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Young Russian girls

In my previous column in November, I talked about the global spread of so-called soshoku-kei (literally translated as male herbivores), which is found in environments where Japanese anime plays a heavy role in forming personalities among young people of both genders.
That column triggered greater feedback than usual, and I appreciate our readers’ interest in the subject. In this column, I’d like to discuss how these soshoku-kei boys–and girls–interact with each other.
Last month, I visited Moscow for the first time in a year to attend J-Fest, an event showcasing the latest Japanese culture. I’ve participated in the event as a producer since J-Fest was launched two years ago. Working as a lecturer and emcee, I became friends with many young Muscovites, and they form a large portion of my Twitter followers.
One of them, a 27-year-old male graduate student who is a big fan of Morning Musume and other Japanese idol groups, introduced me to two of his young Russian girls friends, aged 16 and 20. He had taught himself to speak proficient Japanese and is a good example of the saying: “Suki koso mono no jozu nare” (You’ll be good at what you like.)
The two young Russian girls work part-time at a maid cafe, which opened two months ago in Moscow. A maid cafe in Moscow!? It was shocking to me even though I’ve reported on such places in China and other Asian countries. Although I would have loved to visit the Russian counterpart, I was unable to as it was only open during the weekends and I had to attend J-Fest.
The three Russians said they mainly communicated via the Internet. What interested me most was that they said their ideal partner would be Japanese. In everyday life, they rarely interact with Japanese, so young people in Russia chat online with each other about Japan and Japanese people in the same way they talk about Japanese anime and idols.
When talking with young people from around the world, I’m often bewildered by their glamorization of not only Japan, but also Japanese people. If even I–with my many opportunities to interact with these “Japan admirers”–am overwhelmed by the trend, then Japanese people who have never heard about it before are even more shocked. I’m often asked to talk about the question: “Are Japanese people popular overseas?” when I appear on Japanese TV or radio.
“If I can go to Japan, I’d like to gaze at men walking by on the street at a cafe in [Tokyo's] Harajuku for a whole day,” a Croatian female college student told me.
When I asked another female college student I met in Mexico if she was interested in going out with a Japanese boy, she replied, “Not worth asking. [Of course!]”
At J-Fest, I met a Russian girl who is in a long-distance relationship with a Japanese man in Hokkaido.
I’ve written some books and columns to raise awareness over the introspective mindset of Japanese people today. The number of Japanese who are eager to study or work abroad has decreased.
On the other hand, young Russian girls overseas are exploring the appeal of Japanese anime and fashion via the Internet and talking online about Japanese people with the same admiration they give anime characters.
It’s a one-sided love toward Japanese people. People in my generation who grew up adoring foreign cultures from countries such as the United States, are at first, bewildered by this phenomenon. But looking back on our own memories, adoration of other countries can develop anywhere in the world.


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