Japan Today

From carnivores to herbivores: how men are defined in Japan


The popular media in Japan have coined various expressions to describe certain categories of men such as “Nikushoku Danshi” (carnivore men) and ”Soshoku Danshi” (herbivore men), though they have nothing to do with what guys eat.

Japanese magazines and TV programs often use expressions such as “〇〇 Danshi” (〇〇 men). The Japanese magazine FYTTE, in its March issue, introduces many specific categories of men.

Here is a list of some categories, so that you will know what they mean when you hear Japanese people and media mention “〇〇 Danshi”.

Nikushoku Danshi (Carnivorous Men)

“Nikushoku Danshi” refers to men who are active in seducing women. Young Japanese women are said to be attracted to this type of guy whom they find strong and reliable.

Soshoku Danshi (Herbivore Men)

“Soshoku Danshi” are passive types who are shy about relationships. Many do not have a girlfriend and are content just to be friends. According to marriage consulting company PARTNER AGENT’s survey of 400 single men who are around 30 years old, 75% said that they think they are “Soshoku Danshi.”

“Gyoshoku Danshi” (Fish-eating Men)

"Gyoshoku Danshi" are not as aggressive as "Nikushoku Danshi." They tend to be very patient and will wait until the woman they are attracted to starts to love them. They are usually smart and calm. There are various sub-categories for "Gyoshoku Danshi" -- men who have bit of a wild streak are called the "Grilled fish with salt type;" men who think of themselves as all-knowing are the "Teriyaki type;" men who are patient are the "Boiled fish type;" while the narcissists are the "Meuniere type."

"Rolled cabbage Danshi" (Rolled cabbage Men)

"Rolled cabbage Danshi" look like "Soshoku Danshi" and have a low-key fashion style and appearance (they like to wear cardigans and sneakers). However, their personality is actually "Nikushoku Danshi" -- sort of like a hamburger in a cabbage roll. When women get close to them and they go out for a drink together, the men turn into "Nikushoku Danshi."

"Creamy Danshi" (Creamy men)

"Creamy Danshi" have a sweet smile, beautiful skin and mainly black hair. They are hard workers. They care about a woman's feelings, are good listeners and give good responses. Though their appearance is soft and sweet, they have a masculine personality also, so they can be relied upon to support women if something happens. They "heal" women like sweets, hence the term "Creamy Danshi."

"Rikei Danshi" (Science Men)

"Rikei Danshi" think things out logically like scientists. They are defined as telling old jokes, inflexible, thinking logically, not good at relationships with people, and not good at gossip conversation. Their communication is usually predictable and they treat jokes logically, analyzing them. They are not used to communicating with women and don't keep up with trends and fashion, so they are not good at humorous conversation.

"Biyo Danshi" (Beauty Men)

"Biyo Danshi" are fastidious about their hairstyle and skin. They are defined as loving themselves the best, their way of communication is a little childish, they are moody and carefree about time. They also care how other people think of them.

"Culture Danshi" (Culture Men)

"Culture Danshi" like subculture. They are defined as bookworms, like indie films and minor things, they are not good in public, and care about their individuality. They're into literature, films, music and the humanities. They are happy when someone sympathizes with their feelings. Japanese actor Joe Odagiri is an example of "Culture Danshi." He is a scriptwriter and director of the 2009 movie "Sakurana hitotachi" (Cherry blossom like people).

"Fashion Danshi" (Fashion Men)

"Fashion Danshi" love brand new trends and rare items. They are defined as caring how they look, narcissistic, being too proud, chasing ideals, having information and knowledge about cutting-edge fashion and love temporary things such as accessories. They get new things sooner than other people and like to be the first ones to wear or own them.

"Ryori Danshi" (Cooking Men)

"Ryori Danshi" love to cook meals and prepare bento (boxed lunches). They are defined as perfectionists, dislike being conspicuous, have a good planning ability, and work hard little by little. Many of them started to cook to learn better nutritional habits and save money. Now they love cooking. They have various menu repertories, especially for bentos.

Actually, men who make their own bento are called "Bento Danshi." Japanese actor Mokomichi Hayami is an example of "Ryori Danshi" and he has his own cooking show section "MOCO'S Kitchen" in the TV program "ZIP!" on NTV. He has published cookbooks such as "Hayami Mokomichi ga tsukuru 50 no recipe kimi to tabetara, kitto oishii." (50 recipes from Mokomichi Hamami that are delicious to eat together) and "MOCO meshi kimi wo egao ni suru ryouri" (MOCO meals to make you smile). Actor Osamu Mukai is another example of "Ryori Danshi." He plays a French chef in the Fuji TV drama "Hungry!"

"Outdoor Danshi" (Outdoor Men)

"Outdoor Danshi" love outdoor activities and being in touch with nature. They are defined as being strict on themselves, doing things without saying much, good at cooking, and often dress in sports wear. "Outdoor Danshi" include sociable people who enjoy camping, hiking in the mountains and like the sea. They usually can do things by themselves, so they don't rely on women much. Japanese actor Eita is an example of "Outdoor Danshi." He says he has liked communing with nature from childhood and mountain climbing since last year.

"Otaku Danshi" (Geek Men)

"Otaku Danshi" are maniacs about their hobbies. They don't pay too much attention to their appearance, are a bit shy, speak passionately about their interests and talk faster than others. They like to hang out with people who have the same hobby. They are not good at communicating with women unless the woman can talk about his hobby.

"Otomekei Danshi" (Girly type Men)

"Otomekei Danshi" love sweets and pretty things, just like a girl. They are defined as loving sweets, having girly hobbies, neutral appearance, having pretty accessories, and the opposite personality of "Nikushoku Danshi." They are mild-mannered.

© Japan Today

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Why can't people just be themselves? Having to choose from such a limited set of lifestyles is restricting.

0 ( +10 / -9 )

No kidding, I thought we'd have 3 of 4 types. Start scrolling down and all this big list of "Danshi" types is never ending. LOL

I'm 90% “Nikushoku Danshi” and 10% “Rolled cabbage Danshi” by the way.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

meaningful of otherwise I just noticed there are 13 types one more than 12 signs of of the Zodiac.

1 ( +3 / -1 )

Some of those men-types are just metrosexuals.

1 ( +6 / -4 )

Creamy Danshi? Hmmmmmm......By this title, I was thinking something else....

1 ( +6 / -4 )

This is great. I can target my boys even better now. Will use different colored nail polish on both hands and feet and experiment!

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

I can change my Danshi type depending on the person i have in front of me.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Women's magazines don't have anything better to write about than ways to categorize men? I think we should return the favor someday.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Worst article ever - stopped reading half-way through the fish bit.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Here's one more type:

He's often seen to be very confused about what's happening around him. Has trouble communicating and frequently makes social faux pas without realising it. His fashion sense is mixed but includes more and more Uniqlo stuff as time goes on. He has amazing drinking powers... very strong for alcohol. He's even more carnivorous than the nikushoku danshi and in fact spends most of free time chasing women. On dates he expects women to go dutch so he is considered rather mean and stingy. He never cooks much, instead preferring a sandwich or ready made meal from 7-11.

Yes, it's the gaijin danshi.

21 ( +22 / -2 )

Ha! It's a giggle - who says the Japanese have no sense of humour.

So, what is it boys? I guess I am bits of a few, but probably mostly outdoor danshi, with a bit Gyoshoku Danshi and a spinkle of rolled cabbage danshi!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So - pretty much what it is saying is that - like the rest of the developed and undeveloped world - all men are different?!

Definitely spotted my husband in amongst that lot though - good to finally put a label to it! You want to have fun with my husband - tell him his hair looks thinner - he will wig out (pardon the pun!) for days!

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

Good article JT... always enjoy reading anything that gives insight into Japan's culture. I'm Niku/Outdoor... with a bit of Hobby/Creamy thrown in.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Obviously the amount of these categories is getting out of hand. But of course, there will be more to come.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Many Japanese women I speak to seem to be very tired and aren't interested in these classification. They seem to be tired with Japanese men in general (maybe that's why marriage and reproduction numbers are steadily going down?)

The complaints I hear most are "Japanese men think they're so cool and tough, but once they go to another country, they can't do anything and are very scared", and "they are too soft".

I think there's a big divide in the Japanese society, namely between men and women. Japanese men live a bit in the past - as if the bubble and yuppie-ism were still existing. Japanese women (the ones I meet at least) are more modern, more interested in the world and in new stuff, try to learn foreign languages, or even try to go abroad to study and work (for a reason I guess).

It can't be a coincidence that there are so many couples of Western men and Japanese women while there are just a few Western women with Japanese men.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Japanese seem to have this obsession with putting things into little boxes and categorizing things down to the point that would make the most extreme accountant crazy.

Everything from blood type to this silly list of guy-types illustrates this point.

Dear Japan, despite your efforts to categorize the entire universe into tiny boxes, very little can or should be put into such pigeon holes. People are not robots, nor are they scripted characters. Each human being is complex, unique and has attributes that set him/her apart. So your category expectations reduce these factors and ignore the very things that make human beings interesting.

It is sad to see a society so obsessed with these shallow aspects. And perhaps that is why there is such profound isolation, loneliness, disaffection and failed relationships here.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

@HansNFranz: Very much in agreement. Hate to say it but overall I have very little respect for Japanese men in general while I have a lot of respect for Japanese women! The hardworking housewifes of Japan and many others get a lot of respect from me.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

5 minutes of my life was just wasted here. Very infantile material here.

Don't get me wrong JT. You post good stories. I can forget about this one.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

NN, agreed, was thinking the same thing...

... and this person goes in this box, and this one in this box, and that one in that compartment, and this one in this pidgeon hole... Yay!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Each human being is complex, unique and has attributes that set him/her apart.

Not in Japan.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

I don't have much respect for Japanese women either as they are the ones looking for men who fit the right "box". I believe that's why foreign men are so popular in Japan, because they live outside the "box". This article talks about "aggressive" Japanese men also but I have yet to see one.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

Choiwaruoyaji. I disagree. Japanese are just as complex as any other nationality. But they bury it under the illusion of fitting into little boxes.

Case in point. A recent converstation overheard where Mrs.Y said "He went to the right schools, has the right job and fit my taste, but I am not happy with him. He isn't what I expected." Well Mrs.Y. Had you come into the relationship expecting a human being to be there and not a catalogue order model guy, then perhaps you would have been prepared for some variation in personality. But since you drove your entire motivation for marriage based upon which box Mr.Y fit in, then you were ill prepared for reality.

The sad point is that Japanese are so busy trying to define reality, that many here miss it entirely. But I should be clear, this is a problem specific to the younger generations. I do believe that the generation who rebuilt Japan are not nearly this naive.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Lots of categories here but the main point is that the majority of men here seem to be lazy or just don't know how to talk to, please or make women feel wanted. When I'm on the trains or even drinking at a bar, there seems to be more guys interested in staring at me than at the gorgeous women who might be there. Shame, but as we say where I come from 'More for me!'

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I am combini gyouza danshi: not as fresh and delicious as the real thing but will do in a pinch. In other words, I like older gals who may not be piping hot and delicious but still fit the bill for an older guy. Yum.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

What is the fascination with labels? There are good guys, bad guys and liars.

If men and women took the trouble to understand how we are different (and learn from it) life and relationships would be far less stressful :)


It's an old video, but it contains some good relationship advice for men and women - English with Japanese subtitles.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@AmericanForeigner Aren't you contradicting yourself here when you say "I don't have much respect for Japanese women either as they are the ones looking for men who fit the right 'box'" but your conclusion is "I believe that's why foreign men are so popular in Japan, because they live outside the 'box'" If Japanese women look for a man who fits in the box, then how can (foreign) men who are outside the box be so popular? Something doesn't add up.

I understand that in certain parts of Tokyo, there might be a concentration of mixed partnerships but overall, for the whole of Japan, it is still rare. Japanese women who prefer foreign men more often choose to live outside Japan, because the stigma isn't there. A Japanese woman who chooses a foreign partner is still seen as "too eccentric" or "against nature" by the major part of Japanese people, especially the older generation, while a Japanese man with a blonde (and therefore, automatically beautiful LOL) foreign woman is applauded as some kind of hero.

The longer I live in Japan, the less respect I have for Japanese men. There are a few exceptions of course, who are all guys who have lived abroad and are really down-to-earth, cool, and realistic, but as far as the typical Tokyo, well-paid salary man goes, there is very little substance behind the suit and hair.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

men are two types, real men and the opposite.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

have a good planning ability, and work hard little by little.

What does this even mean?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Sad to say that the roles people imbed themselves in here cannot help but generate the sad, one dimensional surfaces that we see on people so often.

But the fact is that beneath that there are a lot of people trapped in those roles and dying to get out. Yet out is exactly what people cannot achieve. Unless, like some we all know, they escape abroad.

My parnter is Japanese. Thankfully she is quite unique to start with and does not care about fitting into anyone's box definition. But she does pay a price for it socially in Japan. As well as a price for being married with a foreigner.

It is sad. This one dimensional facade is one of the things I hate most about life in Japan. I miss being around people who value their originality and are not afraid to step out of line with expectations. Life around these friends is far more interesting and filled with opportunity and hope. While anyone looking at the sad collection of tired salarymen and OLs on any evening train can see the absence of both hope and the inability to generate opportunities for change.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

If I see a flash I look at it. No harm there.

Like my wife said: Worth to look at the menu but be careful what you order. Heck she also perused the menu. ;)

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I suppose Mr cleo would fall under ryori danshi, though that does not define him. Hard-working, faithful, considerate (mostly), family-oriented, fun to be with yet also with a serious side, intellectual yet not lacking the common touch when it's appropriate, and definitely hot. Takaramono danshi.

-4 ( +4 / -11 )

@tkoind2 "This one dimensional facade is one of the things I hate most about life in Japan. I miss being around people who value their originality and are not afraid to step out of line with expectations"

Your observations are true, and I share them although I have to admit it's easy to paint a too negative picture of the "salary man" or "OL" life. They follow the rules of their particular group, but they get something out of it, which, if you think about it, is true even for the much-heralded Western "individualist".

If you look a little closer at Western people who value originality and individualism, i.e. do not consider themselves to follow the mainstream, you will see that they too, without fail, follow a script. Namely the script of their social peer group of "individualists". It seems to be something that we as humans cannot really get over.

Take the New York (or Berlin, or Paris) Hipsters for example. There's a group which sees themselves as the absolute cream of individualism. But from the outside, it is clear that they are not individualists at all - they listen to the same music, read the same books, dress the same, and have the same interests. And this is natural - because a person wants to socialize with others, and has to create a common basis to share and use for social proof. For the Western hipsters, or should I call them 'artist types', this somehow has to include the delusion that they are different from everybody else. Their self-esteem is based on a delusion.

That's why I argue that the Japanese salary man / OL, aren't so much worse off. They don't seem to have to create this false image of individualism which I described above, and are therefore more at peace with themselves.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

While anyone looking at the sad collection of tired salarymen and OLs on any evening train can see the absence of both hope and the inability to generate opportunities for change.

What an excellent description of this joyless society.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Relax.. it's just a little light reading! After I saw the first labels I thought: "Geez, why is it always food involved somehow?" LOL Then I saw there were another variations, like 'outdoor', 'culture' and 'fashion'.. Funny article anyway.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Lumines: Agree... lighten up everybody... its not like all women categorize men and its not like all men fall into just one category. I think they're also having some fun with it too. Most of the talk regarding these "categories" is coming from young women just having some fun.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Great article there. With so many choices. this should make the work for matrimonial agencies easier. I wonder if you can combine them too to get your perfect man. I love the Creamy Danshi expression, bring out the chocolate. My hubby is definitely an Outdoor Danshi.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This is funny things. I am king of Nikushoku Danshi, but durring university days it was much better. Japan is great country to be young and tremendously wealthy.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

"I'm every Danshi man, it's all in me! Anything, you want done baby. I can do it naturally, now! Whow! Whow! Whow!

-Whitney Houston's, I'm every woman.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

huh!! LOL!!!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I have a feeling that another characteristic of the "Rolled Cabbage Men" is that they smell pretty bad.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

What an annoying list! So many are just a sub-group of another category. I need a flow chart over here!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I hope that this list was just for fun. People should simply be themselves -- no more, no less.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

C'mon...this list is crazy. Creamy Danshi??? LOL! How about Cream-filled with a flaky sweet pastry outside Danshi. The list could go on forever.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

don't you all think it's time to " define " the J ladies too ? Their preference in foods can reveal a lot...........sausage ? steak ? raw fish ? cooked fish? clam ?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I can't imagine pigeonholing men into various types helps form good relationships at all. I can easily imagine a woman carelessly picking her type, and thus avoiding what could potentially be a caring, perhaps lifelong partnership. Furthermore, in an attempt to get into a relationship, a man could attempt to contain his true character to fit into one of these niches, and does that ever work out in the long run?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The big question for all those types of men above is, whether they can afford their wife's costly Louis Vuitton habit.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Wow, these comments have a lot of Japanese man bashing from foreign men. I don't hear a lot of it from foreign women here, so why all the hate, guys?

All these labels are pretty funny though. I'd like a rolled cabbage danshi please!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japanese seem to have this obsession with putting things into little boxes and categorizing things down to the point that would make the most extreme accountant crazy.

And yet tkoind2 puts the entire population into ONE BOX. -Yuetsumousou Danshi.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I prefer the Gaijin danshi, as chouwaruoyaji puts it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This labeling thing is getting ridiculous, and the 'herbivore' thing is one of the stupidest catch-phrases to hit this trend-hungry nation for a while.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A nice bit of creative writing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was definitely shoshoku danshi in my younger years. That was a waste and I've shifted much closer to gyoshoku danshi in my middle years. Maybe it's the mellowing of age that's prevented a full shift over to nikushoku danshi.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Darn hit submit too early.

So will this list be combined with the Blood Type list to come up with an extensive "analysis" of men in Japan? ;-)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So Japanese men are food?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Otomekei Danshi ( Girly type Men )"

These are similar to the Girlie Men Arnold Schwarzenegger used to talk about, ha ha!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

They forgot the biggest category of men in Japan - "Sukebe Danshi."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well that escalated quickly. I wonder how much time is left till the men on the west take on feminine characteristics?. I'm a MGTOW so i don't care, In fact stop mating altogether. What worries me it's the hobbies? Desert appreciating? Even though not mentioned on this article, Men are wearing purses and using bras. That's scary. I wonder if this is the result of not enough genetic diversity?. Japan it's an island, Perhaps foreigners would introduce some new genes and the resulting men would be less questionable.

In the other hand if women are becoming more carnivorous, Though it isn't mentioned here. I wonder if they would take over, Would these "effeminate" males be portrayed on Anime, Manga, and other media outlets as sexual as women are as a expression of male sexuality. Women have always been portrayed on caring on what the man can do for her and for how long, it's never explored on what's the sexuality of a woman. So if women were to take over with these new characteristics, Would they be more sexually expressive than our current women and by doing so create a "Pornographic or Erotic Market" that could take off and rival our current one. As a current one it's geared towards males and are the big spenders. Men don't care and we accept our sexuality and we explicitly talk about what gets us ready to rumble. Whereas our current women on talk about men on "Utility Based" expressions. Wether the guy is a gentleman, and how loaded with cash he is, The furthest we've gone it's how to make women orgasm more easily, But the talk on how they are attracted to the opposite sex it's rarely made out.

Seems like japan it's now the brewing ground on what's to come for the west, Though it's not going to be a natural thing that would come to place; It's more of a conscious one taking place already. At any rate this should be interesting.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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