[From March Issue 2011]
The demand for “joshikai” is booming. These are women-only events. Joshikai members eat out, go shopping, travel, throw home parties and do much more. This new phenomenon is currently being widely reported on in magazines and on TV.
And more restaurants are expressing their interest by offering “joshikai sets” which include many vegetables dishes and desserts that women find pleasing. Any group of like-minded women can get together for a joshikai. But why is this kind of a women-only event gaining such popularity?
On one weeknight, a joshikai of eight women in their 30s was held at an Italian restaurant in Tokyo. They are like-minded colleagues who all work at the same company. The moment a pizza arrives at the table hot from the oven, they devour it. “We want to eat delicious food to our hearts’ content. With men present, it is hard to satisfy our appetite because we become self-conscious around them,” they explain.
SERIKAWA Nako, who was in charge of the dinner arrangements, says she was most careful in choosing the right restaurant. “Women attach importance not only to the taste of the food but also to the atmosphere of the place. When it is a women-only event, we also feel like getting dressed up. So, I tried to choose a place with an upmarket feel.”
Weekend joshikai are usually held at someone’s home. The women go shopping for ingredients, prepare the food and cook together. AKASHI Asuka, who hosted an event at her apartment, says “It’s fun to get together and cook. It brings back childhood memories of girls playing house.” The women discuss many things, including romance, fashion and gourmet meals.
According to the “Survey of Joshikai,” carried out by the Macromill Inc. research company in March 2010, about half of the working women aged 20~49 living in the Kanto region participate in at least one joshikai per month.
One participant says, “In these women-only situations, we can really be ourselves, sympathize with each other and be encouraged. I would say that men would never understand these kinds of feelings. To tell the truth, I have more fun at joshikai than when spending time with men. It is a very pleasant diversion.”
In January of this year, the Silky Style Company launched “jo4-kai.com,” a joshikai service information and reservation website. The director, YAMADA Naoko, says, “Many women felt empathy for the American movie ‘Sex and the City’ which described the friendships and lives of four women in their 30’s. I think the movie greatly influenced joshikai. They were reassured about their friends’ importance, about being able to share stories about their unhappy and hard days, and then have their friends help revitalize them for the next day.”
Text: MUKAI Natsuko