A Label For Everyone: The Many Types Of Women In Japan

A Label For Everyone: The Many Types Of Women In Japan

If you’ve lived in Japan for a while now you may have overheard people saying things like: “She’s sure an age-man, her husband got promoted right after they got married,” or “That girl is so nikushoku-joshi, she doesn’t care if the guy she has a crush on has a girlfriend or not. She just goes for him,”—or even, “I was a bari-kyari until I got pregnant. Now, I’m a yuru-kyari and earn less than before, but I’m glad I made that decision because everyone in my family is happy!

The list is endless and these are all words and phrases that categorize and describe types of women in Japanese culture. You’ve probably noticed that Japanese women (and men) like to and tend to categorize others—and themselves—based on their personality, actions, and behaviors, as well as how they’d chosen to live their lives.

But why so many labels do exist in Japan?

This tendency probably has a lot to do with the importance of wa (和, group harmony) in the Japanese society—how one should always belong in and conform to a group, and be both dependent on and responsible to other members of that group. This, I believe, is why there are so many categories/groups out there for Japanese women—and why during a joshi-kai (女子会, women’s get-together) and other similar occasions, you’ll hear remarks such as the ones above made over and over again.

Without further ado, let me introduce some common terms and phrases that are often used to depict a certain type of Japanese woman. Some of them have quite a history, but are still commonly heard in daily life; others are buzzwords that have popped on social media and/or appeared in female fashion magazines these last years.

‘Age-man’ & ‘Sage-man’

Motivating or dragging down your partner? …continue reading