While Japanese society and the media continue to exhort — nay plead — with women to find marriage partners, 60 percent of eligible women say they cannot feel relaxed enough to get interested in renai (love relationships), according to a Yomeishu survey picked up by cocolini jp.
As sad as it sounds, the nation’s women appear to have joined the ranks of men as overworked employees, too drained from the daily grind. Specifically, women appear to be fatigued by the alternative — shokubano ningenkankei (workplace relationships) — and avoid going out on random dates, as they have now become synonymous with stress.
And when women can muster the energy to go out, 1 in 4 have confessed to having fallen asleep during a date. The overall feeling among these women is that the whole renai thing is overrated, strenuous and, ultimately, unsatisfying. Why waste time dating strangers when you can watch “Terrace House” in your pajamas or use a “love app” to hear the velvety voices of actors Takumi Saito or Sota Fukushi telling you to relax after a hard day’s work?
Have Japanese women given up on love? A cautious “yes, sort of” seems to be the answer. While that may indeed be the case, they have not given up on marriage. Although few women have the time or inclination for the rollercoaster ride of love relationships, a whopping 80 percent told cocoloni.jp they wanted to find a husband and settle down. They’re seeking antei (stability), preceded by a sumptuous wedding that would wow multitudes on Instagram.
Lovely Media, another online dating site, says that a growing number of women are reluctant to “waste time” on “dating that leads nowhere.” These women are eyeing childbirth — the longer they play the field, the higher the risks when it comes to pregnancy. This is why an increasing number of women are taking the konkatsu (matchmaking) route, pooling their resources into what they see as a serious life project.
Interestingly, the numbers are reversed when it comes to men. Sixty percent of those surveyed say they are not interested in marriage but close to 80 percent claim to want girlfriends. These men view marriage warily, aware that tying the knot will involve complications and baggage they aren’t ready to take on. Marriage would also cramp their style and eat into precious disposable income.
It seems, therefore, that the concepts of love and marriage have become two separate entities in the minds of young men and women in Japan. The bubble era of the late 1980s saw the rise of a phenomenon known as renaishijyōshugi (the principle of “only love matters”). Author Haruki Murakami captured this in his best-selling novel “Norwegian Wood,” calling on Japanese youths to throw themselves into love, come hell or high water. Back in those days, 60-70 percent of young people in their 20s were in relationships, according to data compiled by the National Population Institute. These days, people in their 20s with partners are in the minority.
It’s arguably best to change workplace attitudes before women nationwide throw themselves into matchmaking. Shorter working hours, guaranteed maternity and paternity leaves, and a less forbidding atmosphere will go a long way in getting women to think about love.
Until then, however, the combination of pajamas and a couch remains irresistible.