TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- They are young, earn little and spend little, and take a keen interest in fashion and personal appearance -- meet the "herbivore men" of Japan.
Author and pop culture columnist Maki Fukasawa coined the term in 2006 in a series of articles on marketing to a younger generation of Japanese men. She used it to describe some men who she said were changing the country's ideas about just what is -- and isn't -- masculine.
"In Japan, sex is translated as 'relationship in flesh,'" she said, "so I named those boys 'herbivorous boys' since they are not interested in flesh."
Typically, "herbivore men" are in their 20s and 30s, and believe that friendship without sex can exist between men and women, Fukasawa said.
The term has become a buzzword in Japan. Many people in Tokyo's Harajuku neighborhood were familiar with "herbivore men" -- and had opinions about them.
Shigeyuki Nagayama said such men were not eager to find girlfriends and tend to be clumsy in love, and he admitted he seemed to fit the mold himself.
"My father always asks me if I got a girlfriend. He tells me I'm no good because I can't get a girlfriend."
Midori Saida, a 24-year-old woman sporting oversized aviators and her dyed brown hair in long ringlets, said "herbivore men" were "flaky and weak."
"We like manly men," she said. "We are not interested in those boys -- at all."
Takahito Kaji, 21, said he has been told he is "totally herbivorous."
"Herbivorous boys are fragile, do not have a stocky body -- skinny."
Fukasawa said Japanese men from the baby boomer generation were typically aggressive and proactive when it came to romance and sex. But as a result of growing up during Japan's troubled economy in the 1990s, their children's generation was not as assertive and goal-oriented. Their outlook came, in part, from seeing their fathers' model of masculinity falter even as Japanese women gained more lifestyle options.