Japanese Literature discussion

Japanese literature in general > Japanese lgbt books?

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message 1: by Book Crumpet (new)

Book Crumpet hey,
just wondered if anyone could recommend some good Japanese LGBTQIA authors?
(I've heard of Banana Yoshimoto's 'Kitchen', but was also curious about any other writers there may be.)

thanks :)

message 2: by Scott (new)

Scott I have lost track of what all those letters stand for but The Cage of Zeus may be of interest.

message 3: by Mat (new)

Mat Chiappe | 2 comments You can try the 17th century "The Great Mirror of Male Love" of Ihara Saikaku. Also, there a book of critic Stephen Miller called "Partings at Dawn" that is basically an antology of gay literature in Japan (link bellow). You can also try "Almost Transparent Blue", of Ryu Murakami, though it's not exactly LGBT.


message 4: by David (new)

David | 22 comments Yukio Mishima? Too obvious? Forbidden Colors? Shiro Hamao and his The Devil's Disciple is worth a look. Was Hori Tatsuo gay? His "Les joues en feu" (available in The Showa Anthology: Modern Japanese Short Stories) feels like Ōgai Mori's Vita Sexualis meeting Mishima's Confessions of a Mask ... and Rampo Edogawa was gay, wasn't he?

message 5: by Sean (last edited Jan 23, 2015 10:20AM) (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 11 comments One thing to bear in mind is that the yuri (lesbian) and yaoi (gay male) genres in Japan are generally aimed at the opposite sexes. It's so common, in fact, that there's a term for women who read yaoi (fujoshi, or rotten girls) and many manga aimed at men will often include homoerotic subtext to appeal to them.

A lot of what gets published in English is in the form of comics. Probably the most notable yaoi comic is The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio, which is one of the seminal works of the genre. There's also an entire publishing house devoted to yaoi comics.

On the yuri side, there are Girl Friends and Kisses, Sighs, and Cherry Blossom Pink by Milk Morinaga, Citrus by Saburo Uta, Whispered Words by Takashi Ikeda, and Sweet Blue Flowers by Takako Shimura. Shimura's work is the least exploitational of these, and she's also written a series called Wandering Son: about a pair of transgendered children growing up and coming to terms with their sexuality.

In terms of prose fiction, apart from a handful of yaoi novels I've seen in the Kindle store (and which mostly sound like Harlequin romances with the protagonists gender flipped), there's not a lot. Kamikaze Girls by Novala Takemoto isn't explicitly a lesbian romance, but it's hard to read the relationship between the main characters as anything else. (There's another Takemoto book called Emily that's more direct in its dealing with homosexuality, but unfortunately the publisher only made it available on the Sony Ebook Store, which no longer exists.)

Then there's the dystopian No.6 series by Atsuko Asano which features a gay romance as part of the plot. It's never been officially released in English (though the manga adaptation has), but there's a fan translation available. The same site also contains a tranlsated yaoi novel Hako no Naka (In the Box).

message 6: by Carola (last edited Jan 23, 2015 03:03PM) (new)

Carola (carola-) | 119 comments Great question :) I'm seconding the works of Yukio Mishima.

Others that I know of:

The Cage of Zeus by Sayuri Ueda

LGBT+ character (often not even the main character):
Hardboiled and Hard Luck by Banana Yoshimoto
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami
Real World by Natsuo Kirino

Sparkling Rain: And Other Fiction From Japan Of Women Who Love Women
Partings at Dawn: An Anthology of Japanese Gay Literature

Would be great to make a Listopia of this (although I fear it would be cluttered with yaoi/yuri/shojoai/shonenai manga...)

message 7: by Eadweard (new)

Eadweard | 3 comments It's not literature but you should look up "Funeral Parade of Roses".

message 8: by Carola (new)

Carola (carola-) | 119 comments I've taken the liberty to create a list on Listopia :) Please add any other suggestions you've got!
(sorry, I've excluded manga...)


message 9: by David (new)

David | 22 comments Do we include books where young men do stuff to each other but they probably think they're firmly hetero? Like Vita Sexualis?

message 10: by Book Crumpet (last edited Jan 26, 2015 07:37AM) (new)

Book Crumpet Thank you so much for these fantastic responses! I'm so heartened to read them, and will definitely be adding a lot of the suggested books to my reading list :D
The Listopia idea is a great too!


message 11: by Nocturnalux (new)

Nocturnalux | 12 comments This thread already has plenty of great recommendations. I'd like to add Ishikawa Taiga's ボクの彼氏はどこにいる? Boku no kareshi wa doko ni iru? . I do not think it's been translated and it seems more of a memoir than a novel proper but it covers Taiga's experience as a gay person growing up in a country that is less than tolerant and his activism and political career as one of the few and first openly homosexual politician in Japan.

message 12: by Bill (new)

Bill Johnston | 662 comments Kawabata's Beauty and Sadness is about a woman living with her young female lover and protege, visited by the man who loved her in her youth.

message 13: by lazycalm (new)

lazycalm (onlyshallow) | 1 comments What about Quicksand by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki? :)

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