Japan's literature of loneliness depicts solitude as a noble state

As pitches for Friday night television drama go, "Unmarried, middle-aged businessman crosses the country for work and talks to himself as he eats alone" does not scream sure-fire hit. Nevertheless, Kodoku No Gurume (The Lonely Gourmet) - a masterpiece of Japan's emerging genre of solitude propaganda - is now into its seventh season.

Kodoku No Gurume does not yet have many imitators on TV. But its central theme - the conscious relishing of isolation - is shared by a deluge of recently published books, several of which have spent months atop the bestseller charts in Japan.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2018, with the headline 'Japan's literature of loneliness depicts solitude as a noble state'. Print Edition | Subscribe