Last updated

Bishōnen( 美少年 , also transliterated Loudspeaker.svg bishounen  ) is a Japanese term literally meaning "beautiful youth (boy)" and describes an aesthetic that can be found in disparate areas in East Asia: a young man whose beauty (and sexual appeal) transcends the boundary of gender or sexual orientation. This word originated from the Tang Dynasty Poetry Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup . [1] It has always shown the strongest manifestation in Japanese pop culture, gaining in popularity due to the androgynous glam rock bands of the 1970s, [2] but it has roots in ancient Japanese literature, the homosocial and homoerotic ideals of the medieval Chinese imperial court and intellectuals, and Indian aesthetic concepts carried over from Hinduism, imported with Buddhism to China. [3] Today, bishōnen are very popular among girls and women in Japan. [3] [4] Reasons for this social phenomenon may include the unique male and female social relationships found within the genre. Some have theorized that bishōnen provide a non-traditional outlet for gender relations. Moreover, it breaks down stereotypes surrounding feminine male characters. These are often depicted with very strong martial arts abilities, sports talent, high intelligence, dandy fashion, or comedic flair, traits that are usually assigned to the hero/protagonist. [5]

Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script to another that involves swapping letters in predictable ways.

Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by about 128 million people, primarily in Japan, where it is the national language. It is a member of the Japonic language family, and its relation to other languages, such as Korean, is debated. Japanese has been grouped with language families such as Ainu, Austroasiatic, and the now-discredited Altaic, but none of these proposals has gained widespread acceptance.



Yoshitsune, a historical bishonen and his retainer Benkei view the falling cherry blossoms. Kuniyoshi Ishiyakushi.jpg
Yoshitsune, a historical bishōnen and his retainer Benkei view the falling cherry blossoms.

The prefix bi () more often than not refers to feminine beauty, and bijin , literally "beautiful person", is usually, though not always, used to refer to beautiful women. [3] Bichūnen(美中年) means "beautiful middle-aged man". [6] Biseinen is to be distinguished from bishōnen as seinen(青年) is used to describe men who are of age, including those who have entered or completed tertiary education. The term shōnen is used to describe boys of middle and high school age. Last, bishota can be used to refer to a beautiful, pre-pubescent male child or a childlike male. [3] Outside Japan, bishōnen is the most well-known of the three terms, and has become a generic term for all beautiful boys and young men.

Gender role Social role

A gender role, also known as a sex role, is a social role encompassing a range of behaviors and attitudes that are generally considered acceptable, appropriate, or desirable for people based on their actual or perceived sex. Gender roles are usually centered on conceptions of femininity and masculinity, although there are exceptions and variations. The specifics regarding these gendered expectations may vary substantially among cultures, while other characteristics may be common throughout a range of cultures. There is ongoing debate as to what extent gender roles and their variations are biologically determined, and to what extent they are socially constructed.

The aesthetic of the bishōnen began as an ideal of a young lover, originally embodied in the wakashū (若衆, literally "young person", although only used for boys), or adolescent boy, and was influenced by the effeminate male actors who played female characters in kabuki theater. The term arose in the Meiji era, in part to replace the by then obsolete erotic meaning of the older term wakashū, whose general meaning of "adolescent boy" had by this point been supplanted by the new term shōnen. [5] The bishōnen was conceived of as "aesthetically different from both women and men [...] both the antithesis and the antecedent of adult masculinity". [7]


Wakashū is a historical Japanese term indicating an adolescent boy.

<i>Kabuki</i> Classical Japanese dance-drama

Kabuki (歌舞伎) is a classical Japanese dance-drama. Kabuki theatre is known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by some of its performers.

The bishōnen is typically slender, with clear skin, stylish hair, and distinctly feminine facial features (such as high cheekbones), but simultaneously retains a male body. This androgynous appearance is akin to the depiction of angels in Western renaissance art, with similar social roots for this aesthetic. [5]

Androgyny is the combination of masculine and feminine characteristics into an ambiguous form. Androgyny may be expressed with regard to biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual identity. The different meanings of androgyny point to the complex interrelationship between aspects of sex, gender, and sexuality.

Renaissance European cultural period, 14th to 17th century

The Renaissance is a period in European history, covering the span between the 14th and 17th centuries and marking the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity. The traditional view focuses more on the early modern aspects of the Renaissance and argues that it was a break from the past, but many historians today focus more on its medieval aspects and argue that it was an extension of the middle ages.

The aesthetic of the bishōnen was recorded in Lady Murasaki Shikibu's Tale of Genji , written in about the year 1000 A.D. Genji concerns the exploits and romances of a young prince, the son of an emperor and beloved concubine, who is not in line to inherit the throne, and follows his intrigues through the court as he comes of age. The novel typifies the Heian age of Japanese history, a period of highly stylized romance. Prince Genji's beauty is described as transcendental, so much so that "one could have wished him a woman", with a bewitching attraction that is acknowledged by men and women alike.

Murasaki Shikibu Japanese novelist and poet

Murasaki Shikibu was a Japanese novelist, poet and lady-in-waiting at the Imperial court during the Heian period. She is best known as the author of The Tale of Genji, written in Japanese between about 1000 and 1012. Murasaki Shikibu is a descriptive name; her personal name is unknown, but she may have been Fujiwara no Kaoruko, who was mentioned in a 1007 court diary as an imperial lady-in-waiting.

Heian period last major division of classical Japanese history (794 to 1185), named after the capital city of Heian-kyō, or modern Kyōto

The Heian period is the last division of classical Japanese history, running from 794 to 1185. The period is named after the capital city of Heian-kyō, or modern Kyōto. It is the period in Japanese history when Buddhism, Taoism and other Chinese influences were at their height. The Heian period is also considered the peak of the Japanese imperial court and noted for its art, especially poetry and literature. Although the Imperial House of Japan had power on the surface, the real power was in the hands of the Fujiwara clan, a powerful aristocratic family who had intermarried with the imperial family. Many emperors actually had mothers from the Fujiwara family. Heian (平安) means "peace" in Japanese.

Hikaru Genji protagonist in Heian Chinese tale "The Tale of Genji"

Hikaru Genji is the protagonist of Murasaki Shikibu's important Heian-era Japanese novel The Tale of Genji. The story describes him as a superbly handsome man and a genius. Genji is the second son of a Japanese emperor, but he is relegated to civilian life for political reasons and lives as an imperial officer.

Minamoto no Yoshitsune and Amakusa Shirō have been identified as historical bishōnen. [8] Ian Buruma notes that Yoshitsune was considered by contemporaries to be not physically prepossessing, but that his legend later grew and due to this, he became depicted with good looks. [9] Abe no Seimei was depicted according to the standards of a Heian-era middle-aged man, but since 1989 he has been depicted as a modern-style bishōnen. [10]

Minamoto no Yoshitsune samurai of the late Heian and early Kamakura period

Minamoto no Yoshitsune was a military commander of the Minamoto clan of Japan in the late Heian and early Kamakura periods. During the Genpei War, he led a series of battles which toppled the Ise-Heishi branch of the Taira clan, helping his half-brother Yoritomo consolidate power. He is considered one of the greatest and the most popular warriors of his era, and one of the most famous samurai fighters in the history of Japan. Yoshitsune perished after being betrayed by the son of a trusted ally.

Amakusa Shirō leader of the Shimabara Rebellion

Amakusa Shirō, also known as Amakusa Shirō Tokisada (天草四郎時貞), often romanized as Shirou, led the Shimabara Rebellion, an uprising of Japanese Roman Catholics against the Shogunate. They were defeated, and Shirō was executed at the age of 17, and his head was displayed on a pike near Nagasaki. Since the late 20th century, he has been featured in popular culture as a character in numerous manga, anime, and video games.

Abe no Seimei Japanese painter

Abe no Seimei was an onmyōji, a leading specialist of onmyōdō during the middle of the Heian period in Japan. In addition to his prominence in history, he is a legendary figure in Japanese folklore and has been portrayed in a number of stories and films.

Kyokutei Bakin wrote many works with nanshoku undertones featuring bishōnen characters, [11] and in 1848 he used the term bishōnen in the title of a work about the younger wakashu partner in the nanshoku relationship. [2]

The bishōnen aesthetic is continued today in anime and manga, especially shōjo and BL .


Some non-Japanese, especially American, anime and manga fans use the term to refer to any handsome male character regardless of age, or any homosexual character. [12] In the original Japanese, however, bishōnen applies only to boys under 18. For those older, the word bidanshi(美男子, literally "handsome man") is used. In the place of bishōnen, some fans prefer to use the slightly more sexually neutral bishie (also spelled as bishi) or bijin(美人), but these terms remain less common. The term binanshi was popular in the 1980s. Bishōnen is occasionally used to describe some androgynous female characters, such as Takarazuka actors, [13] Lady Oscar in The Rose of Versailles , [2] or any women with traits stereotypical to bishōnen.

Scottish pop singer Momus notably used the term in his song "Bishonen" from the "Tender Pervert" album (released on Creation Records). [14] Almost 8 minutes long, the song is an epic tale of a young boy raised to die young by an eccentric stepfather.

The enduring preference for bishōnen males can clearly be seen in Japan and throughout parts of East Asia to this day. [5]

In particular, Japan's largest male talent agency, Johnny & Associates Entertainment Company, specializes only in producing male Tarento idols. [15] Accepted into Johnny & Associates in their early teens, these boys, collectively known as 'Johnnys', are trained and promoted to become the next leading singing-acting-commercially successful hit sensations. Almost all can be classified as bishōnen, exhibiting the same physically feminine features combined with a sometimes deliberately ambivalent sexuality or at the very least, a lack of any hint of a relationship to maintain their popular availability.

Current bishōnen examples from the same agency include Tomohisa Yamashita of J-pop group NEWS, Jin Akanishi and Kazuya Kamenashi of KAT-TUN, Takuya Kimura of SMAP, Ryosuke Yamada and Kei Inoo of Hey! Say! JUMP and Jun Matsumoto of Arashi, all of whom are phenomenally successful throughout East Asia by appealing to both younger and older women and whose widely praised, gender-incongruous physical beauty is often deliberately manipulated in terms of role-playing and, most commonly, fanservice.


Besides being a character type, bishōnen is also a distinct art style not usually forgotten in books about drawing manga. In art, bishōnen are usually drawn delicately, with long limbs, silky or flowing hair, [16] and slender eyes with long eyelashes that can sometimes extend beyond the face. The character's "sex appeal" is highlighted through introducing the character by using an "eroticized" full page spread. [17] Characters with "bulging muscles" are rarely considered bishōnen, as they are too masculine. [6]

It is said that Björn Andrésen's appearance as Tadzio in the film Death in Venice inspired many Japanese anime artists, such as Keiko Takemiya, who became known for their depictions of young, effeminate men. [18]

Bishōnen characters are fairly common in manga and anime. Many of the male characters show subtle signs of the bishōnen style, such as slender eyes or a feminine face. [5]

Some manga are completely drawn in the bishōnen style, such as Saint Seiya . bishōnen manga are generally shōjo manga (girls' comics) or yaoi (girls' comics focused on homosexual relationships between beautiful boys), however shōnen manga (boy's comics) may use casts of bishōnen characters for crossover appeal to female readers. [19] Mainstream shounen and seinen fare also often uses such characters as rivals for a traditional masculine protagonist, with some degree of comic relief, or for the blander everyman, whether as the embodiment of his insecurities in a grittier realism, or as a more lighthearted constant reminder of his less than advantageous social status and the constraints thereof. Comics for younger boys tend to use arrogant bishōnen in the role of the recurring minor rivals readers love to hate, though their effeminate good looks there will often appear older, bigger, stronger, and thus in fact more masculine than the commonly shorter and less mature protagonists.

Bishōnen and bishōjo

Bishōjo ('beautiful girl') is often mistakenly considered a parallel of bishōnen, because of the similar construction of the terms. There are major differences between the two aesthetics. The bishōjo aesthetic is aimed at a male audience, and is typically centered on young girls, drawn in a cute, pretty style; and bishōnen is aimed at a female audience, centered on teenage boys, and drawn elegantly. Another common mistake is assuming that the female characters in bishōnen manga and anime are bishōjo. In truth, female characters in bishōnen manga are very different from those in bishōjo; bishōjo females are usually more petite and drawn in a style that is cute rather than beautiful, whereas bishōnen females exhibit the long limbs and elegance of the bishōnen themselves. [12]

Critical attention

Several cultural anthropologists and authors have raised the multifaceted aspect of what bishōnen represents and what it is interpreted as, mostly to fit a particular external viewpoint. [20] Ian Buruma noted that although Western comics for girls also included "impossibly beautiful men" who are clearly masculine and always get the girl in the end, the bishōnen are "more ambivalent" and sometimes get each other. [13]

For Sandra Buckley, bishōnen narratives champion "the imagined potentialities of alternative [gender] differentiations" [21] James Welker describes the bishōnen as being "queer", as the bishōnen is an androgynous aesthete with a feminine soul "who lives and loves outside of the heteropatriarchal world". [22]

Jonathan D. Mackintosh believes that the bishōnen is a "traditional representation of youth", being "interstitial" between both childhood and adulthood and between being male and being female, [23] regardless of the sexual issues.

Ishida Hitoshi makes the case that the image of the bishōnen is more about a grounding in sexuality than a transcendence of it, drawing on the idea of the image as being a refuge for alternative methods of looking at sexual natures, and sexual realities, at least since the 60's, rather than the elegiac aesthetics of usages in an earlier era. [24]

Representations of men in manga by and for men show "an idealized man being ultramasculine and phallic", bishōnen are conversely drawn to "emphasize their beauty and sensuality", and female artists have been said to react against the ultramasculine representation by showing androgynous and "aesthetically beautiful" men. [17]

Ian Buruma, writing in 1984, considered the "bishonen in distress" to be a recurring motif in popular manga. The bishōnen in distress is always rescued by an older, protective, mentor. This scenario has an "unmistakably homoerotic" atmosphere. [13] He also notes that bishōnen must either grow up, or die beautifully. He considers the "worship" of the bishōnen to be the same as that of the sakura, and notes that "death is the only pure and thus fitting end to the perfection of youth." [25]

A similar South Korean aesthetic has been noted in the kkonminam ('flowery pretty boy'). [26]

See also


  1. "飲中八仙歌" ["Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup"] (in Chinese). 宗之瀟灑美少年 [He has Very High color and Beautiful boy.]
  2. 1 2 3 Orbaugh, Sharalyn (2002). Sandra Buckley (ed.). Encyclopedia of Contemporary Japanese Culture. Taylor & Francis. pp. 45–56. ISBN   0-415-14344-6.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Buckley (2002). Encyclopedia of Contemporary Japanese Culture. Taylor & Francis. pp. 188, 522, 553. ISBN   0-415-14344-6.
  4. Tan, Caroline S.L. (2008). "Of Senses and Men's Cosmetics: Sensory Branding in Men's Cosmetics in Japan" (PDF). European Journal of Social Sciences. 6 (1): 7–25. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 December 2008.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Pflugfelder, Gregory M. (1999). Cartographies of desire: male-male sexuality in Japanese discourse, 1600-1950. University of California Press. pp. 221–234. ISBN   0-520-20909-5.
  6. 1 2 Febriani Sihombing. "On The Iconic Difference between Couple Characters in Boys Love Manga".
  7. Pflugfelder, Gregory M. (1999). Cartographies of desire: male-male sexuality in Japanese discourse, 1600-1950. University of California Press. p. 228. ISBN   0-520-20909-5.
  8. Drazen, Patrick (October 2002). '"A Very Pure Thing": Gay and Pseudo-Gay Themes' in Anime Explosion! The What, Why & Wow of Japanese Animation Berkeley, California: Stone Bridge Press pp.91-94. ISBN   1-880656-72-8.
  9. Buruma, Ian (1985) [1984]. A Japanese Mirror: Heroes and Villains of Japanese Culture. Great Britain: Penguin Books. pp. 132–135. ISBN   978-0-14-007498-7.
  10. Miller, Laura. "Extreme Makeover for a Heian-Era Wizard". Mechademia .
  11. Reichert, James Robert (2006). In the Company of Men: Representations of Male-male Sexuality in Meiji Literature. Stanford University Press. pp. 3–4. ISBN   978-0-8047-5214-5.
  12. 1 2 Beauty Up: Exploring Contemporary Japanese Body Aesthetics. Laura Miller. University of California Press, 2006. ISBN   0520245091
  13. 1 2 3 Buruma, Ian (1985) [1984]. A Japanese Mirror: Heroes and Villains of Japanese Culture. Great Britain: Penguin Books. p. 125. ISBN   978-0-14-007498-7.
  14. "Tender Pervert Lyrics". Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  15. "Modern Japan - Entertainment - Johnny's Jimusho". 16 November 2006. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  16. "Short anime glossary [Краткий анимешно-русский разговорник]". anime*magazine (in Russian) (3): 36. 2004. ISSN   1810-8644.
  17. 1 2 Wood, Andrea. (Spring 2006). "Straight" Women, Queer Texts: Boy-Love Manga and the Rise of a Global Counterpublic. WSQ: Women's Studies Quarterly , 34 (1/2), pp. 394-414.
  18. "The adventures of Tadzio in Japan". 7 January 2008. Archived from the original on 7 May 2015. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  19. Thompson, Jason (2007). Manga: The Complete Guide . Del Rey. p. 417. ISBN   0-345-48590-4.
  20. Monnet, Livia (1999). "Montage, cinematic subjectivity and feminism in Ozaki Midori's Drifting in the World of the Seventh Sense". Japan Forum. 11 (1): 57–82. doi:10.1080/09555809908721622.
  21. Buckley, Sandra (1991) "'Penguin in Bondage': A Graphic Tale of Japanese Comic Books", pp. 163-196, In Technoculture. C. Penley and A. Ross, eds. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota ISBN   0-8166-1932-8
  22. Welker, James (2006). "Beautiful, Borrowed, and Bent: "Boys' Love" as Girls' Love in Shōjo Manga". Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. 31 (3): 842. doi:10.1086/498987.
  23. "Intersections: Itō Bungaku and the Solidarity of the Rose Tribes [Barazoku]: Stirrings of Homo Solidarity in Early 1970s Japan". Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  24. The Process of Divergence between 'Men who Love Men' and 'Feminised Men' in Postwar Japanese Media. Ishida Hitoshi and Murakami Takanori. Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context. Issue 12 January 2006.
  25. Buruma, Ian (1985) [1984]. A Japanese Mirror: Heroes and Villains of Japanese Culture. Great Britain: Penguin Books. pp. 130–131. ISBN   978-0-14-007498-7.
  26. "Flower Boys" . Retrieved 30 January 2012.

Related Research Articles

Shōnen manga manga marketed to a male audience aged roughly 13 and up

Shōnen, shonen, or shounen manga is manga aimed at a young teen male target-demographic. The age group varies with individual readers and different magazines, but it is primarily intended for boys between the ages of 12 to 18. The kanji characters (少年) literally mean "boy", and the characters (漫画) means "comic". Thus, the complete phrase means "young person's comic", or simply "boys' comic"; its female equivalent is shōjo manga. Shōnen manga is the most popular form of manga.

Yaoi erotic genre focusing on love between boys

Yaoi, also known as boys' love or BL, is a genre of fictional media originating in Japan that features homoerotic relationships between male characters. It is typically created by women for women and is distinct from homoerotic media marketed to gay male audiences, such as bara, but it can also attract male readers and males can also create them. It spans a wide range of media, including manga, anime, drama CDs, novels, games, and fan production. Boys love and its abbreviation BL are the generic terms for this kind of media in Japan and have, in recent years, become more commonly used in English as well. However, yaoi remains more generally prevalent in English.

Yuri (genre) manga and anime genre

Yuri, also known by the wasei-eigo construction Girls' Love, is a Japanese jargon term for content and a genre involving lesbian relationships or homoeroticism in light novels, manga, anime, video games and related Japanese media. Yuri focuses on the sexual orientation or the romantic orientation aspects of the relationship, or both, the latter of which is sometimes called shōjo-ai by Western fandom.

Shotacon Japanese slang describing an attraction to young boys

Shotacon, short for Shōtarō complex, is Japanese slang describing an attraction to young boys. It refers to a genre of manga and anime wherein pre-pubescent or pubescent male characters are depicted in a suggestive or erotic manner, whether in the obvious role of object of attraction, or the less apparent role of "subject". In some stories, the young male character is paired with a male, usually in a homoerotic manner. In others, he is paired with a female, which the general community would call straight shota. It can also apply to postpubescent characters with neotenic features that would make them appear to be younger than they are. The phrase is a reference to the young male character Shōtarō (正太郎) from Tetsujin 28-go. The equivalent term for attraction to young girls is lolicon.

Seinen manga manga marketed to adolescent boys and men

Seinen manga (青年漫画) are manga marketed toward young adult men. In Japanese, the word "seinen" literally means "youth," but the term "seinen manga" is also used to describe the target audience of comics like Weekly Manga Times and Weekly Manga Goraku which are aimed at men from their 20s to their 50s. Seinen manga are distinguished from shōnen manga which are for younger boys, although some seinen manga like xxxHolic share some similarities with "shōnen" manga. Seinen manga can focus on action, politics, science fiction, fantasy, relationships, sports, or comedy. The female equivalent to seinen manga is josei manga.

Lolicon Japanese media centered around prepubescent, pubescent, or post-pubescent underage girls

Lolicon, also romanized as lolikon or rorikon, is Japanese discourse or media focusing on the attraction to young or prepubescent girls. The term lolicon is a portmanteau of the phrase "Lolita complex"; it describes an attraction to young or prepubescent girls, an individual with such an attraction, or lolicon manga or lolicon anime, a genre of manga and anime wherein childlike female characters are often depicted in an "erotic-cute" manner, in an art style reminiscent of the shōjo manga style.


Bishōjo is a Japanese term for a beautiful young girl, usually below young adult age. Bishōjo is not listed as a word in the prominent Japanese dictionary Kōjien. A variant of the word, biyōjo (美幼女) refers to a pretty girl before the age of adolescence.

<i>Bishōjo</i> game Japanese video game with attractive girls

A bishōjogame, or gal game, is "a type of Japanese video game centered on interactions with attractive girls". These games are a subgenre of dating sims targeted towards a heterosexual male audience.

<i>Moe</i> (slang) Japanese slang expression of fascination or infatuation

Moe is a Japanese slang loanword that refers to feelings of strong affection mainly towards characters in anime, manga, video games, and other media directed at the otaku market. Moe, however, has also gained usage to refer to feelings of affection towards any subject. Moe is related to neoteny and the feeling of "cuteness" a character can evoke. The word moe originated in the late 1980s and early 1990s in Japan and is of uncertain origin, although there are several theories on how it came into use. Moe characters have expanded through Japanese media, and have contributed positively to the Japanese economy. Contests, both online and in the real world, exist for moe-styled things including one run by one of the Japanese game rating boards. Various notable commentators such as Tamaki Saitō, Hiroki Azuma, and Kazuya Tsurumaki have also given their take on moe, and its meaning.

Glossary of anime and manga Wikimedia list article

This is a list of terms that are specific to anime and manga.

History of manga

The history of manga is said to originate from scrolls dating back to the 12th century, and it is believed they represent the basis for the right-to-left reading style. The word first came into common usage in the late 18th century. Manga is a Japanese term that can be translated as "comic"; Historians and writers on manga history have described two broad and complementary processes shaping modern manga. Their views differ in the relative importance they attribute to the role of cultural and historical events following World War II versus the role of pre-war, Meiji, and pre-Meiji Japanese culture and art.

Oscar François de Jarjayes

Brigadier Oscar François de Jarjayes is one of the main characters in the manga/anime series The Rose of Versailles, created by Riyoko Ikeda.

Yaoi fandom

Yaoi fandom consists of the readers of yaoi, a genre of male-male romance narratives aimed at those who participate in communal activities organized around yaoi, such as attending conventions, maintaining or posting to fansites, creating fan fiction or fan art, etc. In the mid-1990s, estimates of the size of the Japanese yaoi fandom were at 100,000-500,000 people, but in 2008, despite increased knowledge of the genre among the general public, readership remains limited. English-language fan translations of From Eroica with Love circulated through the slash fiction community in the 1980s, forging a link between slash fiction fandom and Yaoi fandom.

Futanari is the Japanese word for hermaphroditism, which is also used in a broader sense for androgyny.

Japan has a long history of LGBT culture reflected in the way queer culture operates in Japan today. Much of the modern entertainment and media industries feature and appeal to LGBT content, both for LGBT and non LGBT audiences.


Bijin (美人) is a Japanese term which literally means "a beautiful person" and is synonymous with bijyo. Girls are usually called bishōjo (美少女), while men are bidanshi (美男子) and boys are bishōnen (美少年). The term originally derives from Chinese word 美人, the word 美人 is used widely in several Asian countries including China, South Korea, North Korea, and Vietnam.


In contemporary Japanese culture, otokonoko, or otoko no musume, are men who cross-dress as women.

Ikemen Japanese term used to refer to metrosexuals.

The term ikemen is derived from the Japanese words ikeru or iketeru and menzu. Ikeru and iketeru mean "cool", "good" and "exciting", while menzu stands for "men". This term has been used to reference good looking men featured in Japanese pop culture.

Shōjo manga manga aimed at a teenage female target-demographic readership

Shōjo, shojo, or shoujo manga is manga aimed at a teenage female target-demographic readership. The name romanizes the Japanese 少女 (shōjo), literally 'young woman'. Shōjo manga covers many subjects in a variety of narrative styles, from historical drama to science fiction, often with a focus on romantic relationships or emotions. Strictly speaking, however, shōjo manga does not comprise a style or genre, but rather indicates a target demographic.