There's a popular TV show in Japan named “The Solitary Gourmet”, which remains as guilty pleasure to watch for many Japanese salarymen. In the entertainment programme, a fictional character named Goro Inogashira will eat in the Western coastal area of Setouchi.
Played by Yutaka Matsushige, the actor who plays Inogashira, he travels around the country. He tried various dishes from grilled beef tongue in Sendai to chicken hot pot in Fukuoka. All by himself.
The concept of the TV show might sounds boring for us. But surprisingly many Japanese, even young people, find it amusing.
Indeed, eating alone is socially accepted in Japan. Nobody will bother you by asking, “Why are you eating alone? Don't you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?”. Hence, 50% of people in Japan eat alone. It's becoming a rather new norm!
Japan is absolutely a great country for solo diners. Japanese people think it's good to spend quality time with your food. Hence, it seems to leading the way in the art of solo dining, since there are many places to eat that suit the singleton.
Here are some places to eat alone while in Japan:
It's a chain of restaurants that serve a bowl of ramen noodles in complete solitude. There are a series of “flavour concentration” booths! Every customer can arrive, eat and leave without having an interaction with anyone.
Apart from that, plenty of ramen restaurants provide table for one. Hence, counter seating may be more common than table seating. With picture descriptions of the menu, customers can simply point out their order. In some modern restaurants, customers can select their desired dish on a screen. Just like that, no human interaction needed!
Conveyor belt sushi restaurant
Although there's no individual tables, solo diners can simply take a seat at the counter. The food has already been prepared, so you can choose whatever you like. Other customers or the chefs usually won't bother you, so you can eat alone peacefully.
A kind of authentic Japanese dining experience. Izakayas are equivalent with gastropub, but they have more light-hearted atmosphere. Thus, eating alone is also a standard practice here. You will find many Japanese salarymen who are chilling alone after work.