Japan is suffering from a phenomenon known as “umi-banare” — literally, “moving away from the sea” — whereby fewer and fewer people visiting Japan’s beaches to take advantage of one the country’s great natural resources as an archipelago.
One recent survey by the Nippon Foundation found that surprisingly over 40% of teenagers did not feel an affinity or connection with the sea to some degree, as opposed to just over 20% for respondents aged in their sixties. Clearly a generational rift is opening up.
In the age of Instagram, young people don’t want to deal with getting sand or saltwater in their clothes and hair, or worry about losing their pale skin (generally seen as a sign of beauty in Japan). Instead, they want to enjoy the summer while getting some great snaps for their feed.
A new activity has risen up to fill this need: night pool parties.
These after-dark events, which cost several thousand yen to enter, are held in hotels and other venues in major urban centers such as Odaiba in Tokyo Bay, meaning young people can get there and back more easily than actual beaches. The night pool parties combine visual spectacle with the cooling-down effects of the water as well as the chance to mingle with others (perhaps especially members of the other sex).
Rather than swimming, visitors are expected to mill around in the water in their swimwear with a drink and smartphone ever at the ready. The pools are typically filled with balls and variously sized inflatable slides and other attractions while music, foam, and lighting create a fun atmosphere, especially for groups of friends.
While not original to Japan, the night pool parties trend started last summer and this year have particularly gained in popularity, especially among women in their twenties.
Summer 2017 is all but over, so all eyes will be on 2018 to see if this trend continues.
Images and video via Kai-You