Reasons Why The Japanese are Winning the ‘Social Distance’ Game

A group-oriented country has now embraced the culture of doing things alone. Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

A society is built by socializing. But during these trying times, humanity is forced to change some norms for the greater good of everyone. Distancing yourself for a while is not bad. In fact, isolation is nothing new for the Japanese. Practicing social distance seems vague for now but Japan’s “ohitorisama” culture will make you feel the liberating experience of being alone.

Ohitorisama or have it your own way is favoring doing activities solo. The values of ohitorisama are widespread in Japan, from grocery stores that sells condiments and vegetables for single diners to bars that have a ‘solo’ only policy.

You’ll find the ohitorisama hashtag on Instagram filled with plated restaurant meals for one, cinema hallways, pitched tents at campgrounds, or transport shots highlighting solo adventures as if it is a feed of a perfectly social distanced person. In this article, Tokyo Grand Renovation will feature some of the social distance norms in Japan.


From the moment you set foot into any Ichiran store, you’ll surely set to believe that this is the perfect outdoor place to practice any type of social distance. You’ll be able to enjoy a heartwarming bowl of ramen in a cubicle type of dining area.

This somewhat odd concept of the solo-dining booth has proven quite successful. Photo courtesy of Unsplash

It’s called a “flavor-concentration booth,” and it’s not for the claustrophobic. Popularized by the Ichiran chain of restaurants in Japan, “low-interaction dining” lets customers order food (usually some form of noodles) with as little human connection as possible.

Upon sitting down, the screen goes up enough to cover the server’s face, and you are handed an order sheet. The only thing you see is the server’s hands that still indeed practices social distance. Photo courtesy of Guidable.

When ordering your food, you will be presented with a ticket machine just like any other ramen store. Then at your concentration booth, behind those bamboo curtains is the kitchen area where they directly serve your meal. It is advised that the employees will give you minimal interaction as much as possible. Indeed a perfect place to practice social distance.

“Businesses are offering various goods and services in response to the trend for people to enjoy activities alone,” Matsushita.

Founded in Fukuoka in 1960, Ichiran believes isolation eating helps people focus on their food. It eliminates the need for exchanging saccharine pleasantries with servers or companions. Most importantly, it helps fight the stigma of dining alone.


Currently, Dianum has been making a name in Japan for its multi-functional properties.


Karaoke is a type of activity that is usually spent with other people. However, ‘hitokara’ or short for alone karaoke rose in popularity in which a usual room for eight is now routinely being occupied by one. The karaoke industry couldn’t ignore this trend as 20–30% of karaoke customers were ohitorisama at this point. SEGA was the first to offer special hitokara rooms and other businesses followed suit.

According to Lynda Deaver, the karaoke box itself is just enough room for one person. A big comfy chair sits in front of the karaoke machine, the TV, and the condenser microphone. On top of the karaoke machine is a mixer for the more serious karaoker. The features of these karaoke rooms will make a life under the idea of social distance much easier.

“The depth and range of these services is a reflection of the expanding nature of that trend.” Matsushita

The ohitorisama phenomenon isn’t just about dining and karaoke. An array of businesses, from bowling alleys to travel agencies, now welcome solo customers in settings that traditionally cater to groups. They can reserve partitioned seats at cinemas and jump the queue for popular rides at theme parks.

As the demand for such services grows, the stigma of doing activities alone has decreased. Because of that, we can easily say that the thought of social distance isn’t new anymore. 

Dreaming of having a refreshed, refurbished condo unit? Give it a timeless, positive look with Japanese interior design.  

Tokyo Grand Renovation (TGR) is a design and build specialist when it comes to crafting luxury and functionality in one. Inspired by Japanese philosophy and style, TGR’s headquarters is at 9110 La Campana St. cor. Trabajo St., Brgy. Olympia, Makati City, 1207.   

For inquiries, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 832 16 76, or send an e-mail at

TGRはマカティの高級インテリアデザイン、リノベーション、会社です。TGRは 住宅および商業 スペースの為のデザインと建築を提供 し ております。お問い合わせは 、02832 1676 にお電話いただくか、 電子メール へ送信 お願いします。


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