Where exactly is Boys love cafe in Japan? What is Boys love cafe? why BL is so big in Japan?
Ever heard of BL school cafe?
BL stands for "Boys love". One popular genre for many girls (!) in Japan (and the world). This cafe opened based on the concept of the young guys in love each other. You as a customer go to the cafe as if you go to the school.
There are 3 grades in school where you can tell by the color of the tie the students (cafe staff) wear. The 1st grade is red, 2nd, blue and 3rd black.
Upon your first visit, you get a student card and start from the first grade. The rule is that you cannot casual talk to the students above your grade. It is kinda role play. The more you go to the school (cafe), the higher your grade will be.
The cafe serves you not only coffee, but also alcohol (what a school!).
The school organizes some event such as school excursion to the strawberry firm etc. from time to time and you can join it.
One important rule in the cafe. You are not allowed to touch the boys there! You can talk to them and get served but no touch. Or you may be evicted from the school!
Video from Osaka BL school (this school closed)
Otome Road in Ikebukuro
The cafe is located near to the Otome road ( 乙女ロード ).
It is the area for Otaku girls. It is the street on the west side of Sunshin 60 building in Ikebukuro. It is around 200 meters. It used to be just male dominated otaku/geeks but from around 2004 when the anime goods shop, Animate, started targeting more female customers and another shop, Toranoana, followed the suit.
Unlike Nakano Broadway or Akihabara, Ikebukuro has more cafes and shops around to sell female clothes this also attracts more female.
Today one big portion of the females hanging around in the area is called " Fujoshi / 腐女子". It means "rotten girl' in Japanese but actually means those girls who are into boys love stuff/yaoi fandom.
Location of BL school cafe
Ikebukuro BL school cafe
Fee: 1000JPY per hour and one drink to order. After this one hour, 500JPY per 30 mins.
Open: March 30 - May 31, 2017
Address: 2nd floor Iwashita bldg (岩下ビル), 3-9-13 Higashi Ikebukuro, Tokyo
How to get there? 10 min walk from the east exit of Ikebukuro station (in front of Teikyo Heisei univ.)
Contact: 03 5985 4157
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Why Boys love (BL) is so big in Japan?
Boys love culture is deeply rooted in Japan.
Japan's fascination with Boys' Love (BL), a genre that explores romantic relationships between male characters, has deep historical roots and a significant cultural impact. From the Edo period's "kosho" system to the modern BL manga and anime industry, the genre has evolved, capturing the imaginations of diverse audiences. This article delves into the historical origins, cultural significance, and recent challenges faced by the BL culture in Japan, emphasizing the need to address real-world issues while appreciating its artistic merits.
Historical Roots: The Kosho System in the Edo Period
During the Edo period (1603-1868), the "kosho" system involved young male assistants who served powerful figures, such as the shogun. These relationships often transcended professional boundaries, emphasizing loyalty and affection. This historical practice contributed to the romanticization of male-male relationships in Japanese culture, laying the groundwork for the development of the BL genre in later years.
The Evolution of Boys' Love Culture
The BL genre gained significant momentum in the 1970s and 1980s with the works of pioneers like Keiko Takemiya and Moto Hagio. Their manga, such as "Kaze to Ki no Uta" and "Thomas no Shinzou," explored themes of love and friendship between male characters, attracting a devoted following. The 1990s witnessed the rise of popular BL manga artists like Kaoru Kurimoto and Kazuma Kodaka, further solidifying the genre's presence in the Japanese literary landscape.
BL in Popular Culture: Impact and Diversity
In recent decades, BL has expanded beyond manga and anime, infiltrating mainstream media and pop culture. The genre has inspired numerous live-action adaptations, drama series, and even stage plays. Works like the manga series "Gravitation" by Maki Murakami and the anime "Yuri!!! on ICE" have gained international acclaim, showcasing the diversity of BL narratives and characters.
Challenges and Controversies: The Johnny's & Associates Scandal
Despite its cultural significance, the BL industry has faced controversies. In 2021, the Japanese entertainment industry was rocked by a scandal involving Johnny's & Associates, a leading talent agency. Allegations of sexual harassment and exploitation within the agency shed light on the darker aspects of the industry, prompting discussions about the treatment of young male performers and the need for systemic reforms. The scandal already was out in 1960s when the founder Johnny Kitagawa, who was alleged to have raped many boys, started his career as an agent but very few media talked about it most likely out of the pressure of the power of the talent agency which backed Johnny Kitagawa. In 2023 the agency announced to change its name to Smile-UP to provide support for the sexual abuse victims.
Addressing Real-World Issues: Advocacy and Empowerment
In response to these challenges, advocacy groups and activists within Japan have been working tirelessly to raise awareness about harassment and promote a safe working environment for all individuals. Legal reforms and increased accountability measures are being pursued to protect performers and staff from exploitation and abuse. Additionally, there is a growing emphasis on mental health support and counseling services for those affected by harassment.
The enduring popularity of Boys' Love in Japan is a testament to its cultural and artistic significance. Rooted in historical practices like the Edo period's kosho system, the genre has evolved, capturing the hearts of diverse audiences around the world. However, it is essential to acknowledge the real-world challenges faced by individuals within the BL industry, such as the recent scandals involving Johnny's & Associates.
By appreciating the historical context, cultural impact, and artistic merit of BL, while actively addressing issues of harassment and exploitation, Japan can continue to celebrate the genre's creative expression while ensuring the well-being and dignity of all individuals involved. Through education, awareness, and systemic reforms, Japan can navigate the complexities of the Boys' Love culture, fostering a safe and inclusive environment for everyone within the industry.
There are several Butler cafes in Japan.
You may also visit crossdress cafes in Japan.
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