Friendships are the family we choose. They’re the people you grow through life with, discover new things, set trends and create a culture with. In Japan, you will often see hubs of young Japanese millennials around hotspots in trendy neighborhoods like Dotonbori in Osaka or Shinjuku in Tokyo. To give us some insight on the ever-elusive and ever-trendy culture of young Japanese millennials, we spoke to a local friend, Miu Kataoka, a new college graduate based in Osaka.
Inspiration From the West
The general vibe of youth in Japan is that of forward-thinking, tech-savvy individuals. “Nowadays with the development of technology, almost everyone in Japan owns a smartphone and the use of social media apps such as Instagram, LINE and Twitter are very common,” says Miu. “There is a lot of Western influence on Japanese millennials in all parts of Japanese society. People have become more outspoken, women are more independent and younger people are taking more risks such as joining start-up companies. They also have more opportunities to travel the world, giving them a more open-minded perspective compared to the older generation.”
Trending Spots Around Town
Groups of friends get together “mostly on the weekends but really whenever time permits,” with a tendency to gravitate towards trendy parts of the cities. “For Osaka, it is Dotonbori in Namba and also the huge department stores in Umeda. For Tokyo, it’s Harajuku, Shibuya, Shinjuku.” These places become hotspots because of their high volume of fun, recreational activities (and people watching, of course!). For example, Miu’s favorite things to do in these neighborhoods are to go to “cute cafes, cheap restaurants, sing karaoke, shopping and taking purikura.” Purikura is an ultra-cute photobooth where picture takers can add face filters, stickers and all other things kawaii.
Millennials start the hustle early with “a huge majority starting off with part-time jobs (バイト), mostly working at convenience stores as a cashier, or as a waiter in a café,” says Miu. With flexible schedules and most Japanese youth living at home, earnings from their part-time jobs go straight to celebrating with their friends as often as possible. “People celebrate through small house parties, always texting each other through LINE, holding birthday parties for each other and hanging out whenever possible.”