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Food, sleep, or sex? Survey asks Japanese people which they can’t live without

Aug 16, 2019

One wins in a landslide, while another gets hardly any votes at all.

Popular Japanese psychology has something it calls the sandai yokkyu. Translating directly as “the three great desires,” they’re a hunger for food, a yearning for sleep, and a desire for sex, the trio of wants that are supposed to serve as humanity’s great motivators.

But which of the three great desires is the greatest? That’s what Japanese survey site Sirabee wanted to find out, and so it polled 1,781 men and women in Japan, ranging in age from teenagers to people in their 60s, and asked “Which of the three great desires could you not live without?”

When all the votes were tallied, sitting at the top of the podium was food, which earned more than half of the votes, with 53.7 percent of responses.

Food’s landslide win came with a large lead over number-two response, a desire for sleep, which garnered 38.7 percent of the votes, but the gap was even greater between sleep and the bottom choice, sex, which ended up with only 7.6 percent of the vote.

While it’s tempting to point to these figures as another example of mentality causing Japan’s low birth rate, it’s important to keep in mind how the question was phrased: “Which of the three great desires could you not live without?” “If you don’t eat, you’re going to die,” commented one survey participant matter-of-factly.

The large number of votes for sleep might seem strange, until you take into account that studies have shown Japan to be an extremely sleep-deprived country. This is, after all, the nation where sleep is in such short supply that taking recharging naps on the train is pretty much part of the standard adult lifestyle, and that Tokyo even had a sleep cafe for a while. “People who can easily sleep deeply might not understand how important it is,” said one survey respondent, “but I’ve been sleep-deprived because of stress, and know how hard it is on the body if you don’t get enough sleep.”

So with food and sleep being outright needs for the body to function properly, the low number of votes for sex in the survey might not be so much a sign of low sex drive as the survey respondents taking the question of what they can’t live without literally. “Not being able to eat or sleep is a matter of life and death,” said one participant, and it’s true that while the 7.6 percent of respondents who voted for sex would have unhappy lives if they weren’t sexually active, they’d at least still be alive.

Source: Sirabee via Niconico News via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2)
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where his personal list of great desires stretches to the double digits.

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