Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Lynne K. Miyake

Reader 2

Kazumi Takahashi

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Rights Information

© 2017 Jessica M. Perreira


The first half of my thesis are my translations from Yumi Hirosawa’s Onna O Aisuru Onnatachi. The first translation is excerpts from a high school girls journal documenting her realization and acceptance of being lesbian, and her time with her first girlfriend. The second translation is a report by a freelance writer on three different lesbian bars in Shinjuku Ni-Chome. The most notable bar is an onabe bar called Little Prince. Onabe in the simplest terms are women who dress and act like men. Onabe are important to the research portion of my thesis because they allowed me to research how masculine identities among Japanese women are formed. The documentary Shinjuku Boys interviews three onabe. From them it is made clear that being an onabe is not as simple as presenting as a man but is a complex relationship with one’s body, societal norms and parental pressures. We learn that onabe is different than being trans - which some would say is Onabe’s Western equivalent - yet various part of those identities can line up. Secondly the cultural phenomena Takarazuka and the women that play the otoko-yaku, or men's roles, makes clear the idea of what masculinity is and how women should wear it on their bodies. Even though the otoko-yaku and musume-yaku hyper-perform gender their exaggeration helps clarify how the women from Queer Japan: Personal Stories of Japanese Lesbians, Gay, Transsexuals, and Bisexuals grappled with their sexuality and gender. Lastly, the fictional stories from Sparkling Rain: And Other Fiction from Japan of Women Who Love Women coupled with the firsthand accounts from Queer Japan further develops the idea and struggles of masculine women’s bodies. In my thesis I aim to look at how masculinity is written onto Japanese woman's bodies both by themselves and others, and the struggles that they encounter because of their deviant sexual and gender identities. In my thesis these are the research questions I aim to answer: What are the modes in which queer women push away masculinity? Yet how do they perform and enforce it? How do these women view or interpret other women who are more masculine? How does having a masculine identity affect one’s perception of themselves? How do these women cope with being both lesbian and masculine of center? Why are the otoko-yaku women of Takarazuka praised for their daily performance of masculinity while onabe are scrutinized for it? And if both are forms of entertainment, mainly for other women, why is one more acceptable than another?