Japan is big on seasonality.Like the blossoming of the cherry trees, each year sees certain repeating situations for which popular opinion holds the best way to spend is “with your boyfriend.
However, not every woman in Japan has a special guy in her life, which can be all the more of a downer when you keep hearing about how romantic those particular times of year are.
Christmas was a frequent survey response, and while plenty of singles around the world get the blues waiting for Santa alone, things are on a whole different level in Japan, where Christmas Eve is the biggest date night of the year. There’s also the fact that Japanese cities go all out with their Christmas light displays, so there’s no way to avoid being reminded that the big day is just around the corner, and you still don’t have a date lined up.There is, however, an upside to being single in Japan at Christmas. The standard Christmas Eve dinner in Japan is fried chicken, which while undeniably delicious, is just the sort of oily, messy thing most people don’t look particularly attractive eating. Freed from the concerns of maintaining demure composure, though, singles can enjoy their bird with gusto.
Unfortunately, singles receive another blow to the spirit just a week later on New Year’s Eve. While traditionally people go back to their home towns and visit their relatives, you can often spot couples making trips to the local shrine together at the stroke of midnight to pray for a happy year. If being stuck at home has got you feeling frustrated and angry, you can blow off some of that anger by watching one of the mixed martial arts tournaments that are annually broadcast on December 31.
Unattached women aren’t quite out of the lonely winter woods yet, though, as February brings us to Valentine’s Day. While it’s true that in Japan men are the ones who receive gifts and chocolate on February 14, that doesn’t mean it’s any less depressing for the lovelorn women without someone to give them to. Recent years, though, have seen an increase in the number of single women buying confectioners’ fancy Valentine’s creations as a treat for themselves.Oddly enough, March 14’s White Day, in which guys reciprocate for the Valentine’s Day gifts they received, didn’t make the list. Whether this says more about the unselfish nature of women or men’s complete ineptitude at choosing presents is up for debate.
Spring isn’t without a couple of bumps on the lonesome road, though. The school year starts in spring in Japan, as does the business year in most companies. This means new classmates or, given the propensity of human resource departments here to annually shake things up, oftentimes a new set of coworkers. Some women said that in the midst of this interpersonal stability, they longed to have a steady, supportive boyfriend.The annual blooming of the sakura, or cherry blossoms, is one of Japan’s most beloved events, with the whole country watching nightly forecasts on the news as to just when the flowers will bloom. It’s easy to see why, as not only are the sakura beautiful, they’re incredibly romantic, blanketing the country in endless streams of pink petals drifting down in one of those rare, “Wow, Japan really is like anime!” moments.
But not everything about cherry blossom season is romantic. Not being with your boyfriend means you don’t have to worry about the mood being shattered by one of the noisy drunks that often appear in Japan’s parks when the flowers bloom (it also means you don’t have to worry about sabotaging your love life if you yourself become said noisy drunk while at a sakura viewing party).The last vernal problem patch is Golden Week, the string of connected holidays that straddles the end of April and beginning of March. Along with New Year’s and Obon in August, Golden Week is one of Japan’s three longest vacation periods. Unlike the others, though, there’s no established custom of visiting your relatives during Golden Week, and you can only get your group of friends together so many days in a row, meaning singles are often left with a handful of dull days alone at home.
June brings rainy, incredibly humid weather to Japan, making most people miserable regardless of whether or not they’re in a romantic relationship. The heat stays for the entire season, but once the rainy stage passes at the beginning of July, there’s a rush of events.Early August sees the summer vacation period, with couples either heading for the mountains on camping trips or hitting the beach to swim in the sea. But before you turn green with envy at those cheery pairs, remember that being outdoors in the summer also means being at the mercy of the nation’s ravenous mosquito population. And while they can’t follow you into the sea, swimming in the Pacific presents its own problem in Japan: painful stinging jellyfish that appear each summer.There are also festivals going on almost every week in late summer, often with dazzling fireworks shows. Many couples attend these together dressed in yukata, lightweight summer kimono. We’ve got no “but on the other hand” words of encouragement for this one. Yukata dates are awesome, and we totally get the disappointment of having to wait a whole year for another shot.
OK, so is autumn safe, at least? After all, it’s often considered to be a season of quiet introspection. It’s even widely held to be the best season in Japan for relaxing with a good book.But alas, even fall has its days that keep singles’ hearts from soaring, in the form of the numerous three-day weekends and holidays that show up during the season. There’s the Autumnal Equinox in September, Health and Sports Day in October, and both Culture Day and Labor Day in November. Spending one of those curled up on the couch with a new novel isn’t bad, but a late November afternoon, with a cold wind blowing and the darkness of night coming before you know it, can seem awfully lonely for singles.That said, sitting at home alone all day can be pretty depressing for people in a loving relationship, too. Sure, a lot of the events on this list are more enjoyable with someone you love, but that’s not to say they aren’t enjoyable with a group of friends, too. There’s no couples-only policy for the beach in summer, shrines at New Year’s, or parks during cherry blossom season.
Also, unless every guy in Japan is simultaneously dating a half-dozen women (a feat accomplishable by only the most handsome and suave of movie stars and RocketNews24 writers), for just about every single girl, there should be a single guy, somewhere. As long as they’re getting themselves out of the house, too (an admittedly more difficult thing to convince a guy to do, especially if he has beer in his fridge and sports on TV), you just might find that special someone.