Japanese magazine Spa! recently discussed the growth of “creative hobbies” with younger folks in Japan — siting one example as a girl who chose to sleep rough. Given you only need a sleeping bag (at a minimum of 980 yen) it’s dirt cheap, though among the more expensive ones featured in the magazine.
Most of the others are either entirely cost-free—crushing aluminum cans, for instance, or turning pamphlets into model houses—or very nearly so; you can take up pen-twirling for the mere cost of a pen, or public bathing for the standard bath-house admission fee of 450 yen. A depressed economy, in short, is no excuse for not enjoying yourself and nurturing your talents and inclinations. Another person featured in the magazine is a 29-year-old care-giver, who was in high school when she first experienced the joys of sleeping rough. She and a girlfriend had planned a cross-country trip during which the only cost would be food.Starting out in Aomori Prefecture, they walked and walked. By the time they reached Niigata, the friend was fed up. Carrying on by herself, Kato made it to Shimonoseki at the southern tip of Honshu. “I just took to it,” she says.
Another featured hobby is “banquets” in various parks. For those who attend, the best part is not the drinking but drifting off to sleep afterwards under the stars, with no last train to worry about. More of an indoor sort? Maybe bathing is more your thing. Not at home but at “sento” public baths. “You go to the ‘sento’ and see things like a boy rubbing his grandfather’s back, or the old lady receptionist treating everyone to Japanese cakes. It warms the heart. And in the tub everyone’s naked, which means everyone’s equal—rich and poor, Tokyo University grad and junior high school dropout.”
Crushing tin cans underfoot—can that be fun? Some people in Japan have believe so. There is even an “International Can-Crushing Society,” which sponsors competitions all over Japan and as far away as Texas. The key to successful, competitive can-crushing, it says, is “keeping a clear head. If you imagine yourself putting the boot to the face of your hated boss as you bring your foot down, your thoughts will be distracted and the result none too good.”