Japan for the Uninvited

Japanese culture from a bemused foreign perspective

Yobai (Night crawling)

FutonsUntil quite recently in rural Japan, yobai, or “night crawling” would have been an introduction to sex for many young people. While a young woman slept, a silent intruder would creep into her room, slide behind her and make his intentions known. If she consented, they would have discrete sex until the early morning, when he would have to slip out of the house as stealthily as he had slipped in.

The young man might be known to the girl and her family. Also, in a seasonal agricultural economy, farmers might have a number of laborers sleeping under their roofs sometimes, knowing that their daughters might be targets for yobai. In some cases, groups of friends would travel miles to neighboring villages, where the embarrassment of capture wouldn’t be as great, and each target a different girl.

In many cases, yobai would be conducted entirely with the knowledge of the girl’s parents. In fact, it was sometimes a prelude to marriage – parents would turn a blind eye the first few nights a young man secretly visited their daughter, but then he would be “caught”, and a more public courtship would begin.

Yobai tactics

  • Take your clothes off before you even sneak into the house. In Fukuoka, it was once illegal to attack a naked intruder, as he was probably engaged in yobai rather than theft.
  • Keep it quiet, even if socially questionable acts are required. One technique to avoid detection was to urinate along the bottom of doors to prevent them squeaking as they were slid open.
  • Practice safe sex. A night crawling man would often cover his face with a cloth, protecting himself and his chosen lady from embarrassment if she rejected his advances.

Yobai clubs

Reportedly, yobai still happens in the more remote areas of Japan, and there seems to be nostalgia for the practice elsewhere. The seduction of sleeping women is a popular theme of Japanese pornography, and some image clubs offer special yobai services – providing prostitutes who pretend to be asleep while the client slips into their futon.

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124 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. GG

    Did it occur to anyone that the girl might not consent but the guy might insist? I mean…what can she do then?and in fact in Korea and Japan,if a girl is rapped or even attacked…she is stigmatised for life…and everybody blames her and never the rapist.That is fucked up…as much as I love Asian cultures some things are unacceptable.The same of course goes for any culture…we are a flawed society and nothing can be done unfortunately..but plz…”be the change you want to see in the world”,maybe then we can slowly make this a better world! peace!

  2. Sarah

    Is it rape or is it yobai?

  3. Texan

    I guess in Japan nobody owns a gun? Try this sh*t in Texas and yet @$$ is grass. And ain’t no daddy gonna “turn a blind eye”. More likely to shoot a hole through one though.

  4. MikoAmaya

    Am I the only one (except Jonathan and a few others) who actually read the part “prelude to marriage” in this description? As in, they already KNOW each other? As in, it’s NOT rape? Sheesh people, learn to read in between the lines.

  5. WTF

    and they shared their wives to visitors woo hoo
    japs are really weird in many ways


    ALL U SHUT UP IF U WANT YOBAI THEN READ THIS http://mangafox.me/manga/minamoto_kun_monogatari/v01/c017/6.html

  7. Anonymous

    remember people, the women has to accept before the man can sex her, so its technically not rape.

  8. ~_~

    oh well come on… don’t just say “FCK this is japan” all the similar to this.. well if ur mind is thinking such a way .. i hope u people won’t be coming to japan just for that..

  9. kiirimi

    I think it would be hilarious to find a naked intruder in my room. especially since i already sleep with a knife, and would have every right to stab him in his penis.

  10. BillHive

    So its just asking for sex in the middle of the night? I do it all the time. Most bitches are whores anyways, just giving them what they want.

  11. ANON

    I wonder how this would work in America.

    Going around naked in the middle of the night to most likely be seen, attempt to enter somebody’s house without sounding any alarms, finding the right room and hoping it’s a woman’s room, then to find out the cops were called or you were rejected or both just to spend the night in prison naked.

    This would totally work. I suggest someone to try it.

  12. Anonymous

    It isn’t that awkward -at the time-. If it’s more present or different culture, yeah, it would seem weird |:U.

    But I think this is interesting indeed!
    And poor guys climbing the high-rises (And people inside those windows), xD I just hope they’d stay to present sanitation and don’t uh… urinate place, lol.

  13. Jess

    Everyone has sex. Americans are all about being open minded but are hypocritical prudes.
    Look up pink box book. A really cool read about Japanese sex industry

  14. Jack-Tack

    Technically it’s just sleep fucking, just saying. I used to have a fetish of that when I was eleven… Anyways, I demand sex motels in America and Russia!

  15. does it matter

    This…this is a joke right?…RIGHT?

  16. Richard

    “… i’ll try beat da crap out of some1 who tried dat 2 me n they would hav some problems walkin n havin children 2. at less they r practicin safe sex, lol”

    No worries, Jami, I would never crawl into the bed of anyone — sleeping or awake — who uses chatspeak in place of words. It makes you sound like an obnoxious moron and (maybe it’s just me) that’s not a turn-on.

    That touches on why I love Japanese girls – in my experience they are usually pleasant, respectful (like of the reader) as well as self-respecting, non-judgmental, and intelligent.

  17. safesex

    Given that in these small farming towns, everyone knows everyone else. This isn’t that much different that teenage American boys sneaking into the girlfriends bedroom window. Just less commitment abound who your girlfriend us that week…

  18. Sam

    I think I a quasi-yobai my first year in Japan. Eventually, after 5 years in Japan and graduate study of Japanese, I become quite fluent. But my first girlfriend was in a 16,000 person population fishing village; she would only speak English with me. She later worked in Canada on a working holiday visa, and probably married a foreigner. I visited her home the traditional way, through the front door, but her family was very welcoming and she and I spent a lot of time in her bedroom. 🙂 Back then I hadn’t heard of yobai. I wonder if her family thought she and I were a quasi-yobai? 🙂 She didn’t want to be too open about our relationship in public, she told me, but everyone seemed to know. 🙂 Her family never put pressure to marry, as far as I know because none of them spoke English and I had no one translate except the girlfriend. 🙂 I moved to the big city after we dated for 10 months, though I had told everyone I had returned home, but I had taken a teaching job in that big city. I announced my “return” about 5 months after leaving the fishing village, and saw her a few times in both places. I eventually married another Japanese woman from the big city. Yet, even then the first girlfriend and I hooked up a few times after marriage. I sometimes wonder if my quasi-yobai lady was my “true” love, like some of those yobai hook ups. She;s married now as I see on facebook, but we haven’t communicated in about 12 years. Looks like it is too late, so guys be careful and try not to miss out on a true love yobai. Haha

  19. Anonymous

    Mushoku Tensei brought me here 😛

  20. ZZZ

    Well it’s interesting but is it really that big of a deal??

    I mean if it was rape that’d be serious but doesn’t sound like it is.
    First the parents thing, then the consent from the partner sounds very reasonable. In fact compared to European traditions that I read about it’s much more free.

    But I guess this tradition is easy to take advantage of. Well in my country young man around my age are usually very afraid of their girlfriend’s brothers, sometimes even younger brothers with little age difference. No matter how peaceful or some might say wimpy those brothers usually are, they become really fierce and scary somehow whenever something too bad happens. There was a girl who was raped in my hometown, she stopped coming to school and week later her older brother caught the guy but waited 2 days to turn him to police. 2 months later the guy went to instead of prison to mental hospital. And no-one bothered the older brother about it too much.

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