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Susie Wild is a poet, writer, journalist, critic, lecturer, festival organiser and editor based in Cardiff. Her debut poetry collection 'Better Houses' is out now through Parthian Books. 'The Art of Contraception' was her first book. It was long-listed for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize 2011 and won 'Fiction Book of the Year' in the Welsh Icons Awards 2010. Her Kindle novella 'Arrivals' was released globally through Parthian Books in May 2011. She edited the illustrated short story anthology 'Rarebit' for Parthian's 21st birthday, released December 2013. Illustrated by John Abell. She is Publishing Editor at one of Wales' Leading Indie Publishers, Parthian Books. @Soozerama

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Japan leads the way in sexless love

Are a new generation of Japanese men really losing interest in sex? And if so, what's behind the malaise?
Tagged in the domestic media over the past few years as hikikomori (socially withdrawn boys), soshoku danshi (grass-eating/herbivore men, uninterested in meat, fleshly sex and physical or workplace competition), or just generally feckless, Japan's Y-chromosomed youth today elicit shrugs of "why?", followed by heaving sighs of disappointment from their postwar elders and members of the opposite sex. With the country's economy stagnant at best, its geopolitical foothold rapidly slipping into the crevice between China and the United States, and its northeast coastline still struggling with the aftermath of disaster and an ongoing nuclear crisis, the reaction to a failure of Japan's men to take the reins, even symbolically, has evolved from whispers of curiosity to charges of incompetence.


Why the generational malaise and indifference to sex? Theories abound. The most provocative to me, a Japanese-American and longtime Tokyo resident, is that Japanese women have become stronger socially and economically at the very same time that Japanese men have become more mole-ish and fully absorbed in virtual worlds, satiated by the very technological wizardry their forebears foisted upon them, and evenpreferring it to reality. "I don't like real women," one bloke superciliously sniffed on Japan's 2channel, the world's largest and most active internet bulletin board site. "They're too picky nowadays. I'd much rather have a virtual girlfriend."
Virtual girlfriends became a sensation last summer, when Japanese game-maker Konami released its second-generation of its popular Love Plus, called, aptly, Love Plus +, for the Nintendo DS gaming system. Konami skillfully arranged for an otherwise deadbeat beach resort town called Atami to host a Love Plus + holiday weekend. Players were invited to tote their virtual girlfriends, via the gaming console, to the actual resort town to cavort for a weekend in romantic bliss. The promotion wasabsurdly successful, with local resort operators reporting that it was their best weekend in decades.


And, from the Wall Street Journal:

On Vacation With a Virtual Girlfriend 8/31/2010 6:00:00 PM

In Love Plus, a Japanese dating simulation game, players experience young romance with a virtual girlfriend. Some have even taken their beloved avatars to an island resort -- a real island resort. WSJ's Akiko Fujita takes a tour of Atami.


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