'Demon wife' earns husband a fortune

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Like any hen-pecked husband, Japanese office worker Kazuma considered the time-honoured solutions to domestic hell - more work, the golf course or the comfort of the local bar. Unlike most, he opted to pound out his frustrations on his home computer and put the results online.

Six years and three million hits later, in oni-yome nikki ("demon wife diaries") Kazuma has created one of the most famous characters in Japan's blogland, and the monster he spawned has been turned into a best-selling book, a TV series, a video-game, and now a movie.

In his blog, "Kazuma" - a pseudonym: the author still lives in anonymity - is victimised by a pitiless shrew who forces him to eat his daughter's leftovers, sleep in a separate room when he falls ill, and hunt for her favourite radish in a storm. "She said I was wet anyway so I might as well just keep looking," he told The Independent on Sunday. "I suppose she had a point."

The TV demon wife is worse. In one scene she sends her husband shopping for their daughter's underwear with the word "knickers" on the back of his hand while she lounges in a beauty salon. When he can't find the right product, she orders him to take pictures of panties, and he is arrested as a pervert by a store security guard.

Millions of Japanese men squirm with Kazuma as he is put through the wringer, but his wife has become a cult feminist heroine. Some women's magazines have created "demon wife" sections with stories by housewives who compete to tell how badly they treat their husbands. "A lot of women think it is funny to see the man being bullied and his wife being so blunt and strong," said a spokeswoman for Ameba Books, publisher of Demon Wife Diaries.

It is one more sign that the once dominant corporate Japanese salaryman is losing the war of the sexes. The magnificently surly beast, who took pride in his ability to communicate his needs in barked, one-word commands, is on the end of a growing backlash. Many are preparing for what the media have dubbed the "2007 divorce shock", when 6.8 million male baby-boomers retire to less-than-ecstatic wives next year.

But Kazuma, who met his wife in high school, says his marriage is safe. "I love her," he says. "Anyone who has been married for a long time will understand."

Kazuma's wife has never been tempted to take revenge in her own blog. "She doesn't know how to use a PC," says her husband. "She prefers the TV." Their domestic tensions have been smoothed over by the estimated £175,000 in royalties, but life for the family is the same as ever. "She still nags; I still go to work every day. Nobody around here even knows who we are."