4 June 2010
Six men intensely arrange flowers in their class at Ikebana Sesshu-ryu on a mid-March weekday evening. Five of the men, in their 20s to 40s, are in business attire for the class, which started a year ago.
Kotaro Matsukawa, 30, who works at an insurance company, attends the class three times a month on his way home from work. "Flowers calm me down--at the office, I'm always on the phone or at my computer."
Recently, more and more men are attending cultural classes typically associated with women. According to Gishio Horiuchi, 48, lecturer at Koomon--a Nihonbashi, Tokyo, club that offers tea ceremony lessons, including introductory classes for men--about five dozen men are enrolled in the class, a 20 percent rise over the past two years. Horiuchi said the majority of them are white-collar workers.
Horiuchi said, "I think there are a lot more men now who want to develop their senses, rather than cling to economic values, in light of the current economy."
Another appealing aspect of these classes is their approachability.
Among the women in a ballet class in the basement of an office building near JR Akihabara Station, a number of men wearing tights and black ballet shoes pose clumsily as they try to raise their legs high into the air.
Men account for more than half of the 33 students at Ballesonance Tokyo Ballet Studio, which opened last June.
The school has a supply of large ballet slippers, as well as deodorant for the men, to make it a more pleasant atmosphere for the women in the class.
Ballet is growing in popularity among men, prompting the school to add another class in Meguro Ward, starting April 2.
Hospital worker Tatsuya Yamamoto, 30, said: "It's refreshing to move my body to beautiful melodies; it's good for working off my stress from work."