Soshokukei: Men are now “Herbivores”

Soshokukei, herbivores & girly men in Japan

“Many of the boys I’ve met told me they cannot go out of their house if their hair doesn’t look perfect,” she said. “They have also told me that their self-esteem goes up when their nails look nice.” -Quoting Ushikubo Megumi who invented this new term”soshokukei” (草食男子) or “herbivores” to describe the new generation of men, 20-34.

What a happy day to read a Japan Times article that 60% of young men today can be classifed as “herbivores.” Also called “ojo-man” (lady-like men), this term seems to share many characteristics with the term “otomen” introduced by my online moe sensei Bangin.

Bangin does a great job contrasting the two terms in this recent post, and attributing soshokukei to the recently disgraced SMAP member  Kusanagi Tsuyoshi who got drunk and then arrested for public nudity last month.

What makes the Japan Times article so delicious is how they trace this new attitude to the post-bubble gloom generation and highlight extremely unmanly, dare I say “gay” behaviors. The article, of course, goes on to quote a sociologist who claims these girly men are “not gay”:  herbivores are “searching for heterosexual love while turning unisex.” Haha.

So here goes the definitions:

  • They are not as competitively minded about their jobs as men in older generations.
  • They are fashion conscious and eat sparingly so they can stay thin and fit into skintight clothes.
  • They are chummy with their moms and often go shopping together.
  • They are not interested in dating girls, having relationships, or even having sex (choosing from a plethora of “self-help” toys instead).

I love how this new trend is also tied to the internet: Apparently these herbivores do not want to reproduce because they are “too physically tired to have sex, let alone start a family.” Supposedly, they are substituting sex with women with internet porn and “do-it-yourself” gadgets! A supporting quant stat is that condom shipments have been falling since 1999, the start of the internet revolution.

I am surprised that this focus on men’s hair and nails overlooks their incredibly tortured eye-brows. Ah, Japan and your girly men, WE LOVE YOU!


  1. Great post! So are we to believe these herbivores are truly herbivores in every sense of the word? Neither gay nor interested in hetero sex-are they assexual? They sound a little devoid of personality to me…What would Kim Taku be classified as? He certainly doesn’t remind me of that sad-looking herb on the book cover above!

  2. Geez, okay, for the third time, this is basically what I said:

    I’ve never heard of “soshokukei” or heard “herbivore” used for asexual modern guys. Actually, I don’t think they are asexual because they use nonhuman things for sex, right?

    To think that there is a kind of pretty boy I didn’t know. That makes me very happy.

    ❤ Amen to your last sentence.

    –I just read Bangin-sensei's post on soshokukei. It made my day. I love that guy. Long live otomen/karesen (cause as Bangin-sensei says, otomen become karesen).

    Btw, I've read the manga Kashinfu recently, and I have to say that the karesen couple was the best couple in the entire vol. Something about karesen sex that is better than the young, dumb yaoi boys in the series. I could go on an on, but I'm just getting tired of the same 'ole same 'ole. The karesen men were adorable and sweet. I think I've coverted over to the middle-aged side. XD

  3. Thanks for the comments.

    GEG: I would call Kimutaku both sexy and desperate for attention. My husband and sister-in-law hate him. I can’t believe that Kimutaku would prefer the internet to me. Are you a Kimutaku lover or hater?

    Marius Mink: Good catch on the “asexual” yet self-sexual contradiction! Let’s definitely keep each other informed about new trends in Japanese male vanity, my favorite topic. Maybe karasen love is the next wave of boys love 😉

  4. I am such a Kimutaku lover that I might even go see that horrid-looking new movie of his. Unfortunately I think hearing him speak English will be a HUGE turn-off!

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