Themed café for Boys Love: The Ikebukuro Boys BL Academy
Source : tourist-note.com
There are numerous themed cafes in Japan, from animals to maids and even individual anime and game cafes. But there’s one themed café that is for a very niche clientele. It’s called the “BL Café”.
“Slash” (the term for homoerotic relationships in western media) was once something women were embarrassed to like (and in some situations still are) but today it is everywhere. Late-night talk show hosts even bring out fan-inspired art to show actors and get their opinion on what are called “ships” - a fan term for two people who the audience thinks would make a good couple.
Japan has its own term for this. It’s called “BL” or “Boy’s Love”. Like “slash”, “BL” is the term for a fictional homosexual relationship and has become just as widespread and well-known as “slash” is in western culture.
Banking on that widespread popularity is the BL Café where mostly college-aged men dress up as if they are in high school and wait on guests much like maids do in a maid café. Except that there’s a bit of a twist.
You can pay these men to kiss each other.
Well, maybe not quite kissing. Instead, they are playing what is called a “Pocky Game” where they put two ends of a pocky stick in their mouths and come together much like a “Lady and the Tramp” moment, without the last bit. They always turn away so you can’t actually see their lips meet.
Are these boys actually gay? Maybe, maybe not. That’s not the point really. They are creating a fantasy and you are there to observe “BL” in its “natural” element.
First Time Customers
Don’t worry about making a reservation at this café as it’s easy to walk in and get a seat. They’ll open the door with an “Ohayou! (Morning!)” (even though their opening hours are afternoon to late at night), setting the scene that you are coming to school in the morning.
They will present you with a menu and ask if it’s your first time there. If it is, then they will explain the rules to you. Don’t worry if you don’t speak Japanese, as they have an English menu and there are a few boys who speak English pretty well (although not fluently so there may be some miscommunications). Each person will be required to pay a table fee, purchase a drink and a membership card if it’s their first time.
Although this café caters mostly to women, don’t be worried if you’re male and want to come here! There are many men that come to the cafe, even by themselves! The BL café is very much like a maid café and although their theme might be “BL”, it is mostly just a place where you can talk with some very handsome men about “BL” or anime in a non-judgmental manner.
The rules are much like the rules at a maid cafe. You can’t take pictures of the staff and you can’t touch the staff or ask any personal information. Other than that, the boys are pretty happy to answer any questions and talk with you naturally.
Food and Drinks
Normal food and drinks are found at the café, including coffee, soft drinks and tea. There aren’t any specialty cooked foods and most of the menu items are snack foods taken straight from bags. They are, of course, still students, so any food they “make” would be student food, right?
However, they do write on your omurice just like maid cafes do and if you have any leftovers, you can give it to them to finish or feed to each other.
There are two “BL” games that you can play or have the boys play with each other. The “Pocky Game” is the most popular, where you can pick two of the men in the café and have them perform a scene of your choice that will always end in a “kiss”.
Second is the “Onigiri Game” that is similar to the “Pocky Game” but does not end in a kiss and might be better for those who like the thought of “BL” but not seeing it. The men do eat from each other’s hands in a risqué manner at times, depending on your choice of “scene”.
The Ikebukuro Boys BL Academy
Ikebukuro Store - 3 Chome-9-13 Higashi-Ikebukuro Toshima-ku, Iwashita Building 2F
Osaka Store - 2 Chome-4 Nanbanaka, Naniwa-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu
Price: 1000 yen for one hour, 500 yen every 30 minutes after the first hour. Required to have one drink and 300 yen for a membership card for your first time.
Written by Crystal Antolin
Tourist Note JAPAN