Japanese Men Give New Meaning to “Pillow Talk”
August 30, 2009 | by Julie Eagle Cardo

A new video game subculture has been flourishing in Japan: men who are so obsessed with pubescent, female, Anime figures they form “relationships” with body pillows covered with the girl’s image.


In this world known as Moe, the rising popularity of so-called “2-D Lovers” has spawned its own thriving industry among some men.

If a guy can’t “get the girl” for real, virtual world fanatics figure, he gets a girl pillow. Within Japan’s widespread otaku culture – the obsessive fan base of anime, manga and video games – more is what the Moe men want.

The female characters and the Moe men who love them — some more innocently than others — are 10 to 12 years old.


However, the ornate costumes that create flashes of bright color on video screens often look nothing like the “get-ups” on the pillow covers. These child-women might be sporting strategically placed, but mockery-of-modesty patches. For bolder clients, the 2-D Lolitas are wearing nothing at all.


Nisan (pictured above) is a balding, flacid, 37-year-old, never-married video gamer. He describes his 3-year relationship with “Nemu” – whom he’s driven hundreds of miles on trips to visit Kyoto, Osaka and Nara — as blissful but chaste.

He even prides himself on taking special care not to touch her private areas when he tucks her into bed at night.

“I’ve experienced so many amazing things with her,” he gushes. “She has really changed my life.”

Toru Taima, also never married, makes no claims of innocence. He sells X-rated body-pillow covers at gaming conventions – and his eyes light up like a LED screen when he readily concedes he engages in sex with some of the 150 pillow cover characters he owns.

“I am not doing anything to harm anybody,” he insists. “To me these are works of art. They’re cute girls that live in my imagination.”

Whatever their intentions, 2-D lovers flock from all over Japan to Tokyo’s Akihabara district every day to scour specialty shops and attend fan events in search of new character girlfriends to add to their collections.

Cultural observers say the rise of 2-D love can be pinned in part on the difficulty many young Japanese of modest means have in navigating modern romance. More than a quarter of men and women between the ages of 30 and 34 are virgins; 50 percent of men and women in Japan do not have friends of the opposite sex, a government survey reports.

Perhaps there’s a screenplay in this for Judd Apatow, the American writer-director famous for his spot-on depictions of delayed adolescence in “The 40-year-old Virgin” and “Knocked Up.” But to hear Toru Honda tell it, moe subculture is more like “Revenge of the Nerds … Gone Creepy.”

Honda, 40, a college dropout who worked a succession of jobs at video-game companies, began imploring gamers online to “stand with pride against good-looking men and women.”

His message — that Japan’s economic bubble of the 1980s had killed the true value of romance, turning it into an elitist looks- and money-based commodity – caught on.

And so a subculture was born over the last half-decade or so.  Japan’s lonely heart gaming fanatics can now get their “piece” of action, but without fear of complication or rejection.


Julie Eagle Cardo

Julie Eagle Cardo

Julie Eagle Cardo

Latest posts by Julie Eagle Cardo (see all)

  • Ronery! Oh so ronery!

    Don't let 4chan find this o.o

  • It look like another one of those “Japanese comedy/game show taken as reality by foreigners”.


  • I'm going to condense my almost infinite confusion as to how grown men can be so insecure, so detached from reality, that they'd rather have a one-way relationship with a PILLOW CASE, than a human being into two words: Fucking idiots.

    • You ever actually try to talk to a Japanese woman? At least pillows don't require Prada.

    • My wife is Japanese and I'm Caucasian she is the best!!!!! and no I'm not super rich either!!! she tells me that this is very common among japanese men and other asian men who can't draw attraction from women because they are so sexists and shy. These men just don't want to execpt the fact that japanese women and asian women in general are gaining power and will not be treated like property by the men in their society. She tells me that asian men in general just refuse to give any equality to asian women and she will not tolerate that crap…and I don't blame her one bit.
      Even here in America asian american men aren't that respectful to asian american women, and thats just very sad that these men just can't except these women because they want respect…no wonder why ASIAN girls always go for CAUCASIN guys and they love us white men so much.

      • haha. If you want to say Japanese, go ahead. Lets be real though. Are those "asian men" in america "asian american" or are they immigrants to america? do they have asian women?
        Yes, let us all love the C A U C A S I A N males. They do the best for the planet don't they? Obviously if any group of people have been respectful to anyone, it has been the white man group. As history points out time and time again.

  • @pacat

    You would rather see these people go out and rape girls?

  • They're just a bunch of 80-thread-count ho's, if you ask me.

  • For some reason I find that this is happening because they are beyond feeling lonely.

  • @Pacat: I'd say Japanese, not Asian. P.S. that "anon" above wasn't me.

    @anon: uncalled for

    • Point taken.Still too freakie and sad for me.As far as these men being able to rape a girl;Do you really think they could funtion with a real female of any age. They are too far into fantisy land to be able to function on much of any social level

      • Before someone jumps all over me for spelling which I truely suck at, I do know how fantasy is spelled.lol the same with function. peace

  • The fact that their reciprocals for "love" are pillows is already disturbing enough, why are the characters purportedly (well some of them) 10-12 years old? O_O That's just wrong.

    @ Anon who said one would rather see them go out and rape girls: No one in their right mind would want something like that to occur however that doesn't justify grown men channeling their desires to an item of the bedroom which is meant to sleep on without devastating its purpose with lewd intentions and a pillow has no implications of life whatsoever.

    Encouraging such behavior is also saying that detaching oneself from reality is permissible and such delusions are just wrong. Rather than finding companionship with a pillow they should be working on their people skills in order to improve what they may lack in friendship, companionship, etc.

  • 10 to 12 years old? Another classical example of researching failure.

    More like 8 to 20 years old.

  • This is really old news (I've known about body pillows for something like four years, now), and typically those who actually own such things do not use them as girl substitutes. In Japan it's usually considered on par with, say, a poster.

    It's not really quite so weird when you consider Japan's Idol Worship media and culture.

  • wish people didnt confuse us OTHER asians with japanese…
    whenever anime dolls are mentioned, my friends always look at me…
    going,,, hey, arent you asian, you should know about that…
    im like, youre probably thinking of japanese people…
    im like, im not japanese, and im no where near how japanese think….

    • that's not to say that all japanese think that way either…
      would you look over at a japanese friend if you saw an anime pillow?

      you probably would.

  • Japanese, my god. Not surprised >___>

  • LOL, the Rei pillow!

  • Ah the pressures of japanese culture have finally begun to take their toll on the society.

    *please don't take that seriously .__.

  • Great, now I know what my thirty year old brother wants for christmas besides videogames.

  • Those anime girls…at least the ones you show in pictures, are NOT 10-12 years old! Stop making these men seem like pedophiles who would go out and do awful things otherwise! Those characters are anywhere from 15-17. Even though that sounds bad still, these are anime characters. Not real people.

  • so these imaginery girls are like 10-12 years old, and nobody sees a problem with that??

  • ok, i didn't read the comment above >_<

    but still, hasn't japan said all homosexual relationships are strictly illegal, yet this sort of creepy rubbish is perfectly fine?

  • is it wrong that I recognize quite a few of the characters in that room?

  • DontDoItYouWierdo

    what the hell. ?
    obssesions are getting out of control.

  • Look at the anime girl in the first pic with the green hair, and then look at the one with her breasts out in the second picture- they look they're horrified! If you're going to have a fake girlfriend on a pillowcase, wouldn't you want her to at least look like she likes you? lol.

  • I agree Beans… LOL

    How about just buying Happy Face pillow cases?

    Seriously… I’ve dated Japanese women. About 6.

    It’s a mind field of mind games and they are ALL jealous all the time and no matter what you do.

    One dumped me because her friend who wanted me said I was cheating on her, then once my girlfriend dumps me the other looses interest.

    And Japanese women never tell you their true feelings.

    It’s all a mascarade. You have to mind read them.

    They say yes all the time and smile but they don’t follow through.

    Even on dates that they suggested.

    Japanese women are real enigma.

    AND dating in Japan is really really expensive and Japanese women want gifts all the time and they want a guy with a high paying job.

    (Then they have lovers because their career husband is always at the office)

    So it’s not these guys fault !!!

    A pillow is all they can afford and no mind games.

  • Ya the one with the green hair is scary.

    They all are with the big eyes.

    They look like aliens.

  • I don't blame these guys, dating and sex sucks. All girls want is sex, no cuddling, no foreplay, just sex and then a kid pops up and your life is over. Go out and get a real girlfriend? Look at those guys. What girl would want them and I don't mean that as a mock, I am dead serious. One look at me and you'd set yourself on fire like you've just seen Meg in Family Guy. Physical attraction ALWAYS comes before mental. Guys never fully grow up and women refuse to accept that. These guys are saving themselves a lifetime of misery if you ask me.

  • I find it really ignorant that people say they can't be 10-12 year olds. It's Japan. And no, I'm not stereotyping, I've lived there. If you go to Akihabara, otaku-central, in a million shops you walk in and see posters of modestly-dressed 10-y-o anime girls covered in cum. Don'd confuse Japan with other Asian countries

    As much as I jizz over Japan, that traumatised me. But it's completely not extraordinary there…

  • freaks get councling and a girlfriend.

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