In 2018, two publications emerging from my research on Japanese gay media were published.
The first was a book chapter entitled “Finding the Law: through creating and consuming gay manga in Japan: from heteronormativity to queer activism” forms part of the edited collection Law and Justice in Japanese Popular Culture: From crime fighting robots to duelling pocket monsters. Marrying my ethnography of Shinjuku Ni-chome (and a particular incident surrounding a controversial public advertisement) to a focus group discussion of the work of gay manga artist Tagame Gengoroh, the chapter investigates how consuming and producing “gay manga” led Japanese individuals to “find the law” and understand their positioning within legal structures that privilege heteronormativity.
The second was an article entitled “Cosmopolitan English, traditional Japanese: Reading language desire into the signage of Tokyo’s gay district” in the journal Linguistic Landscape. Here is the abstract:
The Linguistic Landscape of Tokyo’s premier gay district, Shinjuku Ni-chōme, contains much English-language signage. Previously described in touristic literature as marking out spaces for foreign gay men, this article draws upon an ethnographic study of how signage produces queer space in Japan to argue that English instead constructs a sense of cosmopolitan worldliness. The ethnography also reveals that participants within Ni-chōme’s gay bar sub-culture contrast this cosmopolitan identity with a “traditional” identity indexed by Japanese-language signage. In exploring how Japanese men navigate Ni-chōme’s signage, this article deploys Piller and Takahashi’s (2006) notion of “language desire” to investigate the role of LL in influencing individual queer men’s sense(s) of self. This article thus broadens the focus of LL research to account for how engagement with an LL may impact identity construction, with an emphasis placed on how learning to “read” an LL influences the formation of sexual identities.