For the past few years, there’s been this bubbling undercurrent of fascination with the “otokonoko” in Japan. I think it’s always been hanging around the edges of BL, lurking in the background, but has been getting a little more mainstream currency thanks to artists like Hideyoshico and Fumiko Fumi. It also helps that the art magazine Eureka did a special otokonoko issue a couple years back, bringing the boys who dress as girls more into the public eye. These days, you can go to specialized otokonoko bars and cafés or even transform into one yourself with the help of specialized shops. Naturally, most of this action is where the action usually is, in Tokyo, but you can still see otokonoko on TV across the country, and even outside the capital, you can find places that welcome joso along with the larger LGBTQ community.
The TV appearances and things are easy to dismiss in a way because it’s sort of a specialty of Japan (and so many other places) to take the “novel” and hold it up to the spotlight while ignoring the actual reality of that lived experience in Japanese society (think Matsuko Deluxe vs the general trans experience or Naomi Watanabe vs an average fat girl or Hard Gay vs actual gay life). So of course, with the increasing awareness of otokonoko, a spot opened up at the talent table for wide show appearances, and stepping up to fill that seat was Kaoru Oshima. Originally an actor in gay porn, Oshima started living the otokonoko life, dressing and presenting as a woman full-time, and became the first otokonoko actress in the world of Japanese porn. Eventually, he left the world of porn to become a full-time writer and TV personality. (more…)