The grass-eating boys of Japan

The young men, called herbivores, don’t want sex


The grass-eating boys of JapanHerbivore: a Japanese man who saves money, shuns sex, has a penchant for nice clothing, and prefers a quieter, less competitive lifestyle. This new class of young men is taking hold in Japan. They are soushoku dansi—translated to “grass-eating boys” or, more commonly, “herbivores.” The term was coined in 2006 by pop culture columnist Maki Fukasawato to describe men who challenged traditional ideas about Japanese masculinity. “In Japan, sex is translated as ‘relationship in flesh,’ ” she explains. “So I named those boys ‘herbivorous boys’ since they are not interested in flesh.”

But sex isn’t all that herbivores reject. Just as they disdain old-fashioned alpha males, they scoff at the status-conscious consumerism of their parents’ generation. Grass-eating boys aren’t big spenders and they don’t take flashy vacations. They are close to their mothers, prefer platonic relationships with female friends, are attentive to their appearance and have fewer career ambitions. A subsidiary of Dentsu, Japan’s largest advertising agency, estimates that 60 per cent of men in their 20s consider themselves grass-eaters.

That has people buzzing. Reports chart men’s spending on cosmetics and hair products and bemoan the symbolic castration that young men so eagerly embrace. Toilet-maker Matsushita Electric Works announced that more than 40 per cent of men in Japan sit on the toilet while urinating. WishRoom—a Tokyo company—has started selling men’s bras. “What is happening to the nation’s manhood?” asked social critic Takuro Moringa.

Critics charge that herbivores are at the root of Japan’s sluggish birthrate and floundering consumer culture. As well as rejecting the masculine, materialist culture that took off during the ’80s, herbivores are also a long way from the archetypical corporate company men who defined their fathers’ postwar era. Still, Japanese women aren’t ready to let the grass-eaters triumph just yet. Since men are prepared to be passive, new flocks of aggressive “carnivorous girls” have emerged to take charge themselves.


The grass-eating boys of Japan

    • Very interesting. Maybe this is nature's way of getting rid of her biggest threat to her creation.

  1. Interesting. My thought on the cause of the rise of the "herbivores" may be a fundamental rejection of becoming a slave to a corporation and working themselves to death. Where is the sanity in that?

  2. We have those in America. We call them lvl 80 Palidins

  3. Anything to get attention. *sigh*

  4. Is this feminisation of males going to bring world peace?

    • Hmmm – good question Joe.

    • Well, Joe, the macho, kick-ass, materialistic, shallow males we have so many of now running the world certainly hasn't worked – quite the opposite. Perpetual wars for continuous profits is the problem – grass-eating boys could be the solution.

      • How incredibly sexist to say that men are the problem. If the reverse were said, it wouldn't be tolerated in our politically correct society, but it's okay to say hateful things about men. What about all the women who support all those men you just dismissed? Maybe the truth is it's cultural acceptance of violence across genders that leads to war, and not men? I recall Thatcher sending warships pretty quickly down to the Falkland Islands, so so much for 'female kindness'. Next you'll be telling me women are fairer and more delicate! Hah!

  5. I am in Japan right now–there definitely are effeminate looking men walking around…just a phase I guess

  6. Im with the grass eaters, working a dead end job to struggle paying bills isn't exactly spiritually fulfilling.

  7. What a bunch of sissies!

    Oh well, the "no sex" part means they will eventually all die off without reproducing.

    This is just another dead end fad.

    • It is now going on two years Freddy boy and the movement is growing.
      In North America it is called MGTOW. Google it Sparky.

  8. I think this is a reaction to the empty materialism of unregulated, free market capitalism that has nearly destroyed the economies of the world. Spending your life working to enrich a corporation and to have more "things", until too late you realize your whole life has been wasted and those things that really matter – enlightenment, travel, enjoyment of each of life's moments, relationships (not the empty, predatory, sexual types) – have been lost and the world is not a better place because you've been here is a sad ending. And the environment can no longer sustain that material kind of life so let's hope this movement spreads if for no other reason than for our survival and that of other life forms and the planet itself. We've found this kind of life in leaving the US and living in less materialistic Spain and wouldn't go back for anything!

  9. If a guy tells me he's 'not that into sex', i interpret it as 'I can't get any"

    • That's great, Robyn, but what does it have to do with the article? There's a difference in meaning between being 'not that into sex' and 'shunning sex', as the article states. And as far as your interpretation of your own quote 'not that into sex' is concerned, it's very parochial.

    • Nice shaming language. Grow up.

    • Maybe you should ask if he is homosexual? Its people like you that think something is wrong with a man for opting out of the traditional lifestyle that has sent many of us to an early death. Women opted out decades ago, men are just now catching up. I have alot going for me right now and I turn down women all the time, because the few moments of pleasure they can provide are not worth the time, money, and risk involved. I see anything that may lead to having a family as liability based on our cultural attitudes and laws towards men. There is virtually no benefit to attempting to live a traditional lifestyle for men. We don’t even get the appreciation we once did. What we do get is partner who is protected and empowered by the law to do virtually anything she wants. No thanks. I like the idea of not losing my house, going to jail on a false accusation, or being forced to pay child support towards a child I d have no rights to as a slave just because “she isn’t happy.”

  10. partly agree with Jesse 1982, but i´m afraid it´s the opportunity for the militant "macho"-society like some islamic ones are. so the turbulences that may arise from such constellation would destroy the mankind in the apocalyptic wars. maybe, this is what the nature (the evolution?) "wants" to purify the earth from homo sapiens.
    sorry for my English.

  11. Sex is too much trouble, and that's just the beginning. After seeing the lives of previous generations and their own options, it's no wonder that many are choosing a softer lifestyle. They will discover a lot of more valuable things in life. There are enough macho types both men and women to keep industry, countries, and wars going.