The butt is getting more attention too, they claim.
While Japanese women are generally meticulous in regards to their hairstyling and makeup, for many, their grooming rituals don’t extend to trimming their pubic hair, despite some efforts to promote such activity. However, certain experts say there’s growing potential on the other side of the gender line, due to an increase they’ve observed in the number of men wanting to reduce their amount of “under hair,” as Japan calls body hair that grows on and around the groin.
This month, electronics manufacturer Panasonic rolled out its Body Trimmer ER-GK60, pictured above. While it isn’t the first male-targeted body hair removal device the company has brought to market, it’s the first to specifically mention its pubic hair applications, unlike previous products that focused only on other parts of the body, such as the arms and legs. The initial production batch of 10,000 units sold out almost immediately, with retailers swiftly requesting another 10,000 to help meet customer demand.
A 2016 Internet survey, which garnered 3,000 responses, showed that 35 percent of men under the age of 30 engage in under hair grooming, and even 15 percent of those in their 50s do so too. Based on the data, a Panasonic representative estimates that there are some eight million men in Japan who could use an under hair management device.
Panasonic also trumpets the ability of the Body Trimmer ER-GK60, which retails for about 9,000 yen (US$81), to trim hair around the anus. The illustrations in the diagram above boast how the Body Trimmer (shown at the bottom left) can fit into narrower gaps than a standard razor (shown at the bottom right).
Yo Harada, a researcher with the organization Hakuhodo Brand Design, says that a shift towards a less rigid image of masculinity in Japanese society over the past 20 years is a contributing factor to the grooming trend. He also notes that whereas body hair removal tips were primarily found in print magazines for female readers, men now have easy, anonymous access to such information through social media and other online sources.
Among Japanese men who do trim their under hair, many cite aesthetic or hygiene-related reasons, including the belief that less body hair will reduce sweating and body odor. And while this may seem like a thoroughly contemporary trend, male body hair removal was also in vogue during Japan’s historical Edo period. One modern-day under hair removal fan in Fukuoka even has a traditional reason for going to a laser hair removal clinic to remove hair from around his anus: he carries a portable shrine in his local festival every year, and doesn’t want hair poking out from behind the loincloth he wears during the event.