With maid cafes where pretty young girls that ooze submissiveness to their “masters”, and “shuccho health” (出張ヘルス, basically, dial-a-prostitute) and soap-lands (sensual bathing houses with soapy special service) to vending machines for porn, and specialty shops with used high school girl underwear; Japan, at least on the surface appears one of the most sexually proactive nations in the world. Japanese men are as perverted (if not more perverted) than those in other countries, and as for the ladies, on top of being naturally feminine (with petite sexy bodies, skin that doesn’t seem to change complexion from childhood, pretty faces and silky black hair), the women of Japan have no misconceptions about what style – clothes, perfume and make up – makes a man stop in his tracks, and rouse that tingle in his loins.
When interacting with others, sex and everything surrounding it is fair game for a topic of conversation in Japan and, it is certainly not frowned upon by religious groups or society at large as it is in the USA and other countries. When it comes to secreting sexual hormones and sexuality in general, almost nothing is taboo in Japan – until that is, the day one gets married, or so it seems. Indeed in stark sexual contrast, Japan may be suffering from a sexual drought, where being totally open about sex and being sexy in general, doesn’t seem to be converted into the ins-and-outs of baby making when it comes to married couples.
Shown in these statistics, a recent survey by Japan’s health ministry found that as many as one-third of all marriages in Japan are sexless. The problem is now so widespread that the government fears it is a major contributor to the dramatic plunge in Japan’s birthrate (now only 1.28 births per woman). This sexless phenomenon is not only found in those relationships that are plunging down the drain toward divorce, but to the contrary, more and more couples that consider themselves healthily married (and have no intention of separating), have not had sex with each other in the last month or more (the common definition of “sexless” in Japan), with many saying that they have not had sex together in the last 6 months to one year.
According to the most recent survey of 41 nations last October, the average Japanese has intercourse 45 (and according to Bayer Pharmaceuticals as low as 17) times a year, compared with the global average of 103. Japan is repeatedly at the bottom of the list. Last year it trailed Singapore, which was 28 shags a year higher!
The term “sexless”, was first used in Japan in the early 1990s, but now is instantly recognizable to the Japanese as a universally understood concept, and widely discussed in the media. There are books on the subject and thousands websites and heartbreaking blogs discussing sexless Japan, while letters on the subject fill agony columns on “dear doctor”-type sites.
One in five sexless couples say they view sex simply as a nuisance. A small number cite the lack of a private space, because children or elderly parents often sleep just the other side of a paper-thin door, leading many married couples to even sleep in separate rooms. Mitsui Home announced recently in an Asahi Newspaper article, that in 30% of the new houses they build, the couples are asking for 2 “master” bedrooms. This is a shocking statistic, which shows that sexless couples want to continue living their lives together – separately! “We are sort of room-mates rather than a married couple”, one 31-year-old man, who had not had sex with his wife for two years, told the Asahi Shinbun.
There are many other theories about why the Japanese become less inclined to raunchy evenings in the sack together, but likely it is a mixture of some of these:
- Stress of work/life in Japan (maybe the taihen cloud?)
- Lack of understanding, and usage of contraception, especially “the pill” (who wants to use condoms with their wife!?), making sex with your wife viable only when you want to have a baby
- Abundance of 不倫 (furin, or extra-marital) relationships
- More and more Japanese women choosing career over family
- A tendency among Japanese married couples to feel an aversion to sex with their spouse, not because they dislike one another, but rather because they feel that they have more of a sister-brother relationship; the sanctity of which would be destroyed with a repulsive incest-like feeling, by what westerners would consider normal conjugal relations
The last point is an interesting one, as in the past, it has been traditionally Japanese women who complained that they couldn’t see their hubby “as a member of the opposite sex.” But in the last few years, there’s been an exponential increase in men who can’t view their wives as sexual partners either. While it is true that many Japanese married couples seem to be sexless in nature, they key thing to remember is that this certainly does not mean that they lack the desire for sexual fulfillment. While marriage and children may bring on a sex drought in the home, Japanese people who want (and in the case of most men, need) sex do not simply abstain from sex because they cannot see the feminine qualities in their own wife, or the sexual attraction of their hard working husband.
Japanese men love their companies; they live for work, and many don’t even think it is a problem if they don’t have sex with their wives. They have pornography and the sex industry (soap lands, cabaret bars, and dial-a-girl services, and trips to Taiwan) to take care of their needs, but their wives have nowhere to go. They just suffer in silence.. or do they? The divorce rate in Japan has nearly doubled in the past 10 years, with more women blaming their sexually inactive, as opposed to sexually errant, husbands for break-ups. Though they may not be seeking sexual pleasure from their better halves, married Japanese women are seeking intimacy from other sources (many even claim to have a sex addiction), leading double lives – being the good mother, while at the same time seeking out “Leroy” the lover, who is always lurking, and ready to fulfill her every desire.
Japan is full of temptation, and it doesn’t matter whether you are a housewife or salary-man, there is plenty of raunchy action waiting out there – if that is what you desire. Furin sites to find a (extra marital) “sex friend” partner are just as rampant in Japan as in other countries, however they are much more widely used by women in Japan to solve their sexless quandaries. For the more conservative ladies, sites like mixi.jp – which are neutrally classed as “social networking” spaces – are abound with profiles (men and women) looking for partners to secretly spruce up their sexless, but otherwise happily married lives.
Many Japanese marriages may be sexless, but this is only a statistic about the state of sex within marriage itself. In fact, there may be a good reason for the sexless condition of marriages here – Are the Japanese getting enough of the good stuff outside their marriages to keep them happy? I certainly think so.
Japanese people will never be sexless as individuals; therefore Japan is not sexless, so don’t let mere statistics confuse the situation!
(If you are married in Japan, or married to a Japanese, let us know what you think of “Sexless Japan” by leaving a comment below!)