lifestyle

Japan’s unpopular men and women boycott love

53 Comments
By Patrick W Galbraith

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, many of us anticipate romance — or at least some "giri" chocolate. But not a certain breed of Internet-dwelling Japanese. They call themselves "himote," or “the unpopular,” and they’re seeking asylum from the tyranny of love.

"Himote" perceive a gender bias in Japanese society — a bias against men. They reject the idea that guys must slave to accumulate capital and win women, and that romance is necessary for a fulfilled existence. With love on the back burner and time and energy to burn, these outsiders say they are happier, and smarter, than the average man.

The typical "himote" is an intelligent sort who is painfully shy and has difficulty communicating, and so spends a lot of time online. There are male and female "himote," called "mo-otoko" and "mo-jo," respectively.

A popular outlet for them is 2channel, Japan’s largest anonymous BBS site, but autonomous communities are on the rise. The Himote Army on Mixi, for instance, has 1,659 registered members, all of whom have passed a test to authenticate their "himote-ness."

In November, "himote" got a networking site of their very own: Himote SNS. In its very first month, the community attracted 15,000 members, running the gamut from self-identified “human waste” and male virgins to “home security guards” (that is, unemployed layabouts). Eighty-eight percent of users are between the ages of 20 and 40, and four out of five are male. Another 10% describe themselves as "mo-jo," and the rest are "nekama," or virtual drag queens. The rules of engagement: if you get a girlfriend, you are banned; members can only talk about "himote" topics; comments by "riajyuu," or those “satisfied in real life,” are not allowed.

“The site was originally founded so that the people who spend Christmas alone writing on 2channel could help one another get through it,” says Hiroyuki “Ega-chan” Egami, the founder of Himote SNS. “It is a place to go get companionship when you need it.”

Egami, a salaryman by day who operates as many as 100 websites as a hobby, is a self-proclaimed "himote" who is more interested in chitchat than pillow talk. He organizes regular offline meetings, like the Himote Conference in December which drew some 200 people to Loft/Plus One in Shinjuku. At the event, "shaberibeta," or those with difficulty speaking, were given their own special zone, and paper bags were passed out at the entrance for those who were too embarrassed to show their faces. Of course, couples and anyone looking too smug were turned away at the door. Egami elicited cheers when he took the stage and said, “'Riajyuu,' drop dead!”

With Valentine’s Day approaching, the group stands resolute. Their meeting, “Can I make 100 friends? Drenched in Loneliness Valentine’s Special!” will be held at Loft/Plus One just after midnight on Feb 13, in the opening hours of Valentine’s Day. Egami is hoping 200 people will attend to help ring in the holiday. The price of commiserating is 2,000 yen, but women get in free (no minors of either sex allowed). The online sister event, “Valentine’s Day Crush,” will take place on Oshaberi TV later that evening from 9-10 p.m.

Despite his extreme approach, Egami says he’s only against romance in the real world insofar as it limits the potential for personal realization. “'Himote' is a culture, it is an ideology,” he insists. “It’s about being satisfied with who we are before we go looking for partners. If we do that, we realize we don’t need them to be happy. 'Himote' camaraderie grows from that understanding.”

For more information (in Japanese), see the Himote SNS at http://motetai.egachan.net or Hiroyuki Egami’s blog at http://tinyurl.com/egami-blog. Oshaberi TV can be accessed at www.oshaberitv.com.

This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.


53 Comments
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kind of weird...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japanese society is getting weirder by the month. But having said that, I think Valentine's Day is the pits, especially in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

they have the right to defend themselves just like normal mortals do! they tried to get a dig, but most of them were rejected. some became a member by choice, but some were also driven by circumstance. we shd not judge their intention bcoz this world was not created for romantics only. they are not weird. strange perhaps, but not weird!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Its fine for them to be harmlessly weird but definitely weird. Honestly, socializing with a paper bag on your head? Do they draw a face on the paper bag?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Himote" -- a new Japanese term for "loser". No wonder the birthrate here is what it is, and dropping.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

And Loft are ok with 200 people with paper bags on their heads suddenly holding a meeting in their store?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I hope they put eye holes in the bags, could be dangerous

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You're right, the place gets weirder by the hour. Then again, what's the alternative? Having a high maintenance, Louis Vuiton totting bimbo seeing little more to life than to be kept in a manner the Korean TV dramas tell her she's entitled to?

I can well understand why so many young J men baulk, gag even at the prospect of a relationship with one of these types. Believe me, humanoid female robots are just around the corner and it'll save the day for quite a few of these blokes.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"the tyranny of love"

That would be an excellent name for a rock band!

"giri choco"

I can't wait! Of course, in my case, it's really honmei choco ha ha ha!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wow, what a thoroughly depressing read. And with some such a wonderfully unintentional flair of irony - popular clubs for unpopular people?!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They are absolutely right about the bias against men in Japan, though.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

this explains some of the social withdrawal that you see out there. makes my life so hard here. If you go to countries like China, where people are much more flexible and open, you dont see any of this crap.

i wonder how many of these are hot girls that could get a date in a second, but are so socially disfunctional that they cant live in a normal society.

perhaps they bring their manga books and do a reading like people in Greenwich Village.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm all for online communities supporting each other, etc., but how screwed up is this? Promoting the idea of being a friendless, loveless, meaningless drop-out with no self esteem is hardly a good idea

If they were losers before, they are even more so now...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Mo-jo, will soon enough turn into Juku-jo, and will be putting ads in Metro as cute girl, loves the beach,art,music, theater and pets. I have long hair and everyone thinks I look 20 but I am actually 64

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Altria - Loft/Plus One is a concert/club hall, not the popular department store http://www.loft-prj.co.jp/PLUSONE/

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It it were my website, I'd have a section for member photos. All of the photos would have a black box over the eyes. Then, a list of new members on the front page... but there would never be any new members. Maybe some sports and self-improvement stories, like maybe... "Fishing - looking fish in the eye! Yes we can!"

Wait a minute, I think these people are just failures at being true hikikomori?! Loser Hikikomori? Now that has got to sting.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Interesting. I quite feel for those people. Japanese "love standards" are as weird as those himote people standars.

The popular J-men men have to be a grey, unfunny, depressed accountant who must provide and supply money to braindead Louis Vuitton maniacs. Those himote at least decide to be happy and create another way of life.

It made me think about this french writer called Michel Houellebecq. Look it up. In his novels he transposes the marxist class struggle to the sexual and love field. He gave up this "love struggle" and is proud to brag about his ugly face, small d####, depressed mood and his impressive record of epic fails. Great read.

I wish those himote all the best. Those kind of groups might also raise awareness about social and love ties in Japan, which is about total hypocrisy.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

boycott love and himote is the answer. Depressing to choose to live in denial.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“Himote” perceive a gender bias in Japanese society — a bias against men. They reject the idea that guys must slave to accumulate capital and win women

Good on these 'Himote' for standing up for what they beleive in.....

200 people will attend to help ring in the holiday. The price of commiserating is 2,000 yen, but women get in free

The bloody hipocrits!!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If it has the potential to keep the suicide rate down and they can have support of other people that understand them and can relate to them then it's a good idea. Maybe if they do attend the event they will see their carbon copy of themself in other people and maybe wake up to themselves and then realize that they don't need to be such a loser anymore. Then again, that may be wishful thinking???

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As whitepocky pointed out, these people are hypocrits - they claim to reject the idea that guys must slave to accumulate capital and win women, but then charge men 2000 yen to attend the event, but allow women in free. Completely unprincipled.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japanese society is getting weirder by the month

If it were so, it's not the only society in this world.

If you go to countries like China, where people are much more flexible and open, you don't see any of this crap.

Let's see what China will be like in 50 years - and talking about 'crap', they do have plenty there as well. *** Each country has its fringe groups which may seem weird, but at least this group is not obscene, extreme, into violence or open hatred of those with different views.

Moderator: Readers, please keep the discussion focused on Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Believe me, humanoid female robots are just around the corner and it'll save the day for quite a few of these blokes.

even better still like Battle Star Galactica....a nice cylon like Sharon would be very popular with these himote...

These himote chaps must have some pretty well set up "Himote Pads" with top of the PC equipment and 65in LCD TV's ...seeing as they are blowing it on the ladies.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kinda like Japan boycotting domestic beluga caviar.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is another symptom of a brain damaged country. Sexual desire is a higher function that resides in the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe does not fully develop until the early 20's. Proper brain development requires 8-9 hours of sleep every night which young Japanese people just don't get.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There is an english word for these people EMO!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I agree with him! One should never go looking for strength from someone else! Find that in yourself first, and find it in your friends second! Only when two people are strong, can they both really appreciate each other and have a good relationship. The quickest way to end a relationship is to appear needy! Appearing nerdy has nothing to do with it!

“It’s about being satisfied with who we are before we go looking for partners”! Well said! I am currently in a relationship that has lasted 14 years.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think we've found another reason for the drop in population. Who in the hell would rather chat online than meet a real in the flesh (and preferrably little else)? Painfully shy? Apparently low in hormones too as the need to breed usually outweighs shyness. Maybe I'm crazy or just old school but these are some seriously anti-social geeks.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

above should read meet a real PERSON in the flesh.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

One more the generalizations about Japanese standards for love and marriage that some of the posters subscribe to make me think they are closet himote. My wife is Japanese and we've lived here and in the States, have been married for 10 years and have 2 kids. My wife was never interested in money or stability or any of the above. When we met we had chemistry and a general interest in living hard and fast and enjoying ourselves as much as possible. That head over heals attraction and five years of travelling and partying blossomed early on into love and we eventually settled down, got good jobs and had kids. It was a whirlwind and it was a hell of a lot of fun and I'm pretty sure she never once thought about wishing for me to be a salary man to buy her designer clothes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I like it. I'm betting their numbers will grow. It's not that they're anti-social, they're merely socializing in a different way. Living with someone or marrying and having children isn't for everyone, nor should it be. It's best to know that about yourself early on than to get half way into it, with children, and think, "Oops, I don't like this."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Relationships here are often like business tie ups. About 70% of the dates I've had here felt like job interviews. I felt I should have brought by CV along. And event the "cool" girls I know harbor these 'I will stay at home and be a beautiful Mom" dreams that read for the guy "you will slave away until you die to pay for everything for me while I hang with friends at cafes and buy cute stuff to stay in competition with the other stay at home beautiful moms."

KOWAI!!!

Thankfully I finally found someone who has a different outlook. But I can seriously see why these guys flee that world. Work, pay, work, pay, work, pay, die. Not an attractive future.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

no, they're anti-social to begin with. Finding another way to communicate just highlights their lack of training in becoming a normal human. Might as well make Densha-otoko their patron saint.

Having an anti-commercial holiday however can be quite social. No shopping or restaurants or karaoke, just home cooking parties and polite conversation. Having people together with similar interests would be a positive development.

But that's not what's conveyed by this article. It sounds almost suicidal in tone. Nothing to live for? Maybe I mis-read it...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

this group looks like it cud easily become a cult & when feeding off each others self made misery look for the suicide rates to go up & less people tp pay into Jpn corrupt/banrupt "pensions etc"

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Apart from the obvious mama's boys, 2ch hikikomori and the other variously socially anxious/inept, some of these men are probably just gay, but due to the vicious Japanese taboo over homosexuality can't/won't come out or haven't even realised it yet. Of all the Japanese men I know here only one is openly gay (a barber in Osaka), a figure that does not compare well to the statistics of homosexuality.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan is weird, these people are weird, blah blah blah blah blah... Every country has its unique cultures and people including the country YOU come from. THINK before you type.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think it's good they feel like they can hang together. Even though they are "outsiders" and "weird", etc. they need someplace to go and people to talk to like themselves. That's very important.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There's also another word for these people: Emo! (see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emo#Fashion_and_stereotype)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So... it's all about monetization, really. See, I would have believed this Aspergers' pretender, but then he turns around and wants to charge 2000 to attend this "event". Next year it's goinna be 2000 attendees and more money for him --bet he gets outed for having a --gasp-- serious relationship, but he prolly already has an excuse worked out for that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan is weird, these people are weird, blah blah blah blah blah... Every country has its unique cultures and people including the country YOU come from. THINK before you type.

yes that's true, but this is painfully weird, weirder than weird. Sad and sorry for a whole generation of kids written off.

This is so weird that...(complete this...)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am glad these freaks have formed their own group to make friends. Perhaps it has something to do with the collapse of Nova. There are no more English teachers to suck emotionally dry.

I must have taught a dozen of these losers.

I taught a 40 year old virgin engineer a couple of years back who still lived with his mom!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Some really interesting points for all to ponder, still hope to get some giri choco though.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hows about gettin' off O' the internet and getting a real life? That may get you some love....or at the very least, some giri chocolate....

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I taught a 40 year old virgin engineer a couple of years back who still lived with his mom!

Did he suck you dry as well? I thought Nova had rules about that sort of thing... ;)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

st2k...eventually, Train Main/Densha-otoko pulled through, and his fellow geeks applauded him mightily. I hope they are happily married with kids if wanted, and having a great life!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Romance is good for young and successful people. It is very sweet for them. In the reality, some people will be ended up with single for rest of the life. It is their destiny. Not everyone need to settle with family and kids. Depending on his or her health condition, economic circumstances, social interaction, tolearance of other and taste of the opposite sex. Instead of living with someone without chemistry, loneliness is preferable.

It is not suprsing that lonely people will want to establish their same interest group. They deserve to find the people in the same boat. It will make them comfortable and more socialable. It is like a senior citizens club or rehabilation centre.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Maybe if some of these guys would get out from behind their computer, shower, comb their hair, brush their teeth and go out and try to communicate with women they would have better luck. I have to say that most japanese men I have met are cowards when it comes to approaching women. Forget the cultural tabos. Some traditions are worth saving and others need to be broken in the name of progress,particularly when getting a date is the main focus :-)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just reintroduce the traditional "Omiai".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan is weird, these people are weird, blah blah blah blah blah... Every country has its unique cultures and people including the country YOU come from. THINK before you type.

You are so right... Thats a phenomenon which comes from the shyness and attitude of some members of the Japanese society. However, its effects like the "himote" culture is just a part of the modern Japanese society.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This isn't any weirder than goths or emo. Just a little bit stranger, perhaps. Less of a fashion sense. : )

THough I admit having a valentines day event for people supposedly turning their backs on love is a bit suspicious.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Maybe they should have a street party in Akihabara on Saturday. That might be fun. It could be called the un-love-in. Or maybe the soaplands will give discounts? Oh, wait, they are boycotting love, not sex....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

cool

0 ( +0 / -0 )

cool

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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