“Herbivore Men” and the Declining Japanese Population

In a country notorious for its alarmingly low birthrate, a phenomenon known as the “herbivore man” adds to a list of reproductive concerns rampant in Japan. The herbivore man, known as 草食(系)男子 Sōshoku(-kei) danshi in Japanese, describes a Japanese man who seems uninterested in dating, getting married, or having sex, in many cases, despite the advances of increasingly-desperate women. The herbivore man is apparently very common in modern Japan, indicated by hallmark traits such as dyed floppy hair, skinny jeans, and other physical traits that some Western cultures might label “metrosexual.”

Sourced from npr.org

Despite rather traditional Japanese ideals for masculinity–a competitive attitude towards career, being the traditional head of a household with a stay-at-home wife and children–these herbivore men “are drawn to a quieter, less competitive life, focusing on family and friends–and eschewing the macho ways of the traditional male,” according to The Japan Times.  Other words in describing the classic herbivore man include “kind,” “gentle,” and “unassertive”–not necessarily negative traits by any means (perhaps even desirable traits to most), but the lack of interest establishing families and having children is certainly worrying to a country in the midst of a population crisis and unable to sustain its rapidly-aging population.

Despite the prevalence of the herbivore type over the traditionally-masculine Japanese man, gender equality seemingly still hasn’t improved in Japan. Japan still ranks a low 111th in a global inequality ranking report in late 2016, even lower than the year before.

If you didn’t know, now you do.


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