Say It Isn’t So

I came across this article quite a while ago (before this blog was started) and hadn’t thought of it until I had a conversation with two male Japanese co-workers last week. Do “grass-eating” men really exist in abundance in Japan? And just the men that are in my age range (20-34)!! Sheesh, I hope not! Anyway, about the conversation I had…

(Names have been changed to protect the innocent ^_^) Tanaka san is the older of the two, aged about 28. Tanaka san stands tall at over 6 ft, thin and aloof, but kind and friendly (once you get to know him). Junpei, is a few years younger. About 6 ft, he is a bit more on the “healthy” side body-wise, and is outgoing and chatty. From my experience working with them, they are both very smart and like many Japanese men I’ve known, work long hours and weekends. Both were born and lived in Japan, have relocated to the States to work and are single.

During lunch I was having a light-hearted conversation with them, discussing random things i.e. life in the city we live in, as well as the latest company news. All of a sudden, the conversation makes a turn and Junpei points out that Tanaka san is looking for a girlfriend but (in so many words) has no game or real social skills to attract women. Tanaka san turns a bit red, but admits that what Junpei says is true. Junpei adds that Tanaka san’s biggest problem is that “he cares, but acts like he doesn’t care.” To which Tanaka san replied, “yes, I have no motivation.” Of course, the first thing that popped into my mind is, “he’s a grass-eater”. In the most tactful way I could, I told him that I had once read an article that claimed that some Japanese men were indeed not interested in women or sex, but were rather content with being alone and working all the time. Surprisingly, Tanaka san confirmed my words were true and said that although he wants a relationship, he has no motivation to talk to women, knows that once he is in a relationship he will have to give her a lot of attention, and would just rather not be bothered. I then turned to Junpei, saying, “he really needs help”. Tanaka san, wanting to take the spotlight off of himself, pointed to Junpei and said, “help him too. He is also single.” Junpei quickly retorted, “yes, but I am aggressive. I do not need any help.” I would have to agree, just judging from the way he has given me the once over more than twice, and doesn’t seem to mind that I noticed, he is indeed aggressive and goes after what he wants.

You guessed it: Dude is seriously applying lip gloss

So there you have it. Two Japanese guys I work with who are on completely different ends of the dating/social spectrum. Later when Junpei had left, Tanaka san told me that he is actually really afraid to be dumped, and feels that he will be if he ever enters into a relationship. Some of you may think that perhaps Tanaka san is gay, but I don’t think he is. Actually, I as well as my girlfriends have seen him checking me out more than a few times and his eyes seem to twinkle when we talk, especially when its in Japanese. So much so, that one of my friends swore to me that he would soon ask me out. That day never came. But who knows? When I asked Tanaka san what kind of woman he was looking for, he said that she didn’t have to be Japanese, BUT, she would have to at least be semi-fluent in the language. When relaying this to my friend, she replied, “he means you!!” While I don’t know if that is true, or am not really bothered either way, I thought it was funny and had to share it with you ladies. The crazy thing is if I really did have feelings for this guy, I’d think, just by his actions, that he was completely disinterested and/or gay. This article (as well as the conversation I had with the guys) really opened my eyes to the bigger picture. And trust, ladies, we will be discussing this subject in greater detail in the future…

23 thoughts on “Say It Isn’t So

  1. I’m glad the definition of “grass-eaters” was defined. I thought that it literally meant that they actually ate it. Whew!( Then again, I’m still trying to get my folks love of chitterlings. Pig intestines…. absolutely nasty! I think that i rather eat grass)

    No, I wouldn’t think that Tanaka would be gay for not having a woman in his life . As a woman, I haven’t been in a relationship for several years,but I’m straight. There are times where I get those feelings of wanting to be romanced,but these days,one cannot afford to be negligent of their actions without them increasing their chances of contracting AIDS, VD and pregnancy. If it’s meant to be, it will be.

    However, it’s a problem when all the man does is work and be alone..that is not good. I agree with you guys,but it seems that he has some sort of anti-social issue..a definite fear of rejection.Possibly, he has been rejected for so many years that he couldn’t take it anymore and the only way he knows how to cope is with his work and being alone. He does need some kind of help. Maybe there are some support groups that can help him be more assertive. Otherwise, all that work will kill him if he isn’t careful.

    • @ATLSis: seriously, that’s all he does. Before we spoke, it seemed he wanted it that way, but that’s apparently not true. He did seem to open up once I started probing…maybe he just needs someone to talk to…

  2. Actually, the term “herbivorous men” or “grass-eaters” was coined back in 2006. And yes, unfortunately, about 2/3 of men in Japan from age 20-35 claim to be grass-eaters. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the grass-eaters, and don’t worry ladies! They’re not ALL gay! Some are interested in women, but they’re just too shy to make the first move. I guess that means I need to have initiative when I study abroad next Fall in Japan, huh?

  3. I love this article!! I wish i could visit Japan, speak Japanese, and meet some Japanese men. I have been fascinated with Japan since I was little.. I dont think this article is just limited to Japanese men, but Asian men in general. And what ATLsis said in the first paragraph was funny because I thought the same thing. I thought this was a cultural thing, especially after watching Bizarre Foods!!! LOL 🙂

  4. @kayla,

    Thanks for posting the CNN video. This is very fascinating for me. It’s almost like trying to spot who’s “down low” among men here in the U.S. Some say they can tell just by looking, but when you ask “Ok what did you see that tells you this person is as you say”, they can never give a specific answer.

    Boy, but I think any guy that likes clothes or wants to take care of his appearance……gets a tough row to hoe, huh?

    Personally, I wouldn’t want some “crusty” feet, scruffy skin man laying up next to me. I like S-M-O-O-T-H skin (and hard muscles) on a man too…….(*Just Saying*)

    • i agree, there’s nothing wrong with a little manscaping…but if he asks for my lip gloss or scented lotion, or he pulls out his own, we need to talk…

      from the article and the cnn video, looks like there’s lots of different reasons why these guys end up in this category…some may be gay…others may be unlucky in love…some are rejecting the ‘caveman’ ways of their fathers/grandfathers and want to be in touch with their feelings…

      the world ain’t the same place it used to be…traditional roles have been upended and even reversed everywhere…it’s interesting to see how people in different places cope with it…though seems like every generation rejects some views of the previous ones…i would venture to guess that the gen-x and millenial men in america don’t have exactly the same level or idea of masculinity as the baby boomer men and the ones before them… or maybe things have cycled this way before, we just don’t remember…

    • @BiAlamode: lol!! ‘Crusty feet’!! Love it! Yeah, that’s just nasty…I’d prefer some ‘manscaping’ as ladibug brought out for sure. Bi is a tad metro, and I can definitely deal with that. Well, his job calls for it anyway…

      • @BOAB81,

        I just like a well groomed man, at the same time, I wouldn’t want a man that fights me for the mirror either. Back in the day, well groomed men were considered cool and sexy (i.e., Billy Dee Williams, Richard Roundtree, etc.). Now, if a man is well groomed that’s considered “soft.”

  5. @BiAlamode
    I agree! I would welcome a guy who paid THAT much attention to his appearance. Not like the nasty, scruffy, smelly guys over here who act like they forgot to shower this morning! Plus, I hear grass-eaters are great shopping partners!

  6. @ladibug
    I’d have to lay down some ground rules before he and I start hanging out:
    #1. you CANNOT wear my clothes. I paid GOOD money for those!
    #2. if you ask to use my lipgloss…actually, you shouldn’t even ask (lol!)
    and #3. you can smell good, but it’ll be a little odd if you smell like me.

    • @Lei: great question! I am not “interested” or “attracted” to either of them. I put those two words in quotation marks because I am interested and attracted to them; but for more superficial reasons: they are Japanese guys and I am fascinated by the culture and language, etc. Over the years of working with tons of J guys, I’ve learned alot about myself and have been able to distinguish my interest in the inner person vs. interest in someone who’s fascinatingly (is that a word??) different. If one of them asked me out, I’d say yes, but trust, it wouldn’t lead anywhere. Heck, the same reason they ask me out could be because they are just as curious about American or black women. I’ve known Tanaka san longer than I’ve known Junpei, and I can tell that Tanaka san and myself probably wouldn’t be compatible. I am a passionate person, and I CARE ABOUT STUFF, lol. He’s just waaaaay too laid-back for my taste. Junpei definitely has more flavor, and I’m still getting to know him, and he seems like he’d be a ton of fun to get to really know.

      There is one J guy that I’ve worked with (he now works in another of my company’s locations in another state) who I developed the HUGEST crush on. And I know it was more to do with his personality, who he is as a person. Description: he’s a senpai (older than me by a few years), tall, nice & lean build, sexy-nerdy, wears a goatee and glasses, cowboy boots, etc. VERY unique J guy that I hadn’t seen the likes of. Under different circumstances (he’s married with two kids), I’d DEFINITELY go for him. And alas, I am not in the habit of home-wrecking so….I am in the process of looking for a new J guy work-crush but he has yet to come…

      Uhm, sorry for the rambling! Did I answer your question? Lol

    • @Lei: and can I just say that I would love someone like Jun Matsumoto to work in my company??? Ayy!! He wouldn’t be able to get rid of me, lol! He’s not even that ‘hot’, perse, but he’s just sooo attractive to me! I wonder if he’s a grass-eater?

  7. Bitofabelly I totally got the whole thing you just said. I understand about being “attracted” to a person but not attracted to them. I think I drove this guy away by trying to constantly find out if he was interested or “interested” in me.
    We worked together for about a year and 1/2 and we were more like bro/sis, but other co-workers would tease us about getting together. When I first started there he was in a 6yr relationship with a girl who looked like Gwntyh Paltrow w/out the hollywood glamour and I wasn’t attracted or “attracted” to him. Then about a 6 months before I left he ended the relationship and about a month before I left I could sense something happening, but I brushed it off. A month after I left he called me and we proceeded to talk, but I always felt he was talking to me because I was the only black girl he had really hung around and was fascinated by it. I didn’t want to be the “Queen” scenario where he would hook up w/ me in the barn but go home to his real family.
    Sorry for long rant

    • @Lei: on top of that, I don’t want to be someone’s ‘black chick experience’. Puh-leeze. I ain’t got time for that. You either like me for who I am, not what I am, or I’m done….so yes I give the same courtesy to the J guys I know. I am ‘attracted’ to them because they are different, but the truth is that I don’t have ‘feelings’ for them. Part of growing up! ^_^

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