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Archive for January 2010

I’m proud to be the first on the internet to introduce the  emerging trend of new type of guys, the girly guys. Otomen (オトメン/乙男) is a pun made of the Japanese word otome (乙女), meaning “young lady” or “mistress”, and the English word “men”. Like the Soshokukei Danshi (Grass-eating boys), the description of Otomen is really very close to what you would imagine to be gay. Otomen is type of guys who like cute sweet things traditionally thought to be girls’ taste. Pastel colors, flowers, sweets, chocolates and cakes, teddy bears and bunny rabbits, to cooking, sewing, and all the lovely things. However, they are straight in their sexual preference. Otomen is a straight man with feminine taste and sensitive mind.

Originally, the word Otomen was first popularized by a comic book Otomen. It became such a hit that they even made a TV show on the life of Otomen, Asuka Masamune. Here goes the story: Asuka is a badass. He is a tough, cool, 2nd year high school guy who is also a master at kendo. He exudes an aura of manliness that is difficult to deny. .. at least that’s what everyone thinks.  But for Asuka, life is torture, because he can never show the REAL Asuka to the world. While he is phenomenal at kendo, and looks very cool, Asuka’s manly lifestyle is a lie to hide his real self. He actually prefers much more girly things: knitting, cooking, sewing, staffed animals, shoujo manga (girls romance comic), plushies, cute things – he loves them all. When he was a child, this worried his mother very much, as Asuka’s father abandoned the family after declaring he wanted to be a woman. The shock made his mother so ill that Asuka swore to become a more manly man… or at least act like one. So he falls in love, with his classmate, a manly girl who is tough and strong. The rest is a romantic comedy of the couple struggling to get along with gender roles and expectation and with the approval of their classmates and family. (see more on Otomen official page)

However, the trend of otomen did not stop with comic books and TV drama. Well, it actually started from the real phenomenon of guys who are becoming more and more girly in their tastes, hobbies, and action. And since the word Otomen became popularized by the media, it seems the trend of girly men are spreading out the media into the society.

As women are becoming stronger and tougher, men are going the other way around, becoming weaker and softer. With the emergency of strong women to lead the men, men no longer need to lead the society. They can relax and enjoy their life, decorating their apartment, indulging tasty sweets and herbal tea, reading books and day dreaming. The emergence of Otomen is actually welcomed by most women, according to a study conducted by Ozmall. 75% of respondents approved Otomen and would consider Otomen as their potential life partner, mostly because of their expectation for Otomen to support them with their femine side – to take on the traditional female role of cooking, cleaning, and laundry. And they expect to enjoy spend time together with men who can share feminine taste.

What about you? How do you like see your boyfriend wearing a pink sweet PJ cuddling a fluffy teddy bear?

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OZmall, a Web-based magazine for women in the 20’s conducted a survey on Tokyo’s working women on the level of their manliness in love life. “Have you felt your manliness you’re your love life? If so, when and how?” 42% of the respondents answered “Yes” and provided some insights in their growing masculinity in love life.

When do you feel that you are becoming masculinized?

  • “I no longer play hard to get”
  • “I don’t sleep in his arms, he sleeps in my arms
  • “I can’t be bothered to send sms to guys”
  • “I no longer feel shame”
  • “I prioritize work to celebrating our anniversary or birthdays”
  • “He says he’s lonely because I’m too busy
  • “When we got in a fight, I confronted him and he started crying
  • “My bf wanted to have a Romantic Christmas together, so I planned the whole day – the restaurant, romantic bar, present, and romantic suite in hotel. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?”
  • “I ask the guy for number and plan for next date.”
  • “I ask the guys to come home with me
  • “I get frustrated when he can’t decide what to do on our date so I plan for our date. When we go for drive, I print out the map and driving route. I would even chain the tires”
  • “We started dating because I jumped on him
  • “When I spot a cute guy in town, I go up and talk to him”

What are the strategy to approach… or hunt the guys you like?

  • “I invite him out to something that he’s interested in, be it a movie, auto-show, or museum, and when we are alone, I tell him my worries so he gets the idea that he’s someone special for me”
  • “I know I look pretty and outgoing. So I show him my other side – that I can cook” “it depends, but the final blow is definitely… my body”
  • “I make him think that I can’t do anything without him… but I can
  • “My sms are very sweet and cute, contrary to my cool personality”
  • “Pretend to be naïve and virgin. ‘never had a bf!’ I tell the guys to excite them”

Research summary

40% of respondents reported they feel their manliness in their behavior in love life. Manly women actively approach the men of their interest and make him theirs. The research shows 2 types of manly-woman: 1) she has decision making power in the relationship and plans out what to do on dates and hold him in her arms 2) successful career and busy worklife, she concentrates on her life than love life, leaving him lonely. Either way, they are leading their life and relationship with their manliness but on the other hand, what this trend really shows is how men in Tokyo is becoming weaker. The most common strategy to “hunt him” was 1) find out his interest and ask him out on a date, and 2) sleep with him and make him your bf. At times their aggressiveness may scare the men, but may worths it to masculinize yourself a bit to do well in Konkatsu – Ozmall

Masculinization as an insult

I guess ‘masculinize’ is the word the media likes, but can these women be really described with ‘masculinity’? I wonder, if “masculinization of women” is just a necessary move towards gender equality in Japanese society, for women to have more decision making power, in her life, career, and love. Even though Tokyo is quite modern city, this is a society where the traditions and conservative values still exist. Although women are increasingly becoming independent and successful, there is still social pressure on women to be feminine, ultimately get married and have children. At the moment, we haven’t reached real gender equality, real sense of liberation from traditional gender roles yet. But women are in fact, becoming more and more independent, financially stronger, and successful in career. Hence the criticism of  such power women as “masculinized.” ‘Masculinization’ .,.. such an insult! No women in the world wants to be described ‘masculine’ I think this term is not just a joke, it’s actually a criticism of increasing power and independence of women by the Japanese society, mainly lead by weak timid men.

The New buzz word: masuclinized women and girly men

It’s been a bout a year since I first wrote News alart! Increasing population of ‘grass-eating boys’!? Since then, the concept of ‘Soshokukei Danshi’ (grass-eating boys) and Nikushokukei Joshi (meet-eating girls) have spread around Japanese society, in the media, on graphic t-shirts, and all over magazines and daily conversations, the trend for identifying whether one is herbivory or carnivorous has died down.

Now, the new concept for 2010 is Osu-ka: masculinization of women and Joshi-ka: feminization of men.  As the populationg of ‘grass-eating boys’ increases, and as women need to become carnivorous and aggressive, women are increasingly becoming masculinized, explains the media. On the other hand, the ever-so peaceful and timid grass-eating boys enjoy staying at home and decorating their apartment and practice cooking and banking, they are increasingly becoming girly. This gender switch is not only seen in personal life style, but also in the work life and career plans.

As women are increasingly entering the workforce, and gain success in the field of banking, law, consulting, and medicine climbing, the ladder of success, rather than getting married and having kids, women leading life style of traditional single bachelor – or “salary man.” With so much work and responsibility at the office, women these days do not cook at home, they would spend their nights in a pub drinking beer with their female friends or eating delivery pizza, drinking a canned beer in front of TV…. Women are becoming masculinized! (and I’m the first person to report this in English!)

Ramen-noodle, alcohol and house wife

According to an article on “masculinization of Tokyo women” published by Jcast News in December 2009,  60% of working women in the 20’s – 30’s feel they have become masculinized. “I drink alcohol at home alone, don’t mind going for quick dinner at ramen noodle shop alone,  my priority is work before going on dates!” To my horror, 1 in 10 of these women have discovered their facial hair has darkened/increased since the entrance in the workforce.  Hormone imbalance caused by stress is, in deed, masculinizaing working women’s body.

When do you feel ‘masculinized’? – When I sneeze like a middle aged man, When I say ‘That’s why I don’t wanna work with women,’ When I think ‘I want a wife to take care of me,’ I don’t consider myself office lady, I’m a businessman… they say. It also seems ramen and alcohol, for these women are just as basic necessity as they are for Japanese bachelors. Masculinized women have less interest in men and more for ‘wife’: 27% of respondents prioritize work to dating and 1 in 3 respondents identified their wish to have a housewife to take care of her.

How far are we masculinized?

But the masculinization is not just for a laughing a matter. The hormone imbalance caused by stress is actually causing physical masuclinization for some women. It appears 10% of working women aged 25 – 35 are suffering from increased facial hair, especially beard. Even more widely experienced is menstrual disorder and irregular periods. Working women are having more and more physical problems such as backaches and mesntrual disorder, sleeping problems and eating disorder. How to feminize your body to avoid these problems?

A doctor from womens’ clinic says “Get involved in feminine activities. Take flower arrangement classes, bake some cake, dress yourself up, go on dates, cook at home, and feel feminine to stimulate female hormone.” However, despite such severe effects of masculinization, it seems the word “osu-ka” and “joshi-ka” are going to be hot-words of the year.

When I was studying sociology of pop culture, I learned that we listen to the music we most identify ourselves with at the time. Therefore, hit Love songs represents how people think about love and romance.

For me, at the moment, the songs I have been listening the most these days are… According to you – Orianthi, Battle field Jody Sparks, Bad Romance – Lady Gaga… hmm it seems that the Sociologists are right. I think these songs do tell you about how I’m feeling about love and romance these days.

So what kind of love songs are on the Japanese hit charts lately? To be honest, I don’t listen to Japanese pop music at all. I really don’t find Japanese music industry interesting, and I think Japanese people are good at many things but not just good at singing. I’m most turned off by the popularity of huge boy bands and girl bands, but much bigger in size than backstreet boys or NSYNC, there are 10+ boys and girls singing in unison together. They sounds like a horrible school chorus! Well, I guess it’s like any other country, there is the mainstream crap, and there’s the underground awesomeness… but I’ve got no time to discover them because I’m very busy with my favorite bands and DJs from the US, UK, France, and Germany.

Exile: 14 men sing together in unison, so cool!

#2 Hit: Can we go back – Kumi Koda

The song is about a girl wishing to get back with her ex. “Can we go back to the way we used to be? The butterfly has returned now. Can’t we just throw it all out , it’s easy to give up but it shouldn’t stay like this. So back to the way we used to be,” she says things she doesn’t wanna give up on them yet, and make some changes to get back. “Oh can we go back, getting used to losing. I used to be fearless when I was a child, but nothing comes out of losing battle. Baby can we try,” I guess she growing up and has more fears but she really thinks they had something important to give it another try. Hm, nothing surprising here, it’s pretty much like any other after-break-up-wooing-back song. By the way, Kumi Koda would be like… equivalent to Christina Aguilera, as you can see in the below pic (reminds of Christina in Dirty or Fighter), known for her sexy attitude.

#3 Hit song: Always by Miki Nakajima

This is more like  what I know as the typical melancholy over-dramatic Japanese love song. Compared to Kumi Koda’s Can we go back, Always is a melancholy breakup song of a girl being overly nostalgic about her love for her ex. But unlike Can we go back, this girl doesn’t have the guts to ask her ex to be back,she’s just sulking in her room being nostalgic.

“I felt like I could see tomorrow just from your smile. I would probably run to you, even if that means hurting someone. I still miss the warmth of your hand, in the crowded street, we held eachother in silence. Love changes like season, I know that but I thought with you it would different. Good bye – would you forget me, or the nights we dreamed of eternity. Can we still smile together – on the day when we lose eachother. Even if our days were just mistake, it’s ok”

Hm, I don’t know what I think about this love song. I have listened to many more break up songs that has more attitude and stronger message about where we should go from there on. This “Always” song isn’t my style

yep, she's definitely sulking in her bed

#9 Hit: Last Kiss – Choshinsei

Another breakup song, but this one is by a guy… oh, excuse me, it was a band of 6 boys.

“The last kiss was so sudden, I can’t forget you. One more time! I want you back. Just take me back  to the days we were together,  somebody just take me back back back I wanna be back there and kiss kiss once again I miss you. “Can we meet up tonight” I was excited with your sms with no idea until I saw you. Why do you look at me with sad look. You don’t say a word, you are not as usual. With tears in your eyes, you gave me back the pair ring (a pair of rings couples wear casually as sign of being together) you said “I’m sorry and gave me a last kiss.

The last kiss was so sudden, I can’t forget it. One more time! I want you back. Kiss of tears, tasted so sad I can’t forget.  It’s still on my lips. Why, tell me why such sudden Goodbye. No phone call from you since then, it’s so hard to understand. I’m alone lost my precious girl. Can’t forget your love even after some time. It hurts me to thing of you, I realized after breakup, you were lonely, I did not understand, I’m sorry but I want you back one more time”

Excuse me, which one of you was I dating? I forgot!

Lost of break-up and wanna get back with you song on the hit list this month! Time to get back with your ex if you don’t wanna be lonely for Valentine’s day

Do you remember that I once went to match making party?

Actually my relationship with “my perfect match” didn’t end that night so let me write about this. We never met again, but he tried and tried and tried to pursue me and pretty much did everything in his power (using cellphone) to convince me to marry him, or at least have a drink with him.

I must admit it was flattering at first, to be told how surprised he was to have met his perfect match in a match making party(what a coincidence, he kept saying) and that he had never expected such fortune. I would have even gone for a full dinner + drink date with him at that point, if it wasn’t for the wrap up of my busy analysis project. I really would have, he was nice, decent guy at least from what I remember that night, and his sms wooing were harmless, if not flattering.

After 3 weeks of meetings, report makings and excel databases, his emails turned into something more than what it originally was. It seemed as if his passion for the idea of getting married (note: not the passion for me) has gotten out of control in my absense, and his sms started get more and more in tense, in terms of volume and content. He was so getting anxious to get married, he couldn’t wait till he seems me again.

“What kind of a family do you like to have?” “What kind of a man do you like to marry? I will try to be that man, I will get stronger for you” … isn’t it getting bit intense to hear these from a guy you just met once? But I realized this has to end when he googled me and found me on the company website and my university website and commented on sms “You work so hard, I saw your success in the company and in the university,  you must be so smart with great genes”

After a month or 2, it was all about the sms chase. I became the Queen of avoidance, and ignored his passionate sms (about the idea of marriage, not me) and slowly he became quieter with sms. And it was his very last sms that really impressed me, after all the sms that had tired me, freaked me, and pushed me away from him.

In his very last sms, he asked that we meet again, so I could give him a feed back on what he did well, what he did wrong, and how he could do better next time he goes to the match making party. Well, he doesn’t learn the lesson that may be this whole match making thing isn’t for someone like him, but he is surely ready to learn te lesson from his failure and grow to be the konkatsu-professional.

What did I learn from this experience? … To be desired for sex, is one thing. It happens, right? Lust at first sight. He doesn’t know you, but he knows he wants you. He wants to kiss you and take you in his arms, even though he doesn’t know you. I welcome that, eventhough I find it annoying if the guy is not my type. But to be desired for marriage, without the guy knowing me… this is freaky. This is completely different story. And although this match making party, my konkatsu activity was a success for having him desire me for marriage so much (hell yeah, I could have been married by the time I’m writing this now) I really learned the sadness of idea of marriage without love… and lust.

Is it your apperarance? personality? what’s the problem? The 5 reasons you are not “chosen” — in January issue of Anan. ANAN is beauty and fashion magazine for twenty-something year old women. Its kinda like a … well, can’t really think of a equivalent but it’s kind of like a Japanese version of Cosmo or Glamour (though not much about sex)

I found this article while I was preparing up for the TV interview that I mentioned, and was totally shocked to find that I totally fit in the 5 reasons AnAn lists out in the magazine. I’m going to translate the article so you can check if you have any attribute that are unfit to be “chosen” for a partner in Tokyo Meet Market.

How unlikely it is for you to be “chosen”!?

  • I usually wear dark colored clothes – black, gray and other dark colors
  • I do not have male siblings
  • I sometimes reply to SMS more than a day after receiving it
  • Perfect nails and perfect hairstyle is a necessity for hanging out with any guys
  • I have more than 3 hobbies that I’m serious about
  • My hobby includes one of the followings: golf, traveling, wine tasting
  • I have no time for myself and spend most of the time at home and at work
  • I do not hesitate talking about my past relationship to other men
  • I cannot help being nosy about other people’s business
  • I would like to travel abroad at least once a year after I Get married
  • I know what kind of man I want to marry (in terms of occupation)
  • I cannot make the first move even if I like somone

How many of the above statements applied to you?

0 – 3: 30% risk to be not chosen
No need to worry so much at the moment. But to avoid the risk of never being chosen by men, you should be aware of the risks and prevent the risk ASAP

4-7: 50% risk to be not chosen
There’s still a chance to improve your chance. But if you don’t change yourself and age more, you would nbe helpless.  Let’s look at your current life style and improve your chance to be chosen

more than 8: 80% risk to be not chosen
You are at a serious risk of not being chosen by men. You must not be stubborn to your current lifestyle and redeem yourself. The first tep can still be taken?

How many of the above criteria applied to you? Apparently, I have 50% risk… because I wear dark colors, don’t have male siblings, don’t reply to SMS immediately, traveling is my hobby, want to continue traveling after marriage, don’t always make the first move…. because I’m a normal human being with my own taste??

But apparently, that’s the thing about being an “attractive Japanese woman” for Japanese men. You don’t necessary have to have beauty, intelligence, humor, hot body, or good taste. You just be easy going, great listener, nice, and willing to take care of him and the household. I cannot believe it, I cannot believe this woman’s magazine is actually promoting the idea of such boring low standard without telling us to be confident, be who we are, enjoy life. What’s wrong with wearing sophisticated black or grey? what’s wrong with seeing the world, traveling around, eating great food, enjoying life? Is this magazine really going to tell us how to be a boring women JUST so that we get “chosen” by some boring men to be a boring housewife?

This issue of AnAn is VERY intersting, it’s all about building konkatsu strategy for 2010. I will translate few more articles from the magazine in the next few days.

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A while ago, I slept with a Soshokukei Danshi (“grass-eating boy” or “Herbivore Man”)

To be more clear, I slept in the same bed with him, with my head pillow on his arm.  And nothing more. One of the definitions of the “grass-eating boy” is that they are not aggressive for sex, and they would sleep next to a woman rather than try to sleep with a woman. It’s true, I have experienced sleeping with a “grass-eating boy” and he was as nice and quiet as a little lamb. And it was, well, strange, but nice. For the first time in my life, I slept with a man who didn’t try to jump on me and make me his.

It was after a wild night out we had started the night with bunch of our friends in a izakaya (Japanese drinking establishment which also serves food to accompany the drinks, like a tapas bar). Drinks were flying around, lots of chatting and laughter, we started from one bar and hopped around different bars. After long hours of bar hopping, some of us ended up in my apartment and continued to drink. Some people started falling asleep, some of them went home, and when I realized, it was just me and one guy falling asleep on the floor. I had known him for over several months, good friends, drink together occasionally, with some flirtation that never lead anywhere special. So I left him where he was, on the floor, and headed for my bed to get some sleep.

It was some time later I was awaken by the guy coming into my bed. I kept my eyes closed and he slipped under the blanket and I could feel he was looking at me. I didn’t especially have a feeling for him, and I wanted to see where this was all going, so I kept still to see what happens next. Then touched my hair softly, and he put his head on the pillow. We were lying next to eachother in the same bed, with our feet touching.

I still kept my eyes closed, pretending to be sleeping.

tik tak tik tak… nothing happens.

I opened my eyes and our eyes met. This is the moment, things usually, if it hadn’t happened yet, happens. The magic moment when two people are very close, feeling happy with the alcohol and the warmth of the bed, and our eyes meet… passionately.

tik tak tik tak… nothing happens.

He smiles at me and touches my hair. Then slips his arm under my neck, and we fall asleep. Next morning, he left for the first train home after a nice quiet goodbye and thank you. So this is my first experience of sleeping with the grass eating boy. It’s kind of cute now that I think about it. But I’m still surprised there are these kind of guys now a days.

Grass-eating boys… we can safely and comfortably sleep next to them without being attacked! Takes some fun away, but it was quite a nice experience!


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What is Tokyo Meet Market?

From the Western perspective, what goes on in the Japanese dating scene is really different and interesting! In this shy nation of Japan, meeting new people is almost institutionalized, dating and romance is littered with conventions that protect people from social awkwardness. What are dating conventions and rules in Japan? How do the shy Japanese people meet new people, develop affection, and express their passion? As I research and answer these question, I will write a real time report of what's going on in the Tokyo dating scene, or the "Tokyo Meet Market" here in this blog. I hope you enjoy my blog and a trip around Tokyo Meet Market with me!

Cherie’s tweets

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  • getting warmer in Tokyo! The spring is just around the corner which means... love in the air! 7 years ago