Quiet Photos That Capture Japan’s Loneliness Epidemic

In 2011, Japan’s national census reported that the number of households in the country is increasing steadily while the population is declining. Essentially, there are more single-person households now than ever before, and the number is growing. Loneliness is an epidemic in Japan. According to a 2013 article in The Guardian, “Japan’s under-40s appear to be losing interest in conventional relationships. Millions aren’t even dating, and increasing numbers can’t be bothered with sex. For their government, ‘celibacy syndrome’ is part of a looming national catastrophe. Japan already has one of the world’s lowest birth rates. Its population of 126 million, which has been shrinking for the past decade, is projected to plunge a further one-third by 2060.”

Barcelona-based photographer Paola Zanni captured this sense of isolation in Japan. Using urban and suburban landscapes, Zanni composes everyday scenes that reveal the solitary nature of the country’s population and appear both meditative and desolate. The architecture and quiet spaces are just as essential to the photo as the lonely figures, reflecting each person’s interior state of mind.