The continuum of male beauty in contemporary Japan

Authored by: Masafumi Monden

The Routledge Companion to Gender and Japanese Culture

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138895201
eBook ISBN: 9781315179582
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315179582-27

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Abstract

This chapter examines male beauty in contemporary Japan, specifically related to the fully clothed body. It argues that male beauty is often understood, especially outside Japan, in a binary of muscular maturity and slender youthfulness. However, in reality, male beauty is a continuum, as recent TV commercials created for the Shiseido men’s grooming product line Uno (2016–2017) indicate. These advertisements offer a male image that is situated somewhere in the middle of the continuum between a rugged, mature, and brawny image thought to be preferred by men, to the slender, delicate, and youthful images designed to appeal to women. While such appreciation may depend on the sexual orientation and class of those evaluating beauty, the different modes of male beauty in Japanese popular culture, this chapter proposes, also signal a degree of flexibility in appreciating male beauty in Japan.

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