2010 in review

Thanks, WordPress and my readers!

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 230,000 times in 2010. If it were an exhibit at The Louvre Museum, it would take 10 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 273 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 717 posts. There were 341 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 17mb. That’s about 7 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was July 5th with 3 views. The most popular post that day was Hot or not: Kobayashi Takeru?.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were julieinjapan.com, greeneyedgeisha.blogspot.com, sticky.queerclick.com, blogger.com, and dontstoptiligetenough.blogspot.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for yakuza, anderson cooper boyfriend, yakuza tattoo, takeru kobayashi, and narimiya hiroki.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Hot or not: Kobayashi Takeru? June 2009


Yakuza skin August 2009
1 comment


Anderson Cooper’s boyfriend: a huge meat head? November 2009


Narimiya Hiroki August 2009


Fundoshi v Fujoshi April 2009

Saito Takumi (斎藤工) in Boys Love

Saito Takumi (斎藤工) in Boy's Love

Thank you, Pu, for bring up Saito Takumi (斎藤工). This is an alluring movie poster. Have any of my readers seen this movie? Is “Boys Love” for fujoshi, gays, or both?

I read on Wikipedia that there are two versions, both involving “unexpected love” between young men and precocious high school boys. Is this a jailbait story? Any reviews from my readers?

40,000 Page Views!

40,000 Page Views

Thank you, dear readers, for provoking this simple blog to surpass 40,000 hits. What started out as a personal reflection on some favorite topics and a way to stay in touch with old friends has exploded into an online sensation focused on Japanese male vanity, delinquency, fashion, slang, and always big men’s hair.

Through this blog, I have met fujoshi from throughout the English-reading world, young queens from Down Under and elsewhere, and the greatest Japanese blogger about otaku words, while simultaneously sharing inappropriate topics with my mother and in-laws. 失礼しました!

Most recently search traffic for Narimiya Hiroki has helped blasted traffic up to 7,000 views in August alone. Other popular posts include Mother-Daughter Boys Love, Japanese Men Behaving Badly, Paying $75 million for Her Ass?, Fundoshi v. Fujoshi. Popular searches include Madonna Ass, middle age gay, Yu Darvish, host Japanese, naked athletes, and the like. I can only imagine what those who have found my blog searching for more benign topics like Cindy McCain and Betty Ford have discovered reading this moe-focused blog.

Please let me know what you think of the blog, any suggestions, and any topics you’d like to know more about. Thank you very much for your kind attention to my often bizarre interests.

Fundoshi v Fujoshi

Fujoshi, illustration

Another simple mistake in Japanese. Inquiring about the cultural activities of takenoko gathering, I innocently asked my in-laws, “Will there be any fujoshi?” Ooops. What I meant to ask was about fundoshi.

Above, a fujoshi, an anime and manga-addicted girl who enjoys boy-on-boy romance and sex stories known as BL (boys love). Below, fundoshi, a ritual loin cloth worn by men for some religious holidays.


Finally, one more fujoshi image, courtesy of recent commenter and blogger, imbeleth.

Fan girl ramblings blog

“How come I am uke?!”

Bangin cosplays Kyon on Otome Road

On Monday, I had the supreme pleasure of helping my internet friend Bangin, the master teacher of otaku vocabulary for the English-speaking world, cosplay Kyon from The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi.

Bangin’s idea was to have Kyon, the narrator, provide a tour of Otome Road, the fujoshi (female geek) world capital in Ikebukero. My role was to take hundreds of photos. It was great fun since I’ve long admired Bangin’s blog, and I’d watched seven English subbed episodes online between the time he asked me and when we did the cosplay.

A brief summary of the manga and anime story: Kyon, the narrator, is a high school freshman who is trying to grow up. He falls under the spell of a dominant female classmate who organizes the SOS Brigade to make contact with extraterrestrials, time travelers, and ESP experts. Basically, she’s looking for magic in the mundane world, a lovely concept. The story has plenty of otaku moe (school girls in uniform, including one who is used as sexual bait to gain a computer, new members and attention), and a slash fan story of Kyon’s romance with the “mysterious (male) transfer student Koizumi.”

My National Science Foundation and Fulbright-sponsored university research with Rio de Janeiro drag queens in the early 1990s only partly prepared me for the role of cosplay photographer. Make-up, costume, fantasy, role-playing, utter seriousness, a depth of knowledge and passion– all to be expected.

What surprised me was the concern to not be “too loud” or too noticed while performing. I had thought it would be fun to interact with the butler cafe doorman, or the many fujoshi pulling their wheelie bags full of manga and doujinshi (fan slash manga). This was not Bangin’s idea at all. And, oddly, no fujoshi approached us to ask about Kyon.

Here you can read Bangin’s post about Otome Road. It’s even funnier than I anticipated because Bangin writes the whole travelogue in Kyon’s voice– being “forced” by Haruhi, and warned by Koizumi about the catastrophe of closed spaces. His introduction ends with, “Today is going to be my worst day in all of my life. Will you follow me? I will show around.” There are many photos, observations and explanations!

The finale of the tour is very amusing. Across from the dozens of shops catering to fujoshi is a small, somewhat uncared-for-park, where the young customers open up their purchases (and homeless people make their home, which reminded me of San Francisco).

The photo at the top of the post shows Kyon’s shock and horror that he is the subject of a Koizumi x Kyon doujinshi. Bangin provided the quote, “How come I am uke?!”

Nakano Broadway

Nakano Broadway

Ah, Nakano Broadway! You have your own mascot Pipi, just like the Police, the Post Office, and every other institution in this lucky nation. While your showing your age, more or less the same as this author’s, your low-ceilings, lack of windows, and hundreds of tiny shops catering to local, national and international otaku (nerds) make me happy to call Nakano home. You never fail to provide an abundance of shopping, from boy-band memoriabilia to fujoshi comics, costume shops, and the home-roasted coffee from the always immaculate sisters. And the crowds you attract make me feel down right understated.

Do you have any new year’s resolutions? My number 1 resolution is to get fat. I’m also trying to improve my Japanese, learn some more about ceramics, and explore the many charms of Nakano.

Boys school and butler cafes, open for men, too!

During my visit to Ikebukero, I descended the stairs to the entrance of Swallowtail, the famous butler cafe. I had a delightful chat with the butler door man, who told me in a gentle and soft voice that reservations are required. Or so I think.

Swallowtail butler cafe

Thanks to an internet tip, I also learned that Shibuya now has a European-style boys boarding school cafe, Edelstein, also aimed at fujoshi (腐女子), or female otaku into boys love. Here’s a photo of the interior. I need to find some girlish company to make a reservation and check it out.

Edelstein, Euro style boys boarding school cafe for girls

Thanks again, Adrik, for letting me know that men are welcome at these “girls’ cafes.” Adrik, if you’re in Tokyo before May 23, let’s meet there!

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Ikebukero, Otome Road, home of fujoshi

To answer the my question about mother-daughter boys love, last Sunday, in the midst of Golden Week, I made a solo pilgrimage to Ikebukero. I was looking for Otome Road (おとめどり、Maiden Road), the epicenter for fujoshi (腐女子、or female otaku who are boys love fans). Despite an abundance of maps, Otome Road is not listed as such, so I had to find my way with the help of Wikipedia’s directions.

Getting closer, I ran into this costumed character promoting a manga and game store. Note that she’s standing next to a “love” motel; the tell-tale sign is the “rest” vs “stay” prices. Am I too old to be a maiden? Fortunately, Elfin Leid made no judgments.
Elfin Leid

Passing under a towering highway overpass, I was on the western side of Sunshine 60, once the tallest building in East Asia, when I saw the huge Animate manga/anime store. I recognized it from the Canadian geek’s web post.

Soon I braved the narrow staircase and explored five of the eight levels. I learned that “adult” meant girlie erotic art, while “girl” meant boys love. Of course! The store was mobbed with teen and pre-teen girls. Yes, there were a few mothers my age with their pre-teen daughters. Lovely.

Animate, Ikebukero

Feeling overwhelmed, I went to the mall below Sunshine 60 for some lunch. I learned that bad tonkatsu (とんかつ)is almost as bad as cheap sushi. Leaving the restaurant, I noticed the atrium was packed with people watching a 30 something “school girl” with a deep voice. Turns out it was famous Maeda Ken. A stranger helpfully confirmed that he’s “sort of” famous and a guy; he then explained he was “gay,” which he then “softened” to “maybe bisexual.”

Maeda Ken

Back on Otome Road, I ran into this strange couple. My poor Japanese made me stumble but I finally learned that they are not interpreting famous manga characters (cosplay) but rather creating original characters.

Original characters, Ikebukero

I toured K-Books (several shops on the same street) and a costume shop. Since you’re not supposed to snap photos in the bookstores (oops, I guess I violated that policy once), I calmly took this Boys Love poster photo outdoors. It always amazes me how much Japan celebrates reading!

Boy Love

Finally I ran across this poster for a new super-tranny band, called SuG. Rock on, fujoshi!
Heavy Positive Rock

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Mother-Daughter Boys Love

The last post was unusually wholesome, with the image of the pious family, respect for dead zoo animals, and bi-national friendship. Welcome President Hu Jintao to Japan!

Now back to the main themes of this blog. While the majority of otaku, or anime/manga geeks, are men, there’s a huge female sub-genre called Boy Love (BL) or yayoi, produced by and for women focused on sex and romance between men. Many say that yaoi stands for ama nashi, ochi nashi, imi nashi, or “no climax, no resolution, no meaning.” Others say it’s an acronym for “yamete, oshiri itai” – “Stop it, my butt hurts!” Female BL fans are known as fujoshi 腐女子, and Bangin Sensei provides sub-groups depending on age and marital status. This genre goes back to the late 1970s.


While male otaku congregate in Akhihabara (also famous as electronic city for all the gadgets for sale), fujoshi visit specialized stores in Ikebukuro on Otome (Maiden) Road. In addition to books, dvds, figurines, etc, there’s even a butler cafe named Swallowtail, the female equivalent of the maid’s cafe.

Swallowtail butler cafe in Ikebukero

I am planning to visit in the next few days during the Golden Week holiday. Back to the promised family theme, I was struck by this quote about the customers from Ayako Abe at K-Books, which runs manga/anime stores and the cafe:

Our shops’ prime target customers are not women in their teens and 20s, but those in their 30s and 40s who got used to ‘boys’ love’ comics while they were young, and come to the stores with their daughters.”

Wow! What’s the right age for a mother to introduce her daughter to the wonders of boy love? 5? 8? 12? I can’t wait to visit Maid’s Road and find out!!

More links:

Boys on Boys on Film terminology list and Film Reviews

Nanya’s BL terminology list

Canadian comic geek Christopher Butcher’s visit to Otomo Road in Ikebukuro (lots of photos)

Jeeves takes Japan: Time magazine article on Swallowtail

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