The Study of Yuri, Part 2: Akogare ~ On the Edge of Desire

September 2nd, 2012

In Part 1 on the Study of Yuri, I introduced what I consider to be the origin of what will later be called “Yuri” in a novel entitled Yaneura no Nishojo. During the same period in which she found success with this novel, the author Yoshiya wrote a series of short stories that catapulted her into enduring popularity (if not critical acclaim) in the Japanese literary world. These stories, the Hana Monogatari (Flower Tales) are considered to be one of the masterpieces of a new genre – Japanese girls’ literature – in the early 20th century.

The Hana Monogatari are not Yuri, but as stories of girls coming of age in a newly westernized Japan, they include a few examples of same-sex platonic love. These are all of a type, in which a younger girl at a boarding school or “mission school” admires an older student with slightly more emotion than mere friendship. This emotion, what we might refer to as a “crush” in English, is called “akogare” in Japanese.

Since the 1920s saw an expansion of both adolescence and extended education for girls and boys, and literature and magazines for adolescents of both genders was expanding equally as rapidly.

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