Have you heard of a Japanese word ‘Bocchi meshi’? Bocchi means ‘alone’ and meshi means ‘meal’ in this context; then Bocchi meshi means ‘eating a meal by yourself’. Anybody anywhere eats meals alone from time to time and you might think that this is nothing special, right? The word, Bocchi meshi, often appears in the Japanese media because this could be a keyword to see issues throughout the Japanese society.
An interesting article related to Bocchi meshi (the link is here, written in Japanese) I read yesterday starts with somebody’s observation in a toilet of the company she works at. She has noticed quite a lot of rubbish in the toilet, which was seemingly some sorts of wrappers of food. It turned out that quite a few people (company employees) eat their lunch in a toilet; here you can see, Bocchi mechi indicates some social issues!
The article does not give a particular analysis on why those people choose to eat lunch there, but it indicates that people are possibly scared to be seen eating lunch alone (it might look the person has no friend; therefore, s/he is a social loser!); to maintain their cool image, they hide themselves in a toilet eating lunch.
This article is not just about eating lunch alone but also about social isolation and possible solutions for that. The article mentions a practice that an IT company has done to deal with its employees’ isolation issues. What has the company done? – they have set up a communal cafe. An innovative part of this cafe is that the company has been operating the place; they did not invite some hospitality company and ask them to run a cafe there. Volunteers in the company, including IT engineers, take a turn being a service person at the cafe. This setting creates opportunities for people to mingle with each other and helps them refresh and relax. Apparently, this project has been well received by the employees.
I actually like this idea – to set up our own cafe at a workplace. Should I talk to my colleagues and bosses about it now???