Embodying Japan: Cultures of Sport, Beauty, and Medicine 2017

Prevalence, Perception, and effect of Herbivore Masculinity


How prevalent is herbivore masculinity in Japan? According to data by “Lifenet, a Japanese life insurance company” 75 percent of “the 1000 single men in their 20s and 30s” identified “themselves as grass-eating men” (Harney). This data shows that a substantial amount of young Japanese males are influenced by herbivore masculinity.  There are mixed opinions about the rise of herbivores. Some view herbivores very negatively, blaming them for the “declining birth rate” in Japan due to their lack of sexual desire (Harney). Furthermore, since herbivore consume less, due to lack of job security or frustration towards the consumer capitalist culture, their activity is linked to Japan’s “economic stagnation” (Harvey).  Also, some view herbivore men in a good way. For instance, “office lechery” by salaryman towards woman used to be “socially acceptable” but now is “stigmatized as seku hara, or sexual harassment” (Harvey). While herbivore men are criticized for their lack of sexual desire, the departure from the overly sexual nature of the salaryman can definitely be seen as a "positive development" (Harvey).

Herbivore masculinity has become appealing to the young Japanese men because it focuses less on the overbearing, capitalistic system and more on the individual.  It is a new direction that focuses personal freedom and expression, rather than the constraining ideas of company loyalty, societal insistence to have children, and the expectation to be the “dominant” masculine figure in the family.  The increase in herbivore men had already led to a change in gender identity in not only males, but also females. For example, there are “carnivorous girls” who are taking the initiative to approach males due to the reluctance of herbivore males to start a relationship (Harney).  It will be interesting to see if herbivore masculinity, or other types of gender identity than that of salaryman become more common in the future.



  1. Harney, Alexandra. "Japan Panics about the Rise of "herbivores"—young Men Who Shun Sex, Don't Spend Money, and like Taking Walks." Slate Magazine. N.p., 15 June 2009. Web. 25 Apr. 2017. <http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2009/06/the_herbivores_dilemma.html>.

This page has paths:

This page has tags:

This page references: