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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119 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Anonymous

    Dear Japan, what the fuck?

  2. Anonymous

    what the fuck is right, damn

  3. Animusdelendi

    Lol , cool prepude to marriage

  4. Anonymous

    “Dear Japan, what the fuck?”

    LOL

  5. Anonymous

    Hello, may i rape?

  6. S

    We have so much to learn.

  7. Anonymous

    I am SO visiting a Japanese village this summers

  8. ANONYMOUS

    “Suprise!”

  9. Anonymous

    Practice safe sex, where a hood. lol!

  10. Anonymous

    “Practice safe sex, where a hood”

    LMAO xD

  11. :D

    … Oh god.
    Japan, how I love thee.

  12. Anonymous

    Surprise sex!

  13. sugoi...

    “damn i can’t wake her up.. oh well… *goes at it…*”

  14. lonelygirl51

    Hmmmm…if he was hot…then maybe..(did I just say that..? fuck….I need a boyfriend)

  15. Anonymous

    Lonelygirl51: yes, you definitely do.

  16. Tenrou

    That is so amazing how Japanese are so slutty

  17. Anonymous

    lol. I would kick a person in the fac if that happened to me. lol wtf is right.

  18. McBush

    America needs to learn from japan

  19. miramira

    that explains the old man in my room last night!

    he was so dissaoppointed when I turned on the lights!

  20. Anonymous

    I love tradition.

  21. ershnuff

    Japan has got to have one of the weirdest and simultaneously the most interesting cultures I’ve ever heard of. One would think that peeing on a door is stupid and immature upon first thinking about it, but the reason for which it is done, stealth, is actually quite practical and intelligent, albeit kinda gross at the same time.

    Japan has completely different liability laws than we do in the United States. One could say that they are more free, but at the same time they are not because more things could be done to an individual and there would be no consequences or repercussions. The culture in Japan still largely focuses on the people as a whole, the commonality, rather than a society full of individuals–this is a more Western school of thought.

    Yobai would essentially be some sort of oxymoronic consensual rape… something you’d never find in the US.

  22. Anonymous

    So that’s where the Santa Claus tradition came from; only in a really mediocre way.

    Maybe that’s why my chimney was full of piss last Xmas…

  23. Jami

    Sooo romantic!!!!! i would love 4 my future husband 2 sweep me off my feet dat way….. lol, ya right. 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

  24. anice

    seriously what the fuck. Oh Japan, you never fail to amuse the West

  25. SMUTBAGS

    I wonder if this is how the X-Mens Nightcrawler got his name…”Oh shit someones coming*BAMF!*”

  26. Aah, Japan, you always deliver. I like the bit about oiling the doors with urine.

    So romantic…

  27. “Lonelygirl51: yes, you definitely do.”
    LOL, kudos. xD

    seriously, japan is “supposedly” very creative and smart and.. very strict with being polite.

    but then men go jumping into girl’s windows asking
    for “safe” sex.

    ridiculous xD

  28. Anonymous

    This is the most awesome story I’ve ever heard XD

  29. sick of the big white man

    thank God we do not adhere to the standards of the “west”, who, up until now thinks that everything revolves around their corrupted, self-righteous ideals. fuck the human who thinks he is better than his peers. In the end, we all share the same fate as dust.

  30. This is an incredibly awesome tradition :D

  31. Anonymous

    How desperate do you have to be to do that :|

  32. Thanatos

    Wow…

    It’s definitely an interesting read. The urine to stop the squeaking is ingenious.

  33. Nyx

    Just found this. I lol’d in real life over it. XD

    But seriously, for someone who’s studied a bit of anthropology and all the diverse customs and traditions that human societies have had throughout the ages this doesn’t even seem that extreme – it’s pretty interesting actually. Still, Japan is one of the most economically advanced and modernized countries in the world, so to hear that a tradition like that is still alive there is shocking for someone who has an exclusively Western view on things. Honestly, Japan is like the ultimate land of contradictions.

  34. cara

    wow, is this a meme yet?

  35. cale

    this is also common in some areas of rural china. it is definitely not acceptable for foreigners to try this.

  36. LEONZU

    WOOOOW I LIKE YOBAI…TO JAPAN GOOD FUCKING CULTURE..

  37. they’re gonna taste rape (sung to the frosties advert)

  38. Ambey

    o.0

    Uh…

    “Hi. My name is Bob, and um, yeah, you can’t see my face cuz I have a cloth over it. Don’t be afraid, I practice safe sex~! Hey, you wanna get laid and then marry me~?! Sounds good. Please don’t break open a can of whoop-ass tsundere on my hormonal self.”

    Oh, gosh, I can imagine something like that… XD Japan, Japan, you stun and bewilder me, all the while enchanting me.

  39. Dan Atson

    What happens if the night crawler is “gay”?

  40. Anonymous

    Heh.. I’m going to Japan.. >.> Like the saying goes “When in Rome, do like Romans do.” XD

  41. lonelygirl52

    Sounds fun.

  42. Wikipedia doesn’t know about it this, so this thing doesn’t exist.

    If it’s not in Wikipedia…

  43. Hedcase

    Hahaha WtF Japan ^.^

  44. imominous

    Japan confuses me. I haven’t even figured out the giant angry robots yet, and now this?

  45. Angelababy

    Please I need night climbing in my high rise apartment building in Hong Kong

  46. Nakata

    It is exactly a rude behaviour if they don’t make a deed before doing it. Supposed it was an excited idea to do it with a girl you love, just make sure when the right time are both really enjoy, move it to be a magic moment.

  47. Tampon

    Try to fix the night crawling vertically outside a high rise apartment building.

  48. Anonymous

    It is a folklore of love on a side look interesting and seductive. The dark side is that the similar animal behavior still happening in civilized society.

  49. Anonymous

    That’s why I am happy to stay in old fashion japanese homestay.

  50. crabby

    How depressing to read something interesting and then see a bunch of witless fools comment on it.
    “Where a hood”: I don’t suppose you know wear to find a dictionary?
    “Hmmmm…if he was hot…then maybe..(did I just say that..?”: Ooh, how edgy, a woman who expresses an interest in sex with attractive men. EDGY. Maybe someday you will get the right to vote and have a job and drive a car?
    “some sort of oxymoronic consensual rape”: If it is consensual it isn’t rape. I know you are dying to use the word “oxymoronic” but come on.
    “What happens if the night crawler is ‘gay’”: Maybe he sneaks in the window of someone who has a cock, then? Either that or he only pretends to enjoy screwing the young woman? It is one or the other, Socrates.

  51. char

    This is what you call night life.. japanese style..LOL..

  52. creepus

    There is actually an amazing short story by the late Nobel prize winning writer Yasunari Kawabata called House of Sleeping Beauties about this very kink… written in the 60s!

  53. Ace

    Glad to see that thousand-year-old traditions are still alive and well. XD That’s awesome.

  54. OMG

    I wonder how often the guy finds out after he was accidentally in grandma’s room

  55. ANONYMOUS

    Japanese version: Yobai
    American Version: Santa’s Surprise!

    :D

  56. ANONYMUS

    How did you meet your husband? When I was 22 he came into my house naked in the night, slipped into my futon and asked to have sex with me and I agreed. W later got to know each other more and then got married! YAY!

  57. Jonathan

    To all of those of you saying “Japan you stun me” regarding “sexual” exploits… keep in mind, japan ranks as the second worst country in sexual activity. AKA, they have the least amount of sex. The only worse country is Hong Kong (which soon won’t be a country and Japan will be the worst then).

    Dream on weirdos, but that Japan is long gone. These days yobai is no longer yobai, it’s more the same as when in the USA a guy sneaks in and has sex with his girlfriend. But slap a silly “exotic” word like “yobai” on it and the nipponophiles jump all over it.

  58. Amok

    I wish I could get together with some friends do this here in the U.S..

  59. joe

    you all are sick.

  60. Madyson

    My first reaction was to laugh… my second was to send it to my friends… my third was to be a bit stunned at the hypocritical statements made here. Because statistically many women, (men too) fantasize about this kind of thing. And two, it’s not really that uncommon throughout history. Many cultures have other forms of this. And considering that in many cultures the whole family slept in one room… yeah, this isn’t particularly shocking. And also considering the cultural acceptability of anonymous sex in America and other western societies… Perhaps we should look beyond our own prejudices and what we see to be social norms, and reflect on how we would feel about it if the act of yobai was a social norm.

  61. Hugh

    I read this and I thought huh, what a cool custom. Then I read the comment. What is wrong with you people? Some of you are okay (hats off to crabby) but what’s with all the comments going on about how this is fucked up.

    “Oh no! Two conseting people engaged in a mutually enjoyable activity. That shits just fucked up! And *gasp,* egad. A young man seeking to bring pleasure and excitement into the life of the woman he loves as a prelude to marriage? Japan. Equals. The devil.”

    As a society we NEED to get over the hangup about sex. Both wanting it and not wanting it.

    PS: To Jonathan, your point is valid but, as a sidenote, I wonder how they gather those statistics? That would be just about the most awkward survey anyone ever took.

  62. Slyspirit

    after the guy urinated on the bottom hinge, how the hell can he urinate on the top hinge??? That is quite a reach.

  63. Chester

    Seriously?

    This kind of thing is pretty common around the world – especially in the Pacific.

    For everyone who’s freaking out, you forget that the casual flirting that we’re used to is a very, very new thing in terms of human culture. In a world where men and women aren’t allowed to be seen in public together, this kind of secrecy is the natural way to deal with it.

    Natural?

    Yes. Natural. It’s not rape because, half the time, the woman would be in on it, or would have given hints as to her intentions. It might have often become rape, but women are just as horny as men; it’s entirely certain that women initiated these encounters just as often as the men – especially in the countryside where there’s nothing else to do and marriage, sex and childbirth are extremely straightforward and businesslike things in life.

    If you think I’m full of it, just look at any poor white trash community in the States, or a bogan community in Australia. What do teenagers do? They go off in cars and fuck in the woods, get pregnant, and have a shotgun wedding. It’s the same exact thing, just following a different pattern.

    Honestly, people – culture isn’t that complicated or mysterious.

  64. Chester

    P.S. Jonathan is right – ooh, a silly new word! Look at the funny “other” people.

    However, Jonathan is only half right. The Japanese have less sex IN MARRIAGE because of their architecture and family structure. When you live in a house with very thin walls, your grandparents in the other room, and your children in bed with you, sex just isn’t an option. I know this because my girlfriend sleeps in the same room with her children and mother.

    However, Japan gets around this in a lot of ways. The first, and simplest, is that it’s pretty much ok for people to cheat on their spouses here. Again, I know this because I slept with a married woman here for a while. Another adaptation is the love hotel – a luxury hotel with hourly rates for “resting.”

    The Japanese are shockingly open and honest about sex, in reality. I just had a conversation with some old and middle-aged people about how my girlfriend planned on spending the night at my place soon – without missing a beat, they ask, “What if you get her pregnant?!” – without bothering to lower their voices or act shy about it at all.

    Girlfriend coming over = fucking, and no one is shy about saying it – especially the old folks.

  65. jon

    This seems very strange until you look up the definition and meaning of a “best man”.

  66. If only I’d known about this while I was in Japan. What’s this about it being rude for foreigners to participate?

  67. Piggachew

    Oh wow. Practice safe sex, wear a HOOD. This isn’t illegal..how? Oh yeah. It’s Japan…

  68. Yo bye

    the idea turns me on.
    extremely interesting japanese customs..

  69. Anonymous

    Holy Fuck. I love Japan.
    This would be amazing. I’m sorry. Come rape me, my hot intruder!

  70. Conquistador

    wtf happened to old japan now you cant even show dicks and cunts in porn or shave your bush

  71. Anonymous

    LOL!!! :D

    if dat ever happend to me the man wud be leaving without his balls!!!

    but at the same time i would love to experience it , imagine me half asleep a man pssing on my door comes in n does me doggy style [ he probally doesnt want me to see his face] oh well.

    :P

  72. Anonymous

    SURPRISE BUTT SEX!

  73. Bert

    I used to sneak in my girlfriend’s room for sex all the time when I was in high school. It was consensual. her parents were asleep in the next room and we never got caught. Isn’t this kind of behaviour normal in America?

  74. MadameNeko

    Who knew that such a reserved culture could be so… perverted? lmao, don’t get me wrong, I respect Japan’s culture and all that, even to the point where I find myself enchanted by many aspects of it, but this was just surprising. It’s not so bad compared to Western practices, I mean, practically every place in the world married cousins. Can you say incest? It’s a personal choice though, and they do have a right to say, “No,” so there’s nothing wrong with it.

  75. Her: “Who are you?”
    Him: “Ehm, just slip on your futon”
    Her: “…”
    Him: “So, let’s rock, not?”

    :D

  76. SomeKraut

    In Bavaria and Austria there used to be a similar custom, called “Fensterln”: Find a girl you like, get a ladder, climb up to her window (=Fenster). I think is not supposed to be asleep by the time you arrive. I don’t think it always was about sex, but more of a way of getting to know each other in stuffy conservative catholic Bavaria (reading books from that period gives one the impression that you could get in trouble for just writing a love letter or talking to a girl). In recent decades even Bavaria got more liberal and “fensterln” is only practised for kicks. In northern parts of Germany it’s now regarded as an offense: Trespassing…

  77. Semper Idem

    Interesting comments from the modern, independant and free world.
    Shy and uptight, infantile and rowdy primitive for the most.

    The japanese culture is a little bit older than the ignorant and free american way of life – as most other cultures around the globe are.

    It’s easy to joke about other habbits, as it would be to joke about ours.

    We should try to be more tolerant and live and let live. Without intentions to demonify or teach – and without expecting those we terrorized and slave-drived over the centuries to approach our lifestyle.

    Our way is not the only one – there are six billions ways to live.
    Based on religion, tradition, convenience and blissful ignorance.
    And of course on shareholder value.

    Choose your style and let the others choose theirs.

  78. Anon 1:50

    And just where are the feminists weighing in on this subject?

    I mean, why should this be a “Men Only” deal, huh?

    Just think. Nude hotties cuddling up to you in the deep darkness of night, their soft flesh, warmly…

    Uh.

    Gotta go. Later!

  79. Noose

    No way! It isn’t true… Don’t teach incorrect information to anybody…
    It truly happened long time ago, but only between both the man and the woman love each other. This article is totally …WTF

  80. rty

    haha yes, acctually my gf crawled on me at night :DDD at our first time, i liked :D

  81. Anonymous

    Nothing is better than surprise sex.

  82. nampa

    Chester, you are right Japan is like the mature 21 year old when it comes to sex, while the Anglo-sphere is a pathetic 14 year old church girl, “eeww, people have more than one sex partner and do more than missionary (shock)!
    The Victorian, puritanical bull that passes for a modern, free society in America is pathetic. Get a clue. Some of the women on here need to experience their bodies beyond a vibrator.
    However, Japan is not “open” with its sexuality. When you talked to the couple like that, they were probably embarrassed. Just keep it mums and be a gentlemen and enjoy living outside UK/USA/Oceania.

  83. WOW this is great honestly try before you buy lol and it really takes away the need to have any game lol.

  84. Anonymous

    great..ima do it 2night

  85. digi

    its not that uncommon here in the US believe it or not me and my friends used to sneak into girls houses while their parents were sleep and have sex but the girl would call us first or we would plan it earlier that day at school but we did know the person though

  86. Jess

    As long as it was someone you wanted to have sex with anyway, it would be a real thrill to wake up and find them right there, ready to go. If it was someone you didn’t like…not so awesome.

  87. J

    Funnily enough, my first time having sex was with a Japanese guy crawling in my bed in the middle of the night. Good times :)

  88. J

    This is why they had that earthquake. At least that’s what the Westboro Baptist Church believes. Oh, and gays. Oh the gays…

  89. Debauchee69

    I’m trying to figure out what I would say if she woke up screaming:

    1. This ain’t room 1021 of Hotel Yamaguchi? Sorry, lady; I must be sleep walking again.
    2. It’s not like I didn’t have your parent’s permission. They wanted to get you something for graduation and well—here I am, baby!!!
    3. I HATE these damn Japanese houses; the rooms look all the same!!!
    4. Yuki, is that YOU?!!!

  90. Anonymous

    O.o lol I know way too much about japan
    the japs are just plain wierd…

  91. MM

    This still occurs…and it takes place amongst all ages. For about a year after my older sister’s divorce she made it quietly known that she was so available and I think it was therapeutic for her.

  92. 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!

  93. Sarah

    Is it rape or is it yobai?

  94. 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.

  95. 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.

  96. WTF

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

  97. YOBAI MAN

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

  98. Anonymous

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

  99. ~_~

    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..

  100. 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.

  101. 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.

  102. 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.

  103. 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.

  104. 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

  105. 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!

  106. does it matter

    This…this is a joke right?…RIGHT?

  1. Yobai « Bizzarro Bazar - Jul 3rd, 2010

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