Japan’s “Male Colors” on Full Display


Though rarely seen outside of the gay underground, over 30 of Japan’s top gay artists will come together later this month for an unprecedented group show at the Tap Gallery in Sydney, Australia. The exhibition, called “Boy’s Life,” is timed to coincide with Sydney’s annual Mardis Gras festival, one of the biggest gay events in the world. For those of us unable to jet to the other side of the world, we present a sampling of the provocative gay artists working today in the land of the rising sun. (Some images NSFW.)


Hideki Koh

New York Arts Magazine writes:

“Born in 1951 Japan, Hideki’s work is seen in many magazine publications around Japan and is widely recognized. One of many successful Japanese artists who has held many solo exhibitions in Japan, he has also exhibited in LA, Sydney, Melbourne.Showing the perfection of his ability with acrylic paint. His stimulative, yet evocative work is gracefully executed within the framework of colour and delicate detail.”


Hiraku Takuh

Only having begun commercial illustration four years ago, Takuh’s more risque work is seen in the popular gay manga Six-Nine (think about it…).


Gengoroh Tagame

Born in 1964, Gengoroh Tagame is Japan’s answer to Tom of Finland and much of his subject matter covers the same territory as Finland’s, including leather and bondage. Along the way, he’s experimented with incorporating traditional styles, like woodblock, into his images of male eroticism.



Based out of Kyoto, Touya creates a ‘zine inspired maga known as Rice. Like many male erotic artists, Touya’s site offers up a selection of desktop wallpapers to internet-savvy Japanese gays.


Naojiro Takarabe

Takarabe’s primary interest is mature dudes, whose continuing adventures both in and out of the sack are chronicled in his manga, “Thunder City.”



Higa’s style is a bit different from other erotic Japanese artists as he doesn’t do manga, but rather single stand-alone images of hot guys, in a style that’s both pop and pin-up.



Not all of Japan’s gay artists are focused on creating representative erotica. Gay artist Shiroki has turned to the classical form of brush painting to express eroticism in an abstract, lyrical way.

What do you think of Japan’s current crop of gay artists? Do you think that it’s still difficult to work with explicityly gay subject matter, either here or abroad?

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