On Caring About Your Lonely Friends in Japan

Some people are born lonely. As a lonely person, articulating this difference can be difficult. Lonely people seem depressed to non-lonely people, and sometimes we are. We are perfectionists, striving for an impossible level of connection and disregarding anything that falls short. We are wary of new people, who require a lot of energy. It’s tiring for lonely people to extend themselves into non-loneliness, too hard to finesse anything less than a perfect click of personalities.

This Japanese Life.


Not everyone who moves to Japan is lonely when they arrive, but most are by the time they leave. One can’t reasonably complain about it, of course: We do it to ourselves. But we can try to understand how loneliness works – and we have plenty of opportunity to study that question in Japan.

Most people do not move to a foreign country where they don’t speak a word of the language, but most people are not conditioned toward loneliness. Lonely people are basically social telecommuters: It doesn’t matter where we are, because we’ll feel lonely anyway. May as well get some decent matcha while we’re at it.

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