Time was when Japanese men had a penchant for strong drinks and weak women. Time was, when men from many countries had this penchant. In Japan there was a time when companies would hire a “salaryman” for life and he would be guaranteed a white collar job and a middle class lifestyle to support his wife and child. Then came the Women’s Movement and economic downturns of various types and suddenly the salaryman is no more. Now Japanese businesses are deeply concerned about the new generation of men who are kinder and gentler loners. Some speculate the trend might come to America.
This new group of men, in touch with their softer side aren’t buying sports cars and Rolex watches. They aren’t taking women out on expensive dates to fancy restaurants. They aren’t into luxury travel or sports and therefore not buying fashionable clothes for outings. Most of all they are not getting married and having children. Instead they tend to stay at home, indulge in gardening and spiritual pursuits, and play video games. All of which means they are a drag on the Japanese economy.
The term “grass-eating male” (as opposed to the carnivorous type), has emerged to describe this new, sensitive Japanese man. Not always in a good way. With few Japanese children born out of wedlock, the unmarried men leave a vacuum in the economy where primary-colored, plastic playthings once ruled. Even among those who date, the evening is more likely to be a casual affair than dinner and a movie.
But not everyone is convinced that grass-eaters are killing off business. Some believe there is more to life than luxury goods and the macho, “Mad Men” world of lecherous behavior. There is photography, poetry, literature and art, all with their own business opportunities. Besides, no one said, women couldn’t be the hunters, gatherers and pursuers of men. And though it might be like pulling teeth, couldn’t women be persuaded to shop for luxury goods?