a Times Online article which foresees the rise of the "girlie man," another way of putting the "herbivore man," which you may have heard mention of elsewhere. These men are shy, quiet, would rather hang out with pals than go drinking, would rather be friends with a woman than be a player.
The earliest reports of "herbivore men" suggested that, as the Times put it, they were "a generation of neutered geeks" that resulted in the low birth and high suicide rates that japan currently suffers from. But the Times thinks that under the surface, these men are going to be a force for major change, particularly in the wake of the LDP's defeat and other calls for change. These men are less interested in mere status symbols and in being humiliated while climbing the workforce ladder; instead they treasure family and friends over shopping and travel, and want their work to be a part of their lives rather than the entirety of them.
If you're curious about the "girlie" tag, it's because of the fashions associated with the herbivores: men's cosmetics, skirts, and lacy tops, are all a part of the look, and concern over sweat and body odor is replacing the fear of how much liquor you can hold. Marketer Maki Fukasawa calls it "sexually neutral," and thinks that it relates to "the changing nature of Japanese marriage." (The number of unmarried 30-34-year-olds in Japan has increased significantly over the last few decades.)
Interesting changes all around, and of course the comparisons to western "metrosexuals" is inevitable. But it's a pretty big change from some of our usual Japanese stereotypes...
This also ties into our current Question of the Not-Day on the forums-- bishies vs manly men. What do you think? I personally wish American men spent a bit more time and money on being odorless, too.