Herbivorous Japanese Boys- Be A Man Please

July 1, 2011 Juju Kurihara Culture, Japan, Society Tags: 2 Comments

I was reading a blog of a woman who used to live in Spain and now lives in Vienna. She recalls walking down the street in Madrid about 20 years ago. She said she would hear men made sound like “pspsps pspsps” to get the attention of the girls passing. Or even more direct, they would say “hola guapa (hey pretty)!”.

spainAfter 20 years living in Vienna and she was missing this on the street. She recently went to Spain to visit her old friends and what disappointed her was, she did not hear pspsps pspsps anymore.

When I first went to Spain about 15 years ago with 3 other girls, wherever we walked many Spanish men said to us “hola (hello)”. I even thought that was Spanish costum that people greet each other even they were strangers. That wasn´t true but now I see that it was a Latin culture which, men never let women just pass by.

Although according to an Australian friend who travelled to Italy and Spain a few years ago, they were a little like dogs in the mating season sometimes… I agree in a way but also I think that it´s their culture which is described as “piropo (compliment)”.


Now back to Japan, I´ve notice this strange phenomenon about boys. Actually this is not something just started, it´s been happenning but only they didn´t have particular names.

soushoku 1I walk around Shibuya (渋谷 in Tokyo) and see many delicate boys and they are well dressed. “Pretty” I must say. I know an European girl who is obsessed about these fine Japanese boys. When she came to Japan, she try to speak to them but seems like she hasn´t had a big success yet. She thinks they are very cute and shy.


Apparently, they are called “soushoku-kei (草食系)”, means herbivorous in Japanese and these boys are increasing day by day.

imadokidanshiTo begin with, they look like this. They seem to be into fashion but that´s nothing new. They are always into fashion. OK, I can say that they dress pretty.

They are all rather skinny and pale. Especially the boy with a shorts in the photo, I don´t see any hair on his legs and what nice legs he has.


soushokukei 3

Again, boys going to beauty salon to remove body hair and to fix their eyebrows has been quite normal thing in the last at least 10 years. I have to admit that a few years ago, I bought a hair brush for the first time in 4 years… I don´t know how to do the make-up and have no idea how to fix my bushy eyebrows… Honestly, if I stand right next to these boys, I do look like a kid brought up by wolves in a jungle.


Just talking about the fashion, I don´t know if I like to walk on the street with a boy much more well dressed and much prettier. I do have a proud and I prefer people look at me rather than looking at him all the time.


So these well maintained boys have been existing for a while, then what´s new about “shoushoku-kei“? This word was created by a Japanese columnist, Maki Fukasawa (深沢真紀) in 2006 in an internet magazine, Nikkei Business (日経ビジネス).

chartThis is an indicator of soushokukei.

1. Love myself type: Slim body in order to fit in suits nicely. Love emailing via mobile. Overwork is big NO, prefers to be alone at home watching films than going for a drink with his boss.

2. Hairstylist type: Concern with even a thread of hair, have a high sense of mixing brand clothes with no-brand ones. Love buying cosmetics, clothes and presents. Often share clothes with the girlfriend.

3. LOHAS type: Into “slow life”, “health” and “environment”. They are often in general shops like MUJI and café, loves sweets. Eco bag and point cards of the shops are the must item when they do the shopping.


One blogger I read is one of those. He talks about having a breakfast set in a sunny café by the window, reading a book on the river bank in the afternoon when his day off, takes photos of “today´s fashion” through the mirror or tells how relaxing walking in the bamboo grove.

soushoku 2Once I wrote him because I liked his new stripe socks. He happily explained to me where he bought them and how the texture liked.

Japanese men are machismo is quite well-known, I assume. Then these new Japanese are opposite of traditional Japanese men. They are soft, like gentle things and pretty things.


No, not just that.

According to Maki Fukasawa, soushokukei boys are not interested in sex.


For herbivorous boys, girls are not objects for a relationship but they are friends or sisters, so for them it´s normal to stay in a girl friend´s place when he misses the last train. He even gets in her bed but… it won´t happen anything between them. Just like when we were little, you´d sleep with your cousin in the same bed. But insist, they are not gays, simply they are not interested in sex, with any girls.


I don´t get it.

So now Japanese boys are just ornamental? Is there any future for Japanese girls? Or even for Japan?

macho 2It´s very nice that Japanese men are becoming more sensible and thoughtful but it doesn´t mean they can be a plant. I´m not saying that I like these macho men or those who are checking out constantly in the streets.

I saw a girl being interviewed while she was shopping with one of her soushokukei friend. She answers “it´s exactly the same as shopping with my girl friends”.

No, no, no! It shouldn´t be. I can´t even go shopping with friends, especially with girls because they takes so long. I prefer go by myself, go straight to a shop and pick something. Shopping for me is a hunting. If a boy even he is my friend did the same, thinking and thinking then goes around millions of shops, I would burst. For me, the process of “how about this and that” is just a pain.


By the way, the word opposite to soushokukei is nikushokukei (肉食系), carnivorous and for Japanese soushokukei boys, these Japanese nikushokukei girls are fear, just like a deer scares wild cats.

Don´t get me wrong, I like skinny, well dressed and sensible boys, if they are slightly geeky even better. However, I will never expect my guy friends to be my female friends. I like men to be men at certain level whatever the appearance is.

What´s wrong with you, Japanese boys? And Japanese girls, you just let them be like that? Be a man, please.



More Japanese costum

The concept of kindness

Women agenda

How do you say my wife in Japanese

Japanese mums and obento

Japanese girls´ bowlegs

Iyashi-kei girl

Uso mo Houben

Japanese women are too nice?

Keirou no hi


  1. kimiko 5 years Reply

    The idea of a soushokukei boy is actually pleasing to me, I’d love to finally be close to a guy that doesn’t want to just go out with me or “do other stuff”.
    I also like how the far too long tradition of men having to pursue women and women have to just stand there and wait for them is changing, I’d like to see the day where it wouldn’t be weird in Japan for a woman to ask a guy out or even propose.

  2. Midori 6 years Reply

    Hi ~ It was nice to read this.(maybe I’m to late to comment)
    But it is not necessary for boys to be always according to stereotypes of the society. They are free to be themselves no matter if someone doesn’t like it .
    We all should be what we are and what we want to be.
    No one can influence us.
    I personally like those pretty boy a lot. I think they are hot!!!

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