy, or is there something else going on?

If you’ve ever popped into a fast food restaurant, conveyor-belt sushi joint, or beef bowl eatery in Japan, you’ll see plenty of people dining alone. In fact, the practice is so widespread, you’d be forgiven for thinking that eating alone is the done thing here. Indeed, many restaurants seem to cater specifically to solo diners, with some even incorporating special seats designed to accommodate one person only.

But a recent survey has shown that quite a hefty percentage of Japanese males actively avoid eating in public places when they’re by themselves.

In the online survey conducted by Life Media, 37.1% of men polled claimed to actively avoid eating alone in restaurants. Of these, 22.6% claimed to have “reservations” about doing so, while 9.1% claimed to have “significant reservations” about eating in public alone. A further 5.4% responded that they would never eat alone in public “under any circumstances”.

However, while some people might avoid doing certain things such as eating out or seeing a movie alone out of sheer embarrassment, Japan’s men have a different reason for avoiding dining solo, and unsurprisingly, that reason is financial.

It seems that many working salarymen, some of whom may receive only a small allowance from their own salary doled out by their wife for incidentals, simply don’t want to spare the expense of eating out when they could just go home after work. Even though eating out in Japan at someplace like Yoshinoya or Sukiya is usually quite cheap, it’s still money that many aren’t willing to pay when it’s just them.

Source: Infoseek Rakuten News via Hachima Kiko

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34 Comments
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I'm glad that eating alone is not that strange in Japan, despite the article. I come from the States and aside from coffee it's still pretty strange to see someone eating alone in a restaurant. Back before I had kids I liked having the occasional lunch out alone. Nice to have a little time to yourself.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

All men should have enough self confidence to eat alone.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

It seems that many working salarymen, some of whom may receive only a small allowance from their own salary doled out by their wife for incidentals, simply don’t want to spare the expense of eating out when they could just go home after work.

Something does click here, if these guys are so worried and go home where do they get the money to go out and drink?

(Another fallacy in today's Japan, these salaryman doesnt have the money to drink like the old days and companies can not afford to pay for the entertainment as they once did. Good on them for going home. Next thing they should concentrate on is WHAT they do when they get there! Like Japan's population could use a boost!)

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Have some confidence and take pride in eating alone, you sissies! I'm eating out alone all the time and I salute restaurants who welcome that.

On the contrary I've been to some restaurants alone where it was a total drama because the staff obviously couldn't fathom that somebody would come to their restaurant to eat alone. The perplexity was written in the staffs' faces! Oh my god! a single guest! Where are we going to seat him? What should we do if he orders food? What if other (non-single) guests are offended by him? ... total debacle and very bad impression! Will never visit again, not even together with other people!

7 ( +11 / -4 )

All men should have enough self confidence to eat alone.

CORRECTION: Real men have enough confidence to eat alone.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

What's all this 'real men' rubbish? Some people don't like eating alone in public. Nothing strange about that.

Eating lunch alone might be unavoidable at times, but eating alone after work when you've got a family to go home to is just sad. Spending money on 'eating out' (=in a proper restaurant, not just grabbing a hamburger on the fly between appointments) alone is both sad and selfish. Go home and eat with the family, or pick the missus up and take her out for a meal.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Go to a restaurant with bar. Problem solved.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Or a diner

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A restaurant in my town would not let you eat alone. Had to be two or more people. They closed down after 8 months.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Same here savetheG, that's one of the things i love about Japan. There is nothing strange eating alone at the counter alongside couples or other ppl on their own, nice mix. Not so much in oz or western europe i would say.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I sometimes drop into my local izakaya alone and have a beer and a meal at the counter while reading the paper. People know me and don't bother me with "Where are you from/do you like natto/do you like Japanese girls? No coworkers talking about work and precious time to myself.

Bliss.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

A.N.Other: "CORRECTION: Real men have enough confidence to eat alone."

It's already stated in the article that the true reason for most men is financial -- they don't see why they should spend the money and eat alone when they can just go home and save that little pittance.

If it's about money, then fine. If not, I think that's a shame. There are times when I go out to eat alone because I want time to myself, and during those times the LAST thing I want is to talk to anyone. Other times there's nothing I like more than to go out with my wife and/or friends to eat/drink. There's nothing embarrassing about eating out alone, going to a movie alone, or even going to karaoke or something. I feel sorry for people who feel they cannot do it for one reason or another.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Going home to my family after work is a priority so would never have dinner on the way home from work.

Next week I have to go to another city for a 3 day course. Will stay in the hotel at company expense and dinner is paid for if I eat at the hotel. There may be others there like me keen for dinner/drinks in the hotel, but if not happy to have a steak on my own and then head up to my room to watch tv.

Happy to eat on my own but only if I am away from my family.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

All men should have enough self confidence to eat alone. exactly I use to regularly go to the movies and then eat out at my favourite shops. Going with a friend does have its better points but when you just want to chill out with no distractions going it alone is great. I was a only child until I was 13yrs old some people may feel sad at this fact when in reality it taught me many skills/confidence on doing things on my own without help. Id happily and have done many times past travel solo to almost any country in the world for sightseeing and business .

2 ( +4 / -2 )

"A restaurant in my town would not let you eat alone. Had to be two or more people. They closed down after 8 months."

I'm not surprised.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

cleoFEB. 14, 2016 - 09:41AM JST Eating lunch alone might be unavoidable at times, but eating alone after work when you've got a family to go home to is just sad.

Many don't have much choice. Half of the people in Japan are unmarried or have no partners. There is no family to go home to.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

When I was single man before, I have usually gone to restaurant alone, e.g. Osho, Yoshinoya, Ramen restaurant etc... I didn't care what other people around me thought. But after getting mariage, I don't wanna go to there alone because I feel lonely. Cafe or morning time is acceptable for me but I cannot endure lunch or dinner time with other families.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

All men should have enough self confidence to eat alone.

Why is it a man thing? All people should have the confidence to eat alone. But having the confidence to do something doesn't mean you have to like it.

I have enough self-confidence to go to the dentist when I have to, doesn't mean I enjoy it.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

As a single man, I don't mind eating out by myself, although I don't do it frequently. Movies and concerts are totally different - I enjoy going to those events by myself, and do so on a weekly basis.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Solo dining is an art. Not everyone is skilled at the refinements. Tablets solve all the anxiety, same as newspapers or books. One's perch is critical, out of sight but seeing all is ideal.

The article seems very specific, however, this isn't about comfort, it's about money.

The salary man has other priorities as well. Anyone who has time to dine alone should probably have spent it at his desk and at lower cost. Pity but true.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@cleo To be fair, the article is about men, though I agree with your sentiment.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

why is this even a topic?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

why is this even a topic?

Precisely, I sometimes enjoy going to a cafe or restaurant etc. by myself ( with a tablet, book or a magazine ) and couldn' t care less what anyone thinks about it , be it in Japan or anywhere else. Alone time is important for me to relax. There is a time for that just as there is for going out and enjoying spending time with family or friends. What other customers or staff think about it, doesn`t concern me one bit.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Futaro, this becomes a subject because in Japanese, the cultural norms probably discourage people from eating alone in a sit-down restaurant. I really wonder does this explain the popularity of noodle shops in Japan, where the stigma against eating alone is not such an issue.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Why is this even an issue? What's so odd about going to a restaurant by yourself?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Real big news, this.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Oh really? It's because they wanna save money.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

did anyone actually read the article? It's not out of embarrassment or lack of manliness, it's because of money. Read before you comment

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

cleo: "Why is it a man thing?"

I highly doubt the person who said it meant men only and not people in general, but was referring to the topic of men eating alone.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"I really wonder does this explain the popularity of noodle shops in Japan, where the stigma against eating alone is not such an issue." - comments

Mmmmm, Nooo-dle Shop.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I cannot even imagine why a man would have trouble eating alone. I enjoy it immensely. With no conversation to uphold, I can focus completely on enjoying the food that I am eating.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

the title of this article is somehow misleading.. without reading the whole story it sounds like Japanese men are shy or don't want to eat alone in public. But the real problem is not that they don't want to, but they simply cannot afford to spend money on themselves like that.

time to pack up some onigiri and go out to a park with family :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I've never been to a restaurant alone. In 50 years. I'd feel weird and ogled. Couldn't enjoy one bite.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I used to often eat alone at stand-up-eating soba/udon noodle shops and gyudon shops until about 20 years ago. But since then, I have been rarely going there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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