Sep 21, 2016

    Surprise, surprise! Japanese splurge to give treats


    MORE young people in Japan are choosing not to celebrate birthdays or propose in ordinary ways.

    Instead, they are opting to surprise their friends in lavish ways, such as renting a limousine for a posh birthday party or propose to a loved one at a dance in front of a crowd.

    A 27-year-old woman, for instance, was taken by her friends to a shop to buy a dress, then blindfolded before being led to a white limousine.

    "Happy birthday," her friends exclaimed. "We're having the party in here."

    The inside of the limousine was decked in balloons, and the group sipped wine while enjoying a drive through the city.

    Such a limousine party costs between 6,800 yen (S$91) and 19,800 yen per person.

    According to service provider Anipla, the number of people choosing surprise plans has increased in the last two to three years. This is more evident among people in their 20s and 30s.

    Over 2,500 groups of people make use of the company's services every year, it said.

    Yohei Harada, leader of Hakuhodo Brand Design Youth Life Lab, said the popularity of social media is a reason for the increasing desire of young people to surprise others.

    The sharing of personal information via these sites makes it easy for users to find out people's birthdays or anniversaries, he added.

    Users can also post the surprised reactions of friends on social networking sites.

    "When others hit the like button, it leads to a feeling of validation and increased confidence," he explained.

    "For this reason, more and more people are looking to do something different from everyone else when working out their surprises."

    The popularity of surprises is not limited to birthdays.

    A 26-year-old man went to the expense of hiring a flash mob planning company to arrange for a crowd, including professional dancers, for a surprise marriage proposal to his girlfriend, also 26.

    The "crowd" engaged by the company, At Surprise Japan, burst into a spectacular dance on the streets, after which he popped the question.