If you’ve lived in Japan for a while now you may have overheard people saying things like: “She’s sure an age-man, her husband got promoted right after they got married,” or “That girl is so nikushoku-joshi, she doesn’t care if the guy she has a crush on has a girlfriend or not. She just goes for him,” — or, “I was a bari-kyari until I got pregnant. Now, I’m a yuru-kyari and earn less than before, but I’m glad I made that decision because everyone in my family is happy!”
Age-man, nikushoku-joshi, bari-kyari, yuru-kyari. These are all words and phrases that categorize and describe a particular type of women. You’ve probably noticed that Japanese women like to and tend to categorize others – and themselves – based on their personality, actions and behaviors, as well as how they’d chosen to live their lives.
This tendency probably has a lot to do with the importance of wa (group harmony) in the Japanese society – how one should always belong in and conform to a group, and be both dependent on and responsible to other members of that group. This, I believe, is why there are so many categories/groups out there for Japanese women – and why at joshi-kai (women’s get-together) and other similar occasions, you’ll hear remarks such as the ones above made over and over again.
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