Some of us have a soft spot for the elderly, even if they aren’t our grandparents.
In fact, two Singaporeans got so emotional seeing some old folk dining alone that they teared up.
Yesterday (Nov 23), local influencer Shannon Taylor, who is currently travelling in Japan with a friend, shared a TikTok video of the pair crying in a Tokyo restaurant.
“Point of view: You put two empaths together in a restaurant full of old people eating alone,” the 24-year-old wrote.
In the video, the women, who were halfway through their meal, were seen dabbing at their eyes with tissue paper and their hands.
As the camera panned around the eatery, a number of elderly people were seen tucking into food at individual tables and eating booths.
P sure everyone there was judging us😫 I love old people😫
Speaking to AsiaOne on Thursday, Taylor said there were over 10 old people in the eatery.
“Most tables [in the restaurant] were taken up by the elderly and most of them were alone,” she said.
Taylor shared that she has a soft spot for the elderly and she often finds herself feeling sad whenever she sees them sitting alone or working in Singapore.
“It’s not because I am pitying them, but because I think that old people should not be working. Instead, they should be enjoying the rest of their lives on this beautiful earth,” she shared.
Taylor added that she understands and admires seniors who choose to continue working because they want to “keep their brains working”.
Seeing old folk eating alone, however, makes her emotional for she lost her grandfather last year. “When I see elderly people around, they remind me of him and I get extremely heartbroken,” she revealed.
Taylor isn’t alone in this. Several netizens commented that they too would have teared up like her had they been in a similar situation.
One said that she cried after seeing an old couple get turned away from a fully booked restaurant.
On the other hand, a netizen said that it was “insulting” the pair had assumed the elderly diners were sad and lonely.
Lonely or part of solo culture?
Years ago, the Japanese were embarrassed about eating by themselves.
In fact, some of them were so afraid of doing so that they would even eat in a bathroom stall to not appear lonely, BBC reported in 2020.
But the times have changed and some Japanese people are now “embracing being seen solo”.
Miki Tateishi, a bartender of a Tokyo bar for solo drinkers, told the broadcaster that the establishment’s “solo only” policy helps potential guests who may wish to shun big groups or regulars.
“Some people want to enjoy being alone, others want to build a new community,” she said.
In other countries, the idea of enjoying alone time may not be as surprising, but for Japan, a country where conformity and being part of a group has been “highly prized”, it is “a big deal”.
One reason why things are changing is due to Japan undergoing a seismic demographic shift, where the birthrate is falling and the number of single-person households is rising, BBC explained.
“The purchasing power of singletons can no longer be ignored,” said Kazuhisa Arakawa, a researcher who writes books about the economics of what he calls Japan’s “super solo society”.
“I believe the market will not grow without capturing these solo customers,” he said.
He also estimated that 50 per cent of Japan’s population aged 15 or older will be living in single-person households by 2040.
No part of this story or photos can be reproduced without permission from AsiaOne.
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