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Makeinu literally translates to “loser dogs”…And who is the loser? The single, childless women in the 30s.

The term Makeinu was first coined by popular columnist Sakai Junko in her book Makeinu no Toboe (The Grumbling of Losers) which became a top selling book. The popularity of the book and the concept of makeinu has perked the public’s interest making the term “makeinu” one of the trendiest words.

In this book, Sakai terms a makeinu as a woman who is 30 years old or over  who is not married and has no children. By contrast, a woman who is married with children is defined as a kachiinu (winner). In days past, women who remained single in their thirties and beyond were stigmatized in the workplace, the community, and among relatives. But nowadays, according to recent data, 43% of men and 27% of women between 30 and 34 years old are unmarried; this is an age in which more than one in four women remain single even after turning 30.

At 37 years old, Sakai is a makeinu herself. In writing the essays, she took the approach that women in a position like hers could live more easily if they shrugged it off and said, “So what if I’m a loser?” But the real question is… are they really losers? Far from being true losers, the makeinu group possess strong purchasing power and have the potential to personal consumption, from gourmet food, vacation, hair stylists to condominiums, they can buy them all, with their own money. Single women in their 30s who have opted to forego the traditional marriage-children route in favor of careers and self-indulgence has won her economic power and independence. These women have taken ownership of the word makeinu as they reinvent what it means to be a young , independent, career woman in Japan.

makeinu no toboe

makeinu no toboe

Saturday night, I was invited to a house warming party of my close friend. At the age of 28, she just bought an apartment in a very trendy hip neighborhood. A fabulous apartment, just for herself.

This is a little rare in Japanese society, for a single woman to buy an apartment in her 20’s. Most women in Japan live with the parents until they get married, and if the woman is independent enough to live on her own, then she would rent a place, waiting for the day the prince would show up and welcome her into his castle….

The fact is, that most Japanese men would freak out and get intimidated by the idea of woman with her own flat in a trendy neighborhood. So I asked her few questions about this…

Q1) Why did you decide to buy and apartment?
I wasn’t really thinking about it in the first place, but I got sick of the idea of paying rent everymonth just to rent a place. I thought I could use the money in a better way.

Q2) How did you decide to buy this apartment?
I came to look at it, and it’s designed by a female disigner for a female owner, and everything is really perfect. The location is great, the interior is “female-friendly” with a big kitchen, big bathroom, big mirror, and a large storage place… I really fell in love with it and decided to buy it the next day.

Q3) What did your parents think?
My parents were surprised, proud, and happy but they were upset, they felt I was giving up on marriage. There’s a feeling that if you buy your own place you’ll never find a husband because you’re too independent, but I love my apartment. It’s a symbol of who I am and I’m proud that I own it. I guess I’m getting ready to lead my own life, in my own flat, so I don’t have to get worried about living alone.

It’s not that I dont’t want to get married, I do want children in the future, but I don’t seem to find any potential partner, and I don’t want to feel the pressure, or worry about my single life, so I thought I would first get comfortable with my single life, with my own apartment, then look for a man of my dreams with no worries and no stress.

Q4) How do you think the Japanese men would react to your purchase?
I have told my male friends about my apartment and the responses really vary. Most Japanese men, especially the ones with big ego about their salary and career, they do get freaked out. They get freaked out even when I was renting an apartment in this neighborhood, but now that I purchased it, I guess this intimidates more men. And some of them certainly think that I’ve given up on marriage because I now have my own castle.

But there are some men who are happy for me, show respect to me for my choice and my purchase. I’m not going to hide the fact that I have my own flat here. I wouldn’t want to date guys who get intimidated by such a small fact, in the first place. I’m actually going to use this to filter out silly men and to really spend time with the guys who have confidence and open-minded.


I started to feel so happy hearing her speaking about her purchase and her outlook on life. I really liked her positiveness, how carefully she made this decision, and how she is NOT waiting for a prince to appear to take her home. I’ve finally met an independent Japanese woman of my dream who is proud of who she is, who knows what she’s worths, and who isn’t going to compromise!

The house warming party was also fabulous. She stood in the kitchen counter, preparing dishes and dishes of delicious party food. Everyone brought clear drinks (white wine, Japanese sake, vodka) to avoid the risk of staining her perfectly white furnitures. We were all happy for her, and the house really got warmed in a way it should be.

Increasing female buyers for flats in Tokyo

I went home to research on the Japanese female buyers for the flats in Tokyo. Japan’s single women were once best known for their love of shoes and handbags. Though that is still the case, increasing number of single women are snapping up special female-friendly flats as well.

Female internal designers make sure that the apartment appeal directly to the singl, working woman with the “female friendliness” of the apartment. As my friend pointed out, female friendliness of an apartment may include anything from large shoe cupboard, clean big bathroom, specious kitchen,… but there are some more surprising features…

At the touch of a button, for example, the bathroom becomes a sauna. The bathroom-saunas can also be used to dry laundry, which is a strong selling point for many Japanese women who dislike hanging underwear where it can be seen.

A link between the flat and the owner’s mobile phone will allow her to turn on the air conditioning or run a hot bath remotely, so that everything is ready for her when she gets in after a hard day at work.

In some properties the door entry system will transmit an image to the owner’s phone of anybody who called at the flat while she was out. She can also check the door is locked with her mobile and a message will be sent if an alarm is triggered.

Impressive! But what about the price of such a fancy flat? Property prices used to be far beyond the reach of the average working Japanese woman and many banks would not grant a woman a mortgage. However, women have made huge strides towards equality at work and property prices have fallen dramatically during a decade of recession.

The result is 60 per cent more single women own property than bachelors in modern Tokyo. More and more women never marry at all and single women seeking flats are one of the few bright spots in a depressed housing market.

This Tokyo’s female-friendly property boom also reflects the fact that many Japanese women today have more in common with the heroines of the New York television series Sex and the City than with their mothers.

spacious kitchen and dining

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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!

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