glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
social sciences
special features
about glbtq


   member name
   Forgot Your Password?  
Not a Member Yet?  

  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy






Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

Japanese Art  
page: 1  2  3  

Beginning in the early 1970s with artists such as Moto Hagio, the genre known as "boy love" (shonen'ai) soon established itself as a favorite with Japanese women and remains popular today.

A much less extensive and far less graphic genre of "girls' love" (shojo ai) has also developed, although the creators of these manga, like those of the boy love genre, do not engage in identity politics and would not consider their illustrations to be of "lesbian sex," which in Japan still invokes images of women-women scenes in mainstream male pornography.

The long tradition of depicting homosexual and, from a Western perspective, gender non-normative acts and figures, is still alive and well today in Japanese culture. The less politicized nature of sexuality, particularly homosexuality, in Japan has meant that these representations are less segregated than in the West and are enjoyed by a broader audience.

However, there have been complaints from Japan's growing number of gay rights activists that images of homosexuality in the media serve only to parody and distort real gay life.

Mark McLelland

  <previous page   page: 1  2  3    

Contact Us
Join the Discussion
Related Entries
More Entries by this contributor
A Bibliography on this Topic

Citation Information
More Entries about The Arts

   Related Entries
social sciences >> Overview:  Japan

Blending elements from indigenous traditions and recently imported Western discourses of sexual identity, Japan is home to one of the most diverse and dynamic queer cultures in Asia.

arts >> Overview:  Japanese Film

Offering visions of sexual transgression divorced from Western political correctness and assimilationist civil rights ideals, Japanese queer cinema is unique.

literature >> Overview:  Japanese Literature

The trajectory of the treatment of same-sex love in Japanese literature differs radically from that in Western literatures, but offers many interesting texts that include male-male or female-female love.

social sciences >> Overview:  Tokyo

Tokyo is home to a vast entertainment world that supports hundreds of venues for individuals with diverse sexual and gender identities and interests.

arts >> Kabuki

Kabuki, a classic Japanese theatrical form incorporating fantastical costumes, stylized gestures, music, and dance, originally showcased female and boy prostitutes, but now features all-male casts.

arts >> Manga

In Japan, manga--or comic books--are an important medium of cultural expression and frequently feature male and female homosexuality.

literature >> Saikaku, Ihara

Saikaku's The Great Mirror of Male Love is a collection of short stories that depict male homosexual love as it was practiced in seventeenth-century Japan.

arts >> Takarazuka (All-Female Revues in Japan)

Takarazuka, all-female musical and theater companies, are popular entertainment in Japan, but they tellingly illustrate the construction of gender roles and inspire intense--often homoerotic--fan response.


Czaja, Michael. Gods of Myth and Stone: Phallicism in Japanese Folk Religion. New York and Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1974.

Faure, Bernard. The Red Thread: Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1998.

Guth, Christine. "The Divine Boy in Japanese Art." Monumenta Nipponica 42.1 (1988): 1-23.

Leupp, Gary. Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

McLelland, Mark. Male Homosexuality in Modern Japan: Cultural Myths and Social Realities. Richmond, U. K.: Curzon Press, 2000.

Saikaku, Ihara. The Great Mirror of Male Love. Paul Gordon Schalow, trans. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1990.

Screech, Timon. Sex and the Floating World: Erotic Images in Japan 1700-1820. London: Reaktion Books, 1999.

Watanabe, Tsuneo, and Jun'ichi Iwata. The Love of the Samurai: A Thousand Years of Japanese Homosexuality. London: GMP, 1989.


    Citation Information
    Author: McLelland, Mark  
    Entry Title: Japanese Art  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated September 24, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  


This Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc. is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.