Quantcast

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

60

Asexual Japan

This survey of relationship trends in Japan is fascinating and bizarre. Some of the more confounding numbers:

- One in four Japanese people in their late 30s has never had sex.

- 61% of unmarried Japanese men and 50% of unmarried women don't have girlfriends/boyfriends.

- And 90% of unmarried young Japanese women prefer to stay single, although 89% of them say they want to get married someday (?).

This in addition to Japanese teens feeling ambivalent about sex, and the looming "demographic crisis." Their toilets and candy, however, remain second to none. [Via]

60 Comments / Post A Comment

Porn Peddler

I lived with/was best buddies with several Japanese international students in college and yeah this sounds about right. They told many many interesting anecdotes about peoples' views of sex and relationships, and I witnessed many more. Still kind of confounds me to this day, much of it...

sp8ce

@Third Wave Housewife Like??

candybeans

Ok. a) Japan, why you not doin' it?
but, seriously, b) When did your eyes pop out of *your* head while watching that Kracie video? 2:17 for me. It has over 4 million views, so I'm clearly late to this party, but, seriously? Jello salmon roe???

Maria

@candybeans By about 0:54. This is beyond candy.

bitzy

@candybeans 1:27. I must find this. Or go to Japan. Probably both.

feartie

@candybeans Something about the squidgy noises on that video made me feel a bit uneasy. I like to delude myself that all sweets are harvested out of the garden in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the Gene Wilder version naturally)

pterodactgirl

@feartie Ugh. The squidgy noises totally squicked me out. I mean, that was awesome and all, but young Pterodactgirl would not have gone near that candy. A) too much work. B) Gross squidgy noises.

tortietabbie

DEMOGRAPHIC DISASTER!!!!!

Cawendaw

I feel like I should be seeing a downside to this, but all I'm seeing is "immigration regulations may loosen due to population crisis" and "your dogged denial of the possibility that your adorable 4th grade students ever will develop anything like a sex life may actually based in fact."

Emby

Well, they do have an awful lot of WiFi over there.

itmakesmewonder

@Emby All the thumbs. Way, way up.

eoporto

I'm curious how anime porn factors in - cause or effect?

auberginedream

@eoporto I was thinking the same thing. Maybe being inundated with weird porn your entire life takes all the excitement and eroticism out of sex?

itmakesmewonder

@auberginedream You two realize you can go through your life and not be inundated with weird porn, right?

Cawendaw

@auberginedream A lot of my high school students seemed to still be in the "yuck, the opposite sex has cooties and I will not make eye contact" stage of social development as late as second grade HS (junior year), so my guess would be effect.

I AM DIAPHENA

@auberginedream Okay, you're not necessarily INUNDATED WITH WEIRD PORN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE if you grow up in Japan. It took me until I got Internet access and had people from other countries asking me about/showing me "weird Japanese porn" until I saw a single sexy tentacle. You can definitely grow up in Japan without seeing weird porn until your adult life.

My hypothesis that the weird porn is an effect of the cultural repression of sex and sexy things. There's such an overall emphasis on doing well in your studies that I think to many parents, dating/doin' it seems like a distraction that they don't want their kids to get into. So pretty much everything those kids learn about sex comes from their friends, whose parents also may not talk to them about it, so it's either not discussed at all or it's hilariously distorted.

hahahaha, ja.

@I AM DIAPHENA: The same sort of cultural repression happens in China, except apparently my people suck at honoring their parents and decided at some point to have babies all over the place. I've been told it's because, back in the day, we wanted to emulate Big Brother Russia with its big beefy population.

Danzig!

@eoporto What I've read seems to indicate that anime porn seems so outlandish and extreme to Western audiences because official reasoning in Japan goes that if you give that outlet to deviant sorts of sexuality, they won't be expressed IRL. Hence all the incredibly transgressive stuff that's out there.

At the same time you've got Japanese business and media that are strictly gender segregated by design and often tailored to very specific niches. You look at some of that stuff and think "how could this possibly make money?" and the answer is that it's got a very small audience that is charged significantly for their specialized content. Hence, weird porn. Like lots of entertainment businesses around the world, piracy has severely threatened the market.

There's no science there, really, but that's just what I've read.

applestoapples

This is interesting, given how many Westerners view Japan as a leader in Rule 34 of the Internet.
I guess the estimation that Japan will have had the second-lowest birthrate in the world by the end of 2011 is directly related?

gobblegirl

One in four have never had sex? Oh my, there must be so much bad kissing happening in Japan.

Megasus

@gobblegirl If you have ever seen their air sex competitions, yes.

emilylou

@gobblegirl WHY WOULD YOU REMIND ME OF THAT

lisma

@Megan Patterson@facebook oh my god, what is air sex????

D.@twitter

@ginalouise I imagine it's having sex while skydiving. I really hope that's what it is.

Megasus

@ginalouise It's like air guitar, but for sex.

lisma

@Megan Patterson@facebook
oh nooooooo.

Pound of Salt

Well would you want to get married if you had a toilet goddess?

pterodactgirl

@Pound of Salt Who could ever compare?

HoliandIvy

@pterodactgirl
When I was in Japan with the boy, I called the toilet his 'robot Japanese girlfriend'.

wharrgarbl

I don't understand how this happens. No babies, sure. Sex ed, birth control, local diet suppressing fertility, etc. But no fucking? Does not compute.

werewolfbarmitzvah

@wharrgarbl Well, you've got a situation where kids are focused VERY heavily on school and studying throughout their youth (therefore, limited free time and some hampering of social skills). Then, in adulthood, there's an also-heavy focus on work, with long hours for those lucky enough to find employment (therefore, the lack of free time continues for the employed, and heavy depression/no-leaving-the-house for the unemployed). THEN there's the high likelihood of people to live under close quarters with a whole bunch of relatives (no space, no privacy for sex). So, in summary: limited spare time, limited opportunity for socializing, limited opportunity for being alone in a room with the door closed. Result=not much opportunity for sex!

wharrgarbl

@werewolfbarmitzvah I think this is usually when a culture invents designated fuck-closets and starts turning a super-blind eye to hooking up with randos, though. It's like Victorian England, where all the bullshit precipitated into a shitload of prostitution rather than a shitload of celibacy.

Megasus

@wharrgarbl Well, in Victorian England, they just boned outside in public and did not give a crap.

wharrgarbl

@Megan Patterson@facebook Now, now. If London's allies were God's blind spot, surely they were everyone else's blind spot too?

kinbarichan

@werewolfbarmitzvah, Yeah, but then you have SO MANY love hotels, and they're EVERYWHERE - there are love hotels in the rice fields for those who fancy a nice drive before sex, there are love hotels near every train station, there are Christmas-themed love hotels, Tuscan-themed love hotels, all these places begging you to pop in for an hour or two and enjoy, to the best of your capabilities, the facilities. So, lack of space/privacy really isn't an issue, unless you also have lack of money. Because really, any country that has the 'Hotel Zoo' and the 'Hotel Exceed' (And the Hotel Chapel Christmas and Hotel Bears Bears and Galaxy Hotel and SO many more) should have an astonishing amount of sexual activity going on.

werewolfbarmitzvah

@kinbarichan Yeah, I was about to reply about the love hotels being the equivalent of the "designated fuck-closets" that wharrgarbl mentions. Howeeeeeever, in order to make proper use of a love hotel, you have to actually meet someone and bring them there! And this is where we come to the fact that culturally speaking, East Asia is a very different animal from the western hemisphere. In the West we've got a very casual pick-up culture, where men and women can just go to bars, drink their faces off, meet whoever, and lurch off into the horizon with the random person they've met. In East Asian countries it's just not quite that simple, and you can't quite approach attractive strangers as abruptly as you can in the US, and not everyone is as comfortable talking to the opposite sex as they are in the US (and as for same-sex encounters, that stuff is still extremely taboo over there), and even if you do manage to find someone to bring to a love hotel, then you've still gotta go home afterwards and find your mom sitting there wide awake, saying, "WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL NIGHT AND WHY DOES YOUR BREATH STINK OF LIQUOR AND WHY ARE YOU BRINGING SUCH SHAME ON OUR FAMILY AND WHY OH WHY DID I HAVE TO BE CURSED WITH SUCH A DISRESPECTFUL SON/DAUGHTER!" (Full disclosure: I'm married to a guy from Korea, which, while not exactly culturally the same as Japan, features quite a few similarities when it comes to sexuality, education/work ethic, familial responsibility, etc.)

Cawendaw

@werewolfbarmitzvah I've only lived here for 4.75 years so I have very limited qualifications for evaluating this, but for what it's worth this lines up very well with what I've seen/heard/had explained to me.

kinbarichan

@werewolfbarmitzvah: Japan's culture is basically, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, so nobody's waiting to berate you when you come home from your two hours/overnighter at the love hotel. (I lived in Japan for seven years, and got to know a few of those hotels) Although Japan and Korea have many cultural similarities, their approaches to sexuality seem to be different - maybe because Korea has such a huge Christian contingent and Japan still has giant-phallus festivals? Shinto is such a sexy religion; it's a shame that the younger generation is forsaking the old fertility gods for the confines of the internet.

Hamsterdam

@kinbarichan Do explain about Shinto? I know nothing!

kinbarichan

@Hamsterdam: If you've ever watched Spirited Away, you already know a lot about Shinto. Basically, the idea is that there are many gods, and they can be anywhere or anything - trees, rocks, rivers. About a couple of hours away from our town, there was a large shrine with a ... two-meter long cedar phallus that... represented a god? Was a god? Anyhow, it got paraded around town once a year and was seen as a symbol of both virility and fertility - touching it would insure that you would have an easy time conceiving. A few kilometres from there, there was a lady-parts shrine with a large straw-doughnut symbol, and their own yearly festival/parade. Both festivals brought many visitors into the two towns, and the parades had become a tourist-oriented event, but the origin of the ceremonies were genuinely ancient.

rora

@kinbarichan

Don't forget the Jurassic Park themed love hotel! Chapel Coconuts is the best one, though.

I had a really interesting conversation with a recently divorced dude who was open about the details of his marriage and divorce. He and his wife went SEVEN years without having sex. He said she felt more like a mom to him. He cheated on her twice before they decided to divorce. I think it's an all too common thing...

likethestore

And 90% of unmarried young Japanese women prefer to stay single, although 89% of them say they want to get married someday (?)

I get it. Sure, you WANT to get married someday, but all that effort dating requires (leg shaving, makeup wearing, holding in farts) doesn't always seem quite worth it.

kinbarichan

@likethestore: I think the idea is to hold off on marriage as long as possible, and then sneak in the childbearing and servitude (being a wife/mother in Japan is hard work) after as many years as possible of freedom and being served by one's own hardworking mother. I have one friend who just got married for the first time, at 45. She does not look happy in her wedding photos,either. I think that she held out as long as she could, before crumbling to what was expected of her.

katesanserino@twitter

Anyone hear about the virtual girlfriends in Japan? There was an article in WSJ about a year ago, and I think other places too. Basically a game with real Japanese men and Anime girlfriends. The men get points for being "good boyfriends," and they take these computers around everywhere with them. Pretty sci-fi. Seems sort of related to this, and the "herbivore men" described in the CNN article linked to in this post. Maybe we're just all becoming so disembodied now. Although, this is really doing nothing to explain lack of female interest in sex. Maybe same mechanism? Here's a link to the WSJ article from August 2010: http://tinyurl.com/24ht73o

Nina B.@twitter

I think a lot of commenters are freaking about the "not having sex" part. Maybe it's something some Japanese just don't want? There's nothing wrong about that.

katesanserino@twitter

@Nina B.@twitter I definitely agree with you and think that it's fine and normal for some people to not want sex. What seems abnormal is for such a large percentage of the population to not want sex. That seems like a statistical trend worth further examination. That's my perspective, at least.

wharrgarbl

@Nina B.@twitter It's pretty normal for some people to just not want sex, or want sex very rarely, or only want sex under very specific circumstances and prefer to go without if those aren't met. Once the percentage of people in a country's population who don't want/are avoiding sex is in the double-digits, though, I'm pretty sure you're running into something that transcends the biological and warrants investigation.

rora

@Nina B.@twitter Yeah. I live in Japan and my single friends here don't seem too concerned about not having sex. when the subject comes up, they do say that they want to get married, but they don`t date at all, so... it's complicated.

myrna.minkoff

I think I'm turning Japanese... I really think so.

Aleya Vigiogarms@facebook

Even though I grew out of my anime faze, I have always wondered what the effect of anime porn of hyper sexualized underage school girls combined with women wanting more then to be just obedient housewives and be independent was. Maybe boys are feed these shitty representations of women and when the grow up they find it shocking when women don't want to be their perfect waifus uguu~ so no sex ensues?

Also does anyone know if they have a sex positive blogging scene like here? From what I have seen of Japan, while it does use sexual imagery a lot it does not seem to be too keep on people actually having sex.

machinesss

@Aleya Vigiogarms@facebook well you could wonder the same thing about the effect of western porn on men in north america. being shown women are obedient sex objects in porn, and then growing up to find out that most women actually have needs of their own and won't let you treat them like that could mean that there's no sex, but that doesn't really seem to be the case... not saying that your point is invalid, but boys are fed shitty representations of women here too.

Gabriela Biro@facebook

@Aleya Vigiogarms@facebook I've met some guys who can't seem to maintain relationships because of their distorted ideas of women.

D.@twitter

Most of what I know about Japanese culture comes from reading Amélie Nothomb. One of the most striking things I remember from "Ni d'Adam, ni D'Eve," was that during gatherings (particularly business dinners), someone called a "conversationist" would be employed; the person would have dossiers on everyone at the party, and he/she would literally talk the entire time FOR everyone else.

you're a kitty!

If anyone is interested in the US's stats, a long discussion on the article in our house led to finding this article.

Airbuddy

Is anyone familiar with the horrible Japanese concept of the "Christmas Cake?" Basically, what do you do with a stale, uneaten Christmas Cake after the 25th of December? Then, what do you do with an unmarried woman after they're 25?

Inkling

@Airbuddy
Talk about grad school?
Invite it for drinks to escape your holiday-drunk family?
Go to a strip club for 8 minutes, only to leave giggling and shivering with it?
Peruse Better Homes and Gardens?

Danzig!

@Airbuddy Where is that not a concept, though.

Inkling

Eat it all night long?!

TokyoPlum

I've lived in Tokyo for seven years, and here are a few things I've noticed: 1)Post-college, men and women don't socialize much--women usually hang out with women and men with men, which can make it difficult to meet potential romantic partners (and when you go to a bar, you hang out with the people you came with--you don't often introduce yourself to strangers); 2)Japanese women suddenly want more than just a silent breadwinner as a partner, but many Japanese men remain so overworked that they don't have time to talk / think about anything other than their (often dull) jobs; 3)There's a lot of transition going on (plenty of it good), with people starting to question gender roles and the more rigid definitions of relationships and marriage, but as with much change in Japan, progress is VERY SLOW.

Personally, I'm really happy that Japanese women are starting to stand up and say that they don't want to get married, especially if marriage means what it's traditionally meant in the past (that they have to quit their jobs, that they'll be solely responsible for child care, and that they suddenly have little in the way of an identity outside of wife/mother).

Post a Comment

You must be logged-in to post a comment.

Login To Your Account