Japanese free time and hobbies explained

Why are hula and flamenco so popular with Japanese women?

Because dancing gives a sense of femininity and/ or eroticism that is missing from their romance free lives, and hula and flamenco are better than ballroom dancing because no men are necessary. Spanish and Hawaiian are also two great escape fantasies.

Why are the Japanese quite happy to say “I slept” or “I cleaned my room” as an answer to “How was your weekend?”

For one thing, unlike the UK for example there is no social pressure to do anything useful and educational in your free time. If you want to read kids’ manga or watch 5 hours of variety shows, nobody much minds. Actually, though, they might have done something more interesting but are hiding it in order to avoid speaking in English or not to attract unwelcome attention or envy. One more factor is that saying these things emphasizes the fact that they have been working hard all week- not something that the Japanese try to hide.

If Japanese people are supposed to be shy, how come they practice their golf swings and ballroom dancing moves on the station platform?
Most Japanese people seeing this might also think it is crazy, but for the minority of Japanese who go through life completely unaware of the subtle way in which people express their disapproval, the same systems that keep everyone else in line leave them to be as eccentric as they like. A general acceptance of people taking their hobbies very seriously might also be a factor
If regular pachinko pinball slot machine players have to wear earplugs, why don’t they just turn down the music?
The music both gets the adrenalin going and produces the trance-like stupor that is most of the appeal for a stressed salaryman

Why is tachiyomi (立ち読み-reading standing up in a bookshop or convenience store) such a big thing in Japan?

According to the this week’s From Our Own Correspondent (BBC Radio) it’s also big in France, where the other similarity is the popularity of comics-something you can easily finish in one visit. Once people get into the habit of doing it with comics, I guess it just spreads. Why the shops allow it, however, is still a mystery.


  1. Gavin Young said,

    June 28, 2008 at 3:09 am

    Pachinko Parlors:

    Why don’t pachinko players sue for hearing loss resulting from the obnoxiously noisy parlors? Why doesn’t the government protect these players by forcing the parlors to turn down the noise?

    The same questions go for game parlors.

    People say it’s a leisure activity so the responsibility is with the player but I don’t buy that. We are talking serious hearing damage and the insurance system will be made to pay for it.


    Gavin Young

  2. Brenton said,

    July 23, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Because the Japanese culture doesn’t lend itself to suing the pants off everyone, i suspect.

  3. Andy said,

    September 28, 2009 at 6:43 am

    sono touri da. I once read that Japanese has 1/10th the number of lawyers per capita. Most disputes are settled out of court, often without involving lawyers. In most cultures around the world if something is dangerous, the answer is not to sue but to just not go there. I have seen many places in Japan where a railing would be required for safety standards but there isn’t. The fact that people sue over things they should have known better about is something I hate about American culture (and I am American). Suing should be used to repay the expense of injury in the case of serious incident or to change dangerous policies. All too often suing is seen as a way to get rich quickly. Often companies settle frivolous lawsuits because it’s cheaper than fighting and winning in court. That’s my little rant about that.

  4. Andy said,

    September 28, 2009 at 6:47 am

    Forgot this is in the first post. I appreciate the information about hobbies and free time but often the phrasing is in blanket statements. I generally agree with everything but it’s politically incorrect to describe “Japanese woman,” for example, in one fell swoop as lumping everyone together other-izes them as people.

  5. alexcase said,

    September 28, 2009 at 11:06 am

    “politically incorrect” is a compliment, right?

    More seriously, point taken but this is blog is strictly an unpaid hobby and if I have to write “according to some reports a substantial minority” plus references in all posts I never would have got round to starting the thing. My only claim to usefulness is that this blog is better than nothing, and a majority of readers seem to at least agree with that

  6. ducky said,

    August 23, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Regarding tachiyomi, I was once told that it is just a “freeloading activity”. I don’t know if that is what Japanese people habitually do but apparently if you sit and read, the shop workers expect you to buy the book. So I suppose it’s more “unobliging” if you stand and read.

  7. gaijinass said,

    October 16, 2010 at 5:42 am

    It seems to me that for many of my Japanese friends, having a “Hobby” would be terribly hard. Once it is announced, and it IS announced, that someone has a HOBBY, their friends and co-workers will constantly ask them about it and the shame for most Japanese friends I have to say “Oh well, I haven’t done that for a couple weeks” would be crushing. Having a hobby would be a lot like being in a club in School. Its all-inclusive and very cumbersome. So, many just avoid the word Hobby. Its too much responsibility.

    —-Politically incorrect—–

    Who cares?
    Why is everyone so concerned with being politically correct?
    What a horrible condition to find ones self in. Politicians tell you what you want to hear, and speak in a way so that in the end, they have really made no concrete clear statements at all and this is where being “Politically correct” comes from.

    No thank you.
    I will say what I feel with conviction. If people dislike it, no need to listen.

    • goten said,

      June 3, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      i agree with gaijinass said

  8. general observer said,

    June 4, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    about reading in bookstores: allowing it might be more profitable, if they even occasionally buy a book. also, maybe having store full of people makes your shop seem popular and interesting?

  9. Piper said,

    April 9, 2018 at 10:31 am

    What do Japanese teenagers do in there free time?

    • rafael pereira oliveira rios said,

      June 23, 2019 at 7:26 pm

      play games/read manga on their cellphone,watch terrible japanese tv series and read murakami novels.

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