Rise of the Japanese "Herbivores"

There's a peculiar trend afoot that bucks the macho man culture in Japan: young men who are heterosexuals but say they aren't interested in girls.

Away from the strutting are the retiring wallflowers, a quiet army of sweet young men with floppy hair and skinny jeans. These young men are becoming known as Japan's "herbivores" — from the Japanese phrase for "grass-eating boys" — guys who are heterosexual but who say they aren't really interested in matters of the flesh.

They are drawn to a quieter, less competitive life, focusing on family and friends — and eschewing the macho ways of the traditional Japanese male.

They include men such as Yukihiro Yoshida, a 20-something economics student, who is a self-confessed herbivore. "I don't take initiative with women, I don't talk to them," he says, blushing. "I'd welcome it if a girl talked to me, but I never take the first step myself."

Multiple recent surveys suggest that about 60 percent of young Japanese men — in their 20s and early 30s — identify themselves as herbivores. Their Sex and the City is a television show called Otomen, or Girly Guys. The lead character is a martial arts expert, the manliest guy in the whole school. But his secret passions include sewing, baking and crocheting clothes for his stuffed animals.

Don't we simply used to call these guys nerds? Louisa Lim of NPR has the story: Link (Photo: Louisa Lim/NPR)


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I think we need to consider it from a Japanese point of view here. The Japanese have fairly rigid (by western standards anyway) gender roles and expectations of people to fulfill their gender roles. I think what we are seeing here is a manifestation of people breaking out of their gender roles and embracing the characteristics that don't fit into those roles.

For example, my father in law stayed with a Japanese family for a home-stay recently and the lady-of-the-house was horrified when he tried to clean up and help with the washing up. She said that it was women's work and that he shouldn't do it.

That being said I love this part 'In the streets of Harajuku, Alex Fujita explains why he is not interested in taking it [relationships with women] any further.

"Nowadays, women have more education and enjoy working. Women are scary now," he says.'

What I love about his comment is this - He is happy to break out of his gender role but finds it uncomfortable for women to break out of theirs. Consider what he is saying. He's not saying that the women are agressive or uncouth; he is saying that women are educated and like to work which makes them 'scary' to him.
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I believe Eri is right about asexual. Their preference is no sexual interest.

However, someone like SenorMysterioso is what is called a 'douche-bag.' Their preference is no interest in thinking.
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