Monday, June 15, 2009

Japan's herbivores

I'm interested in Japanese youth - particularly how they consume (see my Atlantic piece on that subject), but also how they think. The social changes in Japan are fascinating right now - young Japanese I talk to have a completely different approach to life than their parents. What kind of country does that create? Is it one where people are more free to pursue whatever lifestyle they want, where they feel less judged not following the traditional path of cram school-university-job-marriage-children-30 years of long hours-retirement? I'm also interested in how this generation is pursuing more inwardly-focused hobbies - a lot of online games, of course, but also Japanese traditional crafts, and domestic travel rather than the status-trip to Honolulu. One Japanese man told me that he and his friends have no interest in holding down regular jobs - their parents will support them, and any extra money they need they can earn easily, by working at convenience stores or in Japanese pubs. Another swathe of young Japanese earn their keep by selling manga to each other in Akihabara and elsewhere. Anyway, I've written a piece about part of this phenomenon for Slate here. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. (Image by Robert Neubecker courtesy of Slate.)