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Yobai (Japanese: 夜這い, "night crawling") was an ancient Japanese custom usually practiced by young unmarried people. It was once common all over Japan and was practiced in some rural areas until the beginning of the Meiji era and even into the 20th century.[10]


At night, young unmarried men silently entered houses with young unmarried women. A man would silently crawl into a woman's room and make his intentions known. If the woman consented, they would sleep together. By the morning, he would leave.[1][2] The girl's family might know about it but pretend they did not.[2] It was common for young people to find a spouse like this.[1][3]

According to ethnologist Akamatsu Keisuke, the practice varied from place to place. In some areas, any post-puberty woman, married or unmarried, could be visited by any post-puberty man, married or unmarried, from the village and even by men from other villages and travellers. In other places, only married women and widows could be visited, while single girls could not. And there were variations; for example, the "closed type" yobai was a custom in which only men from the same village had the right of visitation.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Josie Dew (2012-08-02). A Ride In The Neon Sun: A Gaijin in Japan. Little, Brown Book Group. pp. 380–. ISBN 978-1-4055-1969-4.
  2. ^ a b c Liza Dalby (2009-02-01). East Wind Melts the Ice: A Memoir Through the Seasons. University of California Press. p. 252. ISBN 978-0-520-25991-1.
  3. ^ a b Boye De Mente (2011-07-12). Japan's Cultural Code Words: Key Terms That Explain the Attitudes and Behavior of the Japanese. Perseus Books Group. p. 296. ISBN 978-1-4629-0062-6.
  4. ^ Report. Asiatic Research Center, Korea University. 1966. p. 713.
  5. ^ John Stevens (2010). Tantra of the Tachikawa Ryu: Secret Sex Teachings of the Buddha. Stone Bridge Press. p. 41. ISBN 978-1-61172-520-9.
  6. ^ Clare Campbell (2008-12-08). Tokyo Hostess: Inside the shocking world of Tokyo nightclub hostessing. Little, Brown Book Group. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-7481-1208-1.
  7. ^ 東京大学アメリカ太平洋研究. 東京大学大学院総合文化研究科附属アメリカ太平洋地域研究センタ. 2006. pp. 222–4.
  8. ^ a b Sonia Ryang (2006-10-19). Love in Modern Japan: Its Estrangement from Self, Sex and Society. Routledge. pp. 30–. ISBN 978-1-135-98863-0.
  9. ^ Japan Studies Review. Southern Japan Seminar. 1998. pp. 48, 50.
  10. ^ [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9]