Tokyo BL Diary

October 2012

The Diary: Month 1

In which I skulk around Book Off when my friends aren’t around. Also, the time I managed to forget the release date of my favourite manga.

…I visited the Book Off with two fellow gaijin friends — neither of whom are aware of my, uh, preferences. For boy-on-boy smut. Those preferences. Anyway, as we trawled the store’s top floor, full of shelf after shelf of shounen and shoujo manga with not a glimpse of yaoi in sight, I was considering blurting out what I was really looking for there. That was until one of my friends crept up to me, her voice lowered in a half-horrified, half-salacious whisper… [read more]

November 2012

The Diary: Month 2.1

In which Nakano’s enormous collection of Mandarake shops is explored, I am accidentally trapped in a hentai shop, and Western fandom doujinshi are strangely hilarious.

Like a splotch on my otaku credentials, I’d never once visited the flagship branch of Mandarake (まんだらけ) in the Tokyo ward of Nakano before. So after a work week that left me feeling like a zombie, and Saturday morning grocery shopping that left me feeling like a zombie weighed down by pineapples, I took a rapid express to Nakano. I’ll be honest, though — it was a bit seedier than I thought… [read more]

The Diary: Month 2.2

In which Animate open yet another flagship store in Ikebukuro and the annual Animate Girls’ Festival (AGF) leaves fans queueing in the rain and mobbing every Starbucks in the vicinity.

So less than a month since I last visited the flagship Animate store in Ikebukuro — and now it’s gone. Kinda. [read more]

December 2012

The Diary: Month 3.1

The perils of the common Japanese practice of wrapping your books in paper. Also: reading in public.

One of the things I love most about Japan is that practically everyone is a reader. On trains, waiting at bus stops, eating in restaurants — someone nearby will almost certainly be reading a book. But something tourists are quick to notice is that you often can’t tell what people are reading. [read more]

The Diary: Month 3.2

Harry Potter doujinshi. Or: The Harry Potter Slash Pairing Doujinshi Guessing Game.

…retailers like Mandarake Shibuya stock a goodly supply of secondhand HP comics. Something you’ll probably notice right away, though, is that most of the manga-ka have been fairly, uh, imaginative with the appearances of J.K. Rowling’s characters. In fact, strip away the pairing information on the doujinshi itself, and you might have a hard time figuring out just which wizard is boning which witch. [read more]

January 2013

The Diary: Month 4

Trekking out to Shinjuku’s flagship Kinokuniya bookstore in the middle of a snowstorm. Don’t try this at home.

January 14 was both Japan’s Coming of Age Day (成人の日) and the day I opened my curtain in the morning to discover the driveway of my apartment complex covered in a thick blanket of some mysterious white substance — it actually took my Antipodean brain a few clicks to realise it was snow…[read more]

February 2013

The Diary: Month 5

Josh Lanyon’s m/m novel Fair Game makes its localised way into Tokyo bookstores — is this the beginning of a new wave of original slashy English-language novels breaking into the Japanese market?

So it took an embarrassingly long time for me to realise that all the people carrying around bags with the bookstore chain Junkudo’s logo on them in my neighbourhood meant it was likely that a branch of that bookstore was nearby…[read more]

March 2013

The Diary: Month 6 

I skip town and head to Taiwan for a trip around the island in search of — you guessed it — BL.

This month I was lucky enough to have the time and money to re-visit one of my favourite places in Asia, Taiwan. (The fact that the manga there is plentiful and cheap is purely coincidental, you understand). In between eating myself towards walrus-like routundness and brushing up on my Mandarin, I also haunted my usual BL stores in order to update my guide to local shops that stock yaoi. And, to the surprise of no one, pick up some new volumes along the way…[read more]

April 2013

The Diary: Month 7

Reports online suggest there is no new chapter of my favourite manga, Finder by Yamane Ayano. I console myself by buying crepes and smutty secretary doujinshi, but in the end, I needn’t have worried :3

Somehow it’s already the end of April, and it feels like all I’ve done this month is get back into the swing of things in Tokyo while simultaneously trying to stopper my ears so my exhausted, semi-melted brain doesn’t leak out… [read more]

June 2013

The Diary: Month 9.1

I visit Tokyo’s secondhand bookstore district, Jimbocho.

…After tramping around for a while in the repressively muggy weather, we realised there was no way we’d be able to explore every bookstore in the area in one day — especially after we stopped at an antiquarian bookseller specialising in books on fine arts, and then spent half an hour rifling through their collection of Japanese prints.  [read more]

The Diary: Month 9.2

In which it is proven that there’s a shrine for everything.

So it turns out I’m not the only one who thinks phallic vegetables are a great stand in for that particular part of the male anatomy. [read more]

July 2013

The Diary: Month 10

In which some friends finally wrangle me into traditional Japanese clothes.

I’ve come to realise that reading manga only gives you a very limited — and sometimes even misleading — window into Japanese culture. [read more]

The Diary: The Finale

In which I bid farewell to Tokyo — for now.

At the farewell dinner for me and some other colleagues who were shortly to be leaving Tokyo, our boss suddenly took out a plastic bag and rustled around inside it for a bit, before proferring it to us. “Take one,” he said, without further explanation. [read more]