Japan Nakama | Japanese men’s magazines: a “relaxed” perspective


Going through the three aforementioned magazines, the presence of various figures and races is noticeable. In popeye, the majority of the models are Caucasian or black. In No-no for menmodels lean more towards Euro-American and Eurasian, as well as some Japanese.

In Beautiful boys, the presence of Japanese models and Asian features is more noticeable. The immediate conclusion would be to relate this to the colonial mentality – the belief that people and things from the West are far superior to their Asian counterparts.

And that wouldn’t be completely wrong, given that popeye was first launched as a lifestyle magazine promoting trending American lifestyle and sports articles.

However, upon closer inspection, there are some differences in clothing style between the photographs of these different races. For example, Euro-American men tend to be presented in more conservative and neat clothes. In contrast, photographs of Japanese men appear in more flamboyant and colorful styles. Whether these truly reflect the fashion of the countries or not, these differences merely serve as a reminder to their readers – their fashion culture is not entirely standardized to that of the rest of the world. Therefore, the juxtaposition tells them that they have their own culture and that there are other cultures.

Another more practical reason for this coexistence? Advertising. It can be as simple as Japanese advertisers preferring Japanese features to model their products, while Western advertisers prefer Western models to convey their values. However, what is most remarkable is that despite the presence of non-Japanese elements in mainstream Japanese media, they are still largely influenced by Japanese culture. Thus, the image of America and Europe in Japan is imaginary.

The most significant difference? Finesse. Of the various images of masculinity in Japan, the most compelling seems to be the slender, almost androgynous body. It’s a contrast to the overtly muscular characters that still adorn the covers of popular Western magazines.


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