One of Japan's most prestigious institutions, Kyoto University, has installed new lunchroom seats for students who don't want others to watch them while they eat. Alone.
The seats are called "bocchi seki" (ぼっち席), with "bocchi" meaning "alone" in Japanese.
According to Asahi News, Kyoto University first installed the "lonely seats" last spring at its engineering school campus while it was refurbishing the dining hall. The university special ordered 10 dining tables with 50-centimeter dividers in the middle.
The lonely seats are apparently popular with students, Asahi reports. Students are busy, and they don't always have time to meet with friends. Also, for some people, eating alone is not enjoyable. It's nice to have some privacy when you do.
"If you are sitting at a big table by yourself it's like you don't have any friends and that is embarrassing," said one 22-year-old male student. "When I don't have much time or I'm in a hurry, the lonely seats are convenient," said a 22-year-old female student.
Kobe University has also installed its bocchi seats, helping students avoid uncomfortable dining hall experiences. Now, if only they'd install side dividers so that lonely diners don't have to rub elbows with the people next to them.
視線気にせずおひとりさま 京大学食「ぼっち席」人気 [Asahi]