Japanese men explained

Why are Japanese salarymen always puking on the sidewalks?

“Japanese vomit is kind of special express of satisfaction. We Japanese are making loud sounds when eat soba noodles or udon. This mean ‘Thank you wonderful soba chef! This is delicious!’ So when Japanese is vomit, we say ‘Oh! That was great nomikai! I having so much fun now!'” “Ask Kazuhide”, Japanzine March 08. More serious attempts at an explanation tend to start with Japanese lacking certain hormones, but as countless researchers have proven that behaviour such as British boys getting rowdy is overwhelmingly cultural this might be a classic case of “many a true word..”

Why are adults quite happy to been seen in public reading manga comics?

First of all, the vast majority of Japanese adults would in fact be highly embarrassed to be caught reading a manga, let alone a pornographic one, in public. The salarymen you seeing reading dodgy comics and magazines on trains are the same who slurp their pasta, spit on the ground etc. in ways that well mannered Japanese never would. Manga does remain more popular amongst adults than in other countries, though. Amongst the salaryman population, this is because they hardly have the energy to read anything more demanding, especially as reading difficult kanji can put a strain on even strong readers. There is also no social pressure to spend your free time productively and an acceptance of reading manga etc. for nostalgic reasons.

Why do Japanese guys cuddle each other as they stagger back to the station?

By doing exactly the opposite of what they would usually do, they show that they are properly drunk and relaxed and had a good time.

Why is facial hair so rare in Japan?

Some Japanese guys have problems growing a full beard, but it is more a case of image. For example, bushy beards are still usually a sign of radical politics if not actual communist party membership

Why do Japanese esute beauty parlours offer young men depilation of their stubble?

It could be the influence of Photoshop (photos from Europe are retouched again to make the skin look ultra smooth before they are used in Japan), or it could be because so many “stylish” male celebrities are gay but in the closet, a New Mannish attempt to get popular with the ladies, or a reaction against their gruff macho fathers.

Why are there men sleeping in cars and cafes in the middle of a working day?

A lot of them are salesmen. As sales is about the lowest status white collar job in Japan (hence why it is one of the few jobs available to mothers returning to work) quite a few salesmen are slackers. Luckily for them, their job is out of the office where there are plenty of places for a nap as long as their wife and/or parents don’t find out. There are also examples of men being too scared to tell their wife they have lost job and so leaving for “work” everyday in shirt and tie, only to spend months killing time in a cafe. There might also be the occasional homeless guy dressed smartly so he doesn’t get moved on

Why are there so many haircare products for men?

It could be because other parts of a schoolkid’s or businessman’s appearance is so standardized that it is the only part they feel they can express themselves in. There is also the factor that looking older than your age with grey hair etc. in a seniority based system can make it look like you have been passed over for promotion.

Why do Japanese (especially men) use an open handed chopping motion to show they want to get past?

Apparently, originally it was meant to show that you were not carrying a sword. The fact that polite table manners in France means keeping your hands above the table is apparently for the same reason.

Why do some men hold handbags?

While this is well passed its peak (in one survey in the bubble years “office ladies” voted it the single most annoying thing about their male colleagues), you do still see it amongst those who haven’t realised the 80s is over yet. The fashion reasons were copying everything that happens in Italy and many of the male fashion role models being gay and (needless to say in Japan) not out. The practical reason could be that it is rude to carry a big bag like a backpack in a busy train, and absolutely taboo to leave it on your back.

Why did the samurai topknot hairstyle disappear?

Apparently the first impetus to cut off the topknot (just the same as the start of wearing Western clothes and eating Western food) came from the Meiji period conscription army that replaced the samurai class. As the topknot would not fit under western-style military hats and helmets it had to be cut off. This was spread slowly to the rest of the country by a government campaign to get rid of all traditions (also spitting, mixed bathing etc) that could make foreigners think the Japanese were “uncivilised” and so extend the amount of time the Japanese had to suffer under the indignity of the same “unequal treaties” on trade that the Japanese had forced on the Koreans.

Why is there no separate shower gel for men available in Japan?

See the two reasons above, but also due to a lack of a macho culture about these kind of things, a lack of room in Japanese bathrooms, and because the wife makes most of these kinds of buying decisions for her husband.

Why do strangers keep pointing out (some almost angrily) that my bag is open?

Because that is exactly the kind of slackness that pisses that late middle aged guy off about young people and/or foreigners

Why aren’t construction workers and drunken all male groups more lecherous? 

This is entirely my own theory, but I reckon the testosterone level of Japanese males in just lower, as evidenced by less body hair, less balding with age etc. There’s probably something cultural going on as well, but can’t work it out.

Why do blonde gaijin women get so much more attention?

If you are going to go for Western women, you are going to be looking for something really different from the Japanese.

Why is the word for geek (おたく otaku) and the polite for you (お宅 おたく otaku) the same?

They could just be homophones, something which Japanese has a huge number of, but one explanation link the two. One sign of the lack of social skills of otaku was using overformal language like お宅 with each other, so much so that it eventually became their name for each other

31 Comments

  1. shaash said,

    October 24, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Why Are Japanese Guys So Concerned For Their Looks? And ALso Is It True That Generally A Women In Japan Has Dominant Role To Play In RElationships?

  2. saint saens said,

    September 14, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    Fascinating read, thank you!

  3. Ed said,

    September 19, 2010 at 10:05 am

    I have been to Japan many many times and one thing that fascinates me is what I call the ‘elf boy’ look that many young men develop. This usually means wearing a very tight fitted suit or clothes over a skinny androgynous body, a big mop of spikey hair and shoes with a big 1970s heel. The result is very feminine. It seems to have originated in male hostess bars (they all look like this) and I think it is a fantasy that women have encouraged and will pay for in contrast to the male chauvinist husbands they have to deal with at home. A woman will have to cook, clean, tidy everything for a man at home. So their fantasies have created this boyish, childlike, non-threatening looking man, who will listen to all their problems, tell them how nice they look and basically be kind to them. Where else in the world are there bars of men who look like girls, that women pay hundreds of dollars just to sit and talk with.

  4. John said,

    September 25, 2010 at 8:14 am

    Japanese guys are the most effeminate I have ever seen in my life. Wearing handbags, womens sunglasses and almost beehive like hairstyles make them look utterly ridiculous to us foreigners but because it is so common in Japan nobody looks twice. In fact it is us ‘normal’ fashion wearing foreigners that Japanese people tend to look down upon and have a good laugh about. Look at the gaijin in his tshirt and jeans, that’s so damned hilarious I can’t stop laughing! Anyone wishing to visit Japan better be prepared to be mocked if you aren’t dressed like an effeminate douchebag……..it gets old very quickly and can ruin your holiday if you aren’t prepared to look past it or ignore it. Japanese seem to hate foreigners as well so don’t expect to be treated with the same respect they give each other. You are inferior.

    • Fly said,

      February 13, 2012 at 1:44 pm

      loling forever @ you. Why so bitter?

      Don’t be angry that J-men look better than you. Although, I guess if I was a fat, hairy slob I’d feel pretty worthless walking through Kabukicho at 8 in the evening as well.

      Also, this Western obsession with homosexuals and labelling a male that takes pride in his appearance or shows any emotion as “effeminate” is mind-boggling. Keep your childish values inside your own country, please. Japan doesn’t need or want them.

      • Shinji Fukawa said,

        May 15, 2012 at 6:05 pm

        Agreed

      • Testosterone said,

        April 21, 2014 at 5:58 pm

        I like being *childish* than *effeminate* !

        “Japan doesn’t need or want them” => don’t need Japan either, I studied the language because I like it, not the country :p

  5. alexcase said,

    September 25, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Am I the only one old enough to remember glam rock style??

    Or 1980s heavy metal, come to think of it

  6. crella said,

    September 26, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    “Look at the gaijin in his tshirt and jeans, that’s so damned hilarious I can’t stop laughing! ”

    Really? I find that hard to believe….

    • Oren said,

      October 12, 2010 at 12:11 pm

      Yeah. Don’t believe it. Plenty of Japanese wear t-shirts and jeans. That guy (probably American) just had a bit of a self-consciousness attack most likely brought on by being in the position of a minority for once in his life. “You are inferior”, he says. Only if you believe you are. Imagine being a member of a homogeneous society where the most access you get to foreign faces is in the movies. Actually seeing a foreign face, in person, might make you stare a bit, right? Just out of amazement and curiosity, right? Right. Most Japanese are aware enough NOT to stare (but only look out the corner of their eye), but some Japanese (just like some of the people everywhere) have no home training and will stare because you are interesting to them and they don’t know any better. It took some getting used to, and it still bothers me from time to time, but I just accept it as a consequence of being something interesting in an otherwise bland (anthropogenically bland, that is) place.

  7. crella said,

    September 26, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    “Am I the only one old enough to remember glam rock style??”

    No, not at all….I remember the Supremes! :-D

  8. alexcase said,

    September 27, 2010 at 5:55 am

    I totally agree crella. Most Japanese dress in ways that hardly vary at all from most other countries, if anything with somewhat square haircuts. The girly style is a minority thing if you really take a representative sample. Being British, might I also suggest there is a class distinction in those that do and don’t follow this style, just as there is with gaaru style?

  9. alexcase said,

    September 27, 2010 at 5:56 am

    So, can you see any difference between glam rock and Japanese girly-boys?

  10. crella said,

    September 30, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Is this a Tokyo thing or what? I don’t see many here, outside of hosts. But ya, they do look like glam rockers, or anime characters…

  11. harukogirl said,

    November 25, 2011 at 3:07 am

    お宅 doesn’t literally mean “you” – its meaning is more close to “your home/ of your household.” And so, actually, the “two” words otaku are the SAME word.
    Because it means “of/pertaining to the home,” someone who stayed at home focused on one thing (a geek) became known as an otaku.

  12. crella said,

    November 27, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    The difference being that it’s written in hiragana or katakana, not kanji which in effect makes it a whole different word . オタクwill never mean anything but someone who is obsessed with anime or computer games, and ‘お宅 ‘will continue to be used as an honorific ‘you’.

  13. crella said,

    November 27, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    As for the construction worker question, in Japan ‘work’ is ‘work’ and work is not a place for doing anything but work so catcalling etc would be unseemly. There’s also the risk factor involved (will the woman take it as a compliment, be insulted, ignore it?) and the Japanese are risk-averse.

  14. annoymous a. said,

    January 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Most interesting and enlightening sets of questions and answers.

  15. md said,

    August 18, 2012 at 10:22 am

    I mean like I’m from the middle east and I know about the western style mostly, but that isn’t style it’s how a guy looks. no offense but a man who looks look like a girls and pluck their eyebrows isn’t normal, but hey if that’s their cool look whatever. but , most of the people don’t find it attractive. yes there are other countries who wear girly clothes but that means they are gay am I right? Korea are like that too but not that much! I mean they do not do anything with their face. I mean did you hear about the gazette I don’t know ’bout japan but as it said it is one of the best bands in Japan ‘course maybe their songs are good but their style???? they wear dresses for heavens sake! no offense maybe their gay. your right Oren were outsiders and there are ALOT of normal looking people. and they don’t like foreigners ? the only place I want to travel is Japan, but they say they are really polite people.

    • Brit said,

      October 22, 2012 at 9:03 am

      Just because men dress strangely doesn’t mean they are strange. And none of the GazettE members are gay as far as I’ve heard and the only time I’ve seen one of them wear a dress was in one pv, but it was more like a kimono. Just because someone is Girly, doesn’t mean you should instantly think they are gay, that is just shallow and stupid.

  16. firefly1152 said,

    December 5, 2012 at 12:02 am

    the GazettE is a visual kei band. It’s where band members wear outlandish costumes for LIVES and PVs.

    Yeah they wore some strange costumes over the years but they seemed to have toned down as of late.

    I miss the old GazettE : (

  17. James Yamauchi said,

    January 1, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    The comment about Japanese men having less body hair due to less testosterone is way off. I can’t speak for others, but I’m Japanese and have plenty of body hair and can easily a full, thick beard. Three hours after shaving I already have 5:00 shadow. Like everyone on my dad’s side. Maybe there is Ainu mix; something most Japanese probably wouldn’t admit to. Admittedly, I’m not in the majority, but plenty of Japanese men have body hair/full beards, and plenty of testosterone, too, thank you. A lot of Westerners have little to no body hair. Many Scandinavians as an example, despite the classic image of Vikings.
    There’s way too much Western ignorance regarding Japanese and Asians in general.

    • notinthetwilight said,

      January 30, 2013 at 7:28 pm

      is it not the same that asians have the same ignorance toward westerners? i mean, look at the way most people in this thread regard/assume westerners as being caucasians.

      • February 23, 2013 at 2:06 am

        When the US defeated them in WWII, we turned them into a nation of girlie men. They will never be masculine again,

  18. alexcase said,

    February 26, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Yeah, sure, Rafer, it was because their grandparents were defeated in WWII that a small percentage of Japanese in their late teens and early twenties have host bar haircuts…

  19. crella said,

    March 30, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    ‘is it not the same that asians have the same ignorance toward westerners? i mean’

    Perhaps, but that doesn’t address that particular comment….

  20. Carlos said,

    June 12, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Woah, i had a lot of fun reading this article and also reading everyone’s answers. I thank you all for your time, it was very illustrative. Although, i recommend you tone it down a notch on war issues, because some people tends to feel offended by some comments.

    On my personal opinion, Japanese men are by far more empowered than their female counterparts. As a result, they get away with a lot more experimentation and public exposure regarding their feminine side without being negatively criticized. This is maybe why you see many gothic-lolita look like male group bands but little to no masculine looking girl bands. Also, I’ve always felt like they have developed this idea of separating gender from sensual behavior, so they have all these androgenic looking kind of characters that somehow are perceived as alpha males as well. Just fascinating.

    I really want to go to Japan very soon, but i don’t really know how i will be perceived since i’m South American (Chilean, specifically), and if i will be able to make friends there or not.

  21. clayton rustemeyer said,

    August 25, 2013 at 11:10 am

    not all Americans look down on Asians and not all Asians look down on Americans…if people try hard enough they can get past their cultural differences. we need to look past the differences, and see what we have in common. some people won’t agree, and that’s their choice.
    i am American born and raised and i have to say that the few Japanese Chinese Indonesian and other races of people i have met are amazing, smart, and very talented. They deserve our respect, just as much as we deserve theirs. Work hard at it and you can see, there really are not that many differences at all.one day i want to go to japan to meet the friends i have there face to face, enjoy some Soba and maybe a few good manga. i go there not to stare, but to enjoy. If anything anyone staring at me would get a polite wave and bow, for the simple reason i am unique and they can see that in me.for that they have my heartfelt gratitude. you go to another country don’t be ignorant, be understanding. thats all i have to say.

  22. Terrie said,

    December 10, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Japanese kids are well behaved ? What ? Tell me where ! I’ve been teaching in elementary schools and they’re uncontrollable. Teachers don’t discipline them because they don’t know how and they’re scared of receiving calls from monster parents. My students interrupt all the time, insult the teachers, don’t raise their hands, talk between them all the time and even stand up whenever they want. I teach in 5 different schools and everywhere it’s the same. I’ve never seen such disrespect and indiscipline before.

  23. April 7, 2014 at 2:38 am

    […] are two major things that Japanese men look for a woman and these are, most often than not, good behavior and good conversation. Japanese men are known for always having that conservative side in them and […]

  24. grauss said,

    June 29, 2014 at 8:37 am

    Stereotypes.
    There are no more effeminate homsoexual guys than there are who are heterosexual so suggesting that a guy who carries a handbag is gay is just prejudiced. The stereotype is reinforced by the media which only portrays highly effeminate homosexual guys and even though there are homosexual guys who are effeminate they are a fraction of the whole male homosexual population and not that big, but since they are obviously more attention-catching, people assume all homosexual guys are that way.

    So next time you see a guy you might perceive as effeminate he most likely is heterosexual.

    By the way, there is Visual Kei in Japan. Highly androgynous that sometimes you don’t know if the person you are watching is really a woman. More than 90% of guys in Visual Kei are heterosexual. DJ Sisen told this himself.


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