Japan’s male virgins…A quarter of over-30s have never known a woman
Danielle Demetriou in Tokyo
Middle-aged male virgins have become so prevalent in Japan that a specific term – “yaramiso”- has slipped into popular usage to refer to them. As many as one in four unmarried Japanese men aged 30 and over were virgins, according to the latest statistics compiled in 2010 by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.
Now a growing number of tailor-made activities have sprung up to cater for the sexually uninitiated.
Virgin Academia, set up by the non-profit organisation White Hands, offers lectures focusing on how to establish healthy relationships, as well as activities such as nude life drawing classes.
Among the “virgin” students at a recent art class was Takashi Sakai (41), a heterosexual male who with his respectable job and charming smile appeared to be a far cry from the stereotypes of social misfits.
“I’ve never had a girlfriend,” he told AFP. “It’s never happened. It’s not like I’m not interested. I admire women. But I just cannot get on the right track.”
Sakai is clearly not alone. As many as one in four unmarried Japanese men aged 30 and above were virgins, according to the latest statistics compiled in 2010 by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.
The issue of men not having sex is the tip of the demographic iceberg in Japan, home to a population that is famously shrinking and ageing at a rapid rate due to a decline in marriage and birth rates.
At first sight, the lack of sexual activity among a growing number of male Japanese may appear at odds with a society saturated with sexual images, from television and manga comics to city billboards.
However, a string of deep-seated social issues appear to have fuelled the rise of the male virgin in recent decades, according to experts.
A shift in traditional family structures, the rise in single person households and the loss of the “salaryman” security enjoyed by older generations of male workers have all left their mark on the self-esteem of the Japanese male.
The rise of virginity rates can also be tied to Japan’s protracted economic slowdown as a global powerhouse, resulting in the financial emasculation of many men struggling to hold down secure, full-time jobs, according to Yoko Itamoto, a matchmaking expert.
“Many men seem to have lost confidence as they’ve lost their economic muscle,” she said. “In the past two decades, the situation for Japanese men has been very tough and competitive.”
For Sakai, the rise of organisations such as Virgin Academia that cater specifically for Japanese men who are not having sex is clearly welcome insofar as it makes him realise he is not alone.
Describing his pleasure at being able to take part in life classes where he can sketch naked women in order to gain a better understanding of the female body, he said: “The first time I did this, in autumn last year, oh . . . I was so amazed. Their bodies are incredibly beautiful.”
He added: “There is no need to be so pessimistic. After all, being a virgin isn’t fatal.” – The Telegraph.