Posts Tagged ‘herbivorous men’

Life is sweet … for some men

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Though Japanese men get to hog the chocolates on Valentine’s Day, the rest of the year, sweets, cakes and other confectionary are traditionally the domain of the fairer sex. Or so they say. The truth is, loads of Japanese guys have a sweet tooth. As the younger generation of men discard outdated mores of masculinity, many are now unashamed to scoff down a strawberry parfait in public.

So it’s no surprise that sweet-toothed men are now getting together to discuss their love of sugary treats. On June 10, for example, men gathered in a café in Ebisu to attend the Amatou Danshi (sweet-toothed men’s) Café. The aim of this event was for men to discuss the merits of a range of sweet treats, which included Earl Grey jelly and rich chocolate confections. Organized by Amadan (甘男, the kanji literally means sweet man but is a shortening of the phrase Amatou Danshi) website, this event was the latest to bring together men with a secret passion for pastries. Every three or four months Amadan members get together to indulge their vice, bringing along their own sweets and cakes to compare and contrast with other men.

Amadan was founded in 2008 as a forum and information portal for like-minded males. According to Shibuya Keizai Shimbun, Tooru Hikino, the website’s founder, said that he wanted to create a space where could share their passion for sweets. The website includes information on new products, special features, including interviews with up-market pastry chefs and a calendar allowing members to keep abreast of confectionary-related events. Users can pass on tips and recommendations via Twitter.

So who are these amadan men? We’re guessing that many members might fall into the soshoku danshi (herbivore men) demographic of young males who reject traditional masculine values by taking a great deal of care with grooming and are not too fussed about aggressively pursuing women. A passion for cooking and sweets, fits right in with this lifestyle choice.

Confectionary companies could well start targeting this new market more aggressively; Morinaga Chocolate has already sponsored a play called Amadan about a cute bunch of boys who are fighting to keep their high school dessert club alive (see video above). There’s marketing opportunities for cafes and hotels there too: Last year Nagoya Tokyuu Hotel held an amadan gentlemen’s day where men were able to order a salad and dessert buffet on top of the standard lunch for just ¥500 extra.

Are you an amadan man? Or do you think that men ought to stick to chugging beer and devouring meat?

 

Businessmen come out smelling like roses

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

The Otoko Kaoru Fragrance Shirt emits a subtle scent of menthol and roses

Some Japanese men will be smelling of roses just in time for Valentine’s day. The Otoko Kaoru (good-smelling man) Fragrant Shirt was released for sale in Japan just last month and is attracting a lot of attention from retailers who have snapped up the first run of these sweetly smelling garments. A tie-in with Otoko Kaoru chewing gum, the collar of the shirt releases the same rose and menthol fragrance as the gum when rubbed against the skin.

Rose-scented micro-capsules are embedded in the shirt’s collar and if they’re rubbed or put under pressure they explode, releasing a liquid that evaporates into the air around. The scent is designed to be subtle rather than overpowering and can only be smelled when the shirt is worn. It will also gradually lose its potency over time and manufacturer’s claim its good for around 10 washes, after which the smell fades completely.

Part of the buzz around this product is down to the original Otoko Kaoru gum made by Kracie. The rose and menthol fragrance of the gum was said to be absorbed through the mouth and digestive tract after which your skin allegedly secretes the same delectable scent. Yum!  Launched back in 2006, the limited-edition gum proved so popular that it sold out and had to be slowly re-released region by region to prevent shortages. Kracie stopped producing the gum in August 2010 and has since been working with textile manufacturer Shikibo to produce the shirt. If all goes well they’re planning to produce a polo shirt and pajamas with the same properties.

The range of shirts, which cost around ¥3,000, could well prove a hit. Deodorizing shirts and suits have been popular in the last decade with middle-aged businessmen worried about subjecting others to their bad BO. We’re also thinking that the menthol rose smell will appeal to the new breed of herbivorous men who take personal grooming and hygene extremely seriously.

A Valentine’s day out with the girls

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Kichiri's Valentine set meal claims to have beauty and health boosting properties

Japanese women are used to taking the initiative on Valentine’s Day. In fact, it’s traditional for ladies in Japan to buy a nice box of chocolates for their objects of affection. Pay-back comes on White Day, when it’s the men’s turn to hand out the chocolates. Every year in Japan, vendors roll out new products and services to cash in on the dual rites of romance (as well as the obligatory giri choco for the office set).

Coincidentally, a recent survey carried out by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare showed  evidence of an alarming trend that could affect Valentine Day’s to come. If such surveys are to be trusted, less and less Japanese are having sex. The number of married couples doing it are down and more than a third of men between the ages of 16 to 19 just aren’t interested.

Can we link lower libidos with chocolate-buying patterns? No. But we couldn’t help but notice another timely trend in the mix: Valentine’s joshikai (women’s group) packages.

Restaurant chain Kichiri is offering a jyoshikai Valentine’s set meal for ¥4,000 from Jan. 28 to Feb. 14. Perhaps to prove that ladies needn’t give up on the idea of future dates completely, the meal includes health- and beauty-boosting ingredients such as avocado and broccoli. The Valentine’s jyoshikai offered by Vega in Kobe, in contrast, comprises of a gut busting five-course meal to be rounded off with a stupendous chocolate pastry.

Other businesses offering Jyoshi Kai Valentine’s Day set meals include: Hotel Osaka Bay Tower, Hotel New Hankyu, Osaka and Hotel Monterey, Osaka. Our favorite, though, has to be the Outback Steakhouse Valentine’s joshikai campaign: The lucky ladies who win the online lottery will get to tuck into a premium steak, smothered in garlic cream sauce, for just ¥2,500. If a smooch with the man of your dreams is off the menu, then why not?

Do Valentine joshikai reflect a tectonic shift in Japanese society … or are they just another way to a milk a marketing buzzword? For now, we’re leaning toward the latter. But with more herbivorous men seeping into the gene pool, you never know.

Do you think joshikai will become part of Valentine’s Day traditions? Sound off below.

Japan’s depilation revolution: Smooth skin is in for men

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

According to the makers of Mudage Jolie (Unwanted Hair Jolie), too much male body hair is a serious turn off. The words “NG (no good)” and “not sexy” are stamped across an image of a man sporting a bushy chest rug. While the Mudage Jolie is designed to thin over abundant body hair, some companies like Ya-Man are suggesting men get rid of body hair altogether. Their recent advertising campaign for a product called No!No! for MEN features three hairless Western men frolicking happily about, until a hairy gorilla gatecrashes the party.

With so many hair-removal products on the market, are we really to believe that Japanese men are now so averse to body hair that they’ll shave their chests, legs and armpits? Being the curious type, I asked a friend – we’ll call her Midori – who works at a laser hair removal clinic for the inside scoop. “Yes, I have male customers at my clinic,” Midori said. “There are a lot more than there were five years ago. The treatments they get are all the same as ladies get – hair removal from legs, arms, chest, back, bottom, tummy, face, etc.”

Midori said the reasons vary: Some clients are transgender and some just don’t want to be bothered shaving their beards every morning. “The most common (treatment) is beard removal or reduction,” she said. Although beards or designer stubble can be seen on the streets and even occasionally on TV, bearded men are often perceived negatively in Japanese society. Outside of hipster circles, there’s a general feeling that men who sport beards or 5 o’clock shadows are too lazy to shave and might be sloppy in other areas of their lives.

The municipal government of Isesaki in Gunma Prefecture even went so far this year as putting a ban on beards for all male employees after they received complaints from citizens who said they found bearded men “unpleasant.” While a first for local government, this is not an isolated case: The Yomiuri Giants insist on clean shaven players and Seven-Eleven Japan Co refuse to hire bearded men.

Whether it be professional or aesthetic decision, smooth-skinned, hairless men are on the rise. So what’s your take on hair-free men: turn on or a turn off?

Bento boys rock the lunch box

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Bento boxes for men now stack vertically

Bento boxes for men now stack vertically

Nestlé have recently launched a cute new site called “Bento Danshi Park” (Lunch Box Boys’ Park) that allows visitors to take a peek inside the carefully prepared lunch boxes of the nation’s salarymen. Feeding off the bento danshi trend that exploded last year, the site allows male users to upload photos of their packed lunches, which are then rated by other users.

The trend began with a string of media reports that stated modern men were more likely to bring a packed lunch to work for economic and health reasons. Proving that this wasn’t all hot air, BP Net reported that Tokyu Hands saw a significant rise sales of bento boxes specifically designed for men and that publishing companies also done well with recipe books for simple bento lunches. For example, last spring the publication of “Bokuben” (My Lunch Box) by Matsuki Kamizawa (Goma Books), a how-to book aimed at male readers, proved to be a big hit.

A homemade bento, prepared with the right ingredients, can cost as little as ¥200, and some male workers have managed to slash their daily budgets even further by joining the new tribe of “suitou danshi” – men who take drinks to work in a thermos.

Many men, however, have reportedly been drawn to making bento simply out of a desire to learn how to cook. Attractive and healthy bento were matched with herbivorous men (yet another media catchphrase used to describe Japan’s version of the metrosexual) and Nestlé’s site is clearly aimed at that niche market. And what’s the link between bento and Nestlé, you might rightly ask? Turns out that it’s all to promote more soshokukei danshi (herbivorous men) eating airy Aero chocoloate.

At the time of writing, however, the top-ranked box lunch on Bento Danshi Park was a simple Chinese-style fried rice, accompanied by a piece of fried chicken, which perhaps indicates the site is frequented by guys who rate speed and economy over acquiring complicated culinary skills. Maybe the campaign isn’t exactly hitting the herbivore target after all.

One of the coolest innovations to accompany the trend is the rise of the vertically stacking lunch box, which is specifically designed to fit into briefcases. The theory being that flat-bottomed lunch boxes will just get upended if they’re put in alongside documents. This one from Metaphys is particularly cool and shows that the simplest bento can still be eaten with style.

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