Japan's "herbivore" men shun corporate life, sex

Mon Jul 27, 2009 8:40am EDT
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By Yumi Otagaki

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Hotel worker Roshinante has no interest in actively pursuing women, is nonchalant about a career and finds cars a bore -- and he is not alone in opting for a quiet, uncompetitive lifestyle.

Roshinante, 31, who prefers the anonymity of his online handle, is one of a growing group of men dubbed "herbivorous boys" by the media, who are rejecting traditional masculinity when it comes to romance, jobs and consumption in an apparent reaction to the tougher economy.

Forget being a workaholic, corporate salary-man. These men, raised as the economic bubble burst, are turning their backs on Japan's stereotypical male roles in what is seen as a symptom of growing disillusionment in their country's troubled economy.

"Since I was a child, I hated people telling me, 'Behave like a man'," said Roshinante, who runs a forum on popular Japanese social network site Mixi for frank discussion about herbivores.

For decades, Japanese men were expected to work full-time after graduating from high school or college, marry and support their wife and children.

Roshinante, a university graduate, has no plans to follow that path.

"I don't think my parents' way of life is for me," he said in a telephone interview. "I still struggle between the traditional notion of how men should be and how I am."

Almost half of 1,000 men aged 20-34 surveyed by market research firm M1 F1 Soken identified themselves as "herbivorous," defined literally as grass-eating but in this context as not being interested in flesh or passive about pursuing women.   Continued...

<p>Pedestrians in Tokyo's central business district in a file photo. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon</p>