Virtual Romance Among The Herbivores Of Japan


One of the most fascinating conversations I had while in Kyoto was with our guide about the changing dating, marriage and sex habits of young Japanese men (and women).

  • According to the guide, a new breed of man called an “herbivore” has emerged. He has no interest in having a real girlfriend or real sex. The term was first coined by writer Maki Fukasawa in 2006.
  • Herbivore men stand in marked contrast to the “carnivore” or “beastly” man who our guide suggested was like a typical macho “bro” or frat boy i.e. overly loud and always talking about himself.
  • Herbivores are frequently “otaku” i.e. deeply immersed in their own fantasy worlds of manga, anime and computers and that includes having relationships with virtual girlfriends e.g. through smartphone apps as well as with Sex/Love Dolls.
  • They have little interest in dating 3D women (i.e. real women) who they see as being too difficult and demanding.
  • Some herbivore men are, however, married but keep their virtual girlfriends hidden from their wives. Some say they would hate to have to choose between the two.

But it’s not just young Japanese men who are into virtual girlfriends, older married men are buying sex dolls and falling in love with them – over their wives’ and kids’ objections.


  • The dolls have become more popular as they’ve upgraded to more realistic silicone material.
  • They start at $6,000 and are customizable with different heads and body parts.
  • Some men have multiple dolls who they take out for picnics and other social activities – generally in wheelchairs!
  • The future of sex dolls is bright as researchers develop next-generation sexbots who are able to talk, laugh and even simulate an orgasm.

Read on below for more information including govt. data and a link to a US-based site for luxury silicone sex dolls.

  • A survey by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in 2010 found 36% of Japanese males aged 16 to 19 had no interest in sex – a figure that had doubled in the space of two years.
  • More recent research by the Japanese government showed that about 30% of single women and 15% of single men aged between 20 and 29 admitted to having fallen in love with a meme or character in a game.
  • For more on potential cultural and economic causes and effects, this wikipedia article is helpful.
  • And it’s not just in Japan. Check out this US-based blog – They specialize in luxury sex dolls and you can do a live chat before you buy. When asked why they bought sex dolls, here’s a typical answer:
  • It seems that the entire dating/marriage concept has become sort of a death-trap for males. No matter how you try to play it, she will always hold all of the cards and will most likely use them at some point.  Dolls are a good sensible alternative. They meet my needs well enough for the arrangement to be sustainable.”

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