日本語版はこちらYuri Manga and Depictions of Lesbian Relationships
Since artists active during the Edo period (1615–1868) were almost exclusively male, shunga and non-explicit artwork typically discussed sexuality in androcentric terms. Images of sexual interaction between two biological females were exceedingly rare, and most terms used to describe lesbianism, such as kai-awase, were marked by a distinct sense of derisive humor.
During the 20th century, however, the demographics of the producers and consumers of Japanese erotic art shifted dramatically. The first manga for young women (shōjo manga) appeared around 1903. Limiting itself to lighthearted themes, shōjo manga retained only marginal popularity for the first half of the century. Between 1969 and 1971, a wave of female artists revolutionized the field by producing manga for adult women (josei manga) that dealt with mature, dramatic themes, and readers responded enthusiastically. Among the subgenres of women’s manga are works that focus upon intimate relationships between women, both tales of platonic love (shōjo-ai manga; lit., “manga about love between young women”) and romance (yuri manga; lit., “lily manga”).
Couple of the White Room (Shiroi heya no futari, 1971) by Yamagishi Ryōko (born 1947) is believed to be the first commercially published work to deal with the subject of lesbianism. Yamagishi states that she originally wanted to write a story about male homosexuality. Her publishers protested that the topic was too controversial, but Yamagishi managed to appease them by switching the protagonists’ gender and transforming them into women. Since then, yuri manga has developed considerable popularity, inspiring serial publications such as Yuri Shimai (2003–2004), Yuri Monogatari (2005–present), and Comic Yuri Hime (2005–present) as well as public events such as the international manga convention Yuricon.