Who Are These ‘History Girls’ From Japan and What Are Their Interests?

  • SOCIETY
  • CULTURE
  • Japan has many subcultures that really make you wonder how different it is from the rest of the world. When it comes to gender-specific cliques, there are a few such as “Reki-jo,” also known as “History Girls,” that have become very popular in the past few decades. Reki-jo is a group of women who show a strong interest towards Japanese history, and some of them even fantasize about men from the past.

    The ‘History Girl’ Phenomenon

    With the advent of lady-centric anime, manga, games, and novels in the entertainment market, many women have been increasingly becoming a part of otaku and other prominent fan cultures in Japan. Today, you can find many otaku women in the country.

    One subtype of the otaku culture is “reki-jo” – women whose hobbies include reading history, visiting archaeological sites and monuments, playing video games set in the Medieval Period, wearing warrior-style garb during special events to showcase their taste, and many more.

    If you are wondering where you can meet a history girl, check out Tokyo’s Akihabara, nicknamed as the “Otaku Paradise,” a place where many otaku subtypes meet. However, most of this “History Girl” phenomenon happens online, which is one of the main reasons why the subculture is growing at a very fast pace. There are also many famous history girls who serve as inspirations to young girls such as the smart and beautiful Anne Watanabe, who is the female scion of Ken Watanabe.

    Their Type and Interests

    If you are wondering what type of men reki-jo like, you may have to read a little bit of history as well. Most reki-jo women show interest in personalities that influenced Japan in the 19th century, especially during the isolation period when Japan saw a huge power struggle, both internally and externally because of the growing foreign influence. When Japan was threatened by the West, some clans formed squads that consisted of highly skilled warriors to police the cities. Japan was divided between pro-shogunate and anti-shogunate groups, and they used to fight amongst one another, ultimately leading to the famous Boshin Civil War.

    History girls like “Shinsengumi” men. The Shinsengumi were a group of Tokugawa Shogunate loyalists, several of them were ronins (lordless samurai), who fought many battles and saved Kyoto from falling into the hands of pro-Western/pro-Meiji groups. The Meiji Restoration in 1868 led to the transformation of Japan, from being an agrarian and sectarian society to a modern and unified society.

    One of the most prominent Shinsengumi members was Serizawa Kamo, who is also known for his romantic love story with a beautiful woman named Oume. Many period-based anime and manga series have been loosely based on his life, such as Hakuoki and Rurouni Kenshin among others.

    Otome Games

    Apart from keeping up with history, another thing that fascinates history girls are warlords and other notable personalities from previous eras. In gaming, the most popular otome games are the dating sims whose storylines are set in the Sengoku era and other eras. Women gamers have to play according to the plot to win their handsome and romantic virtual warrior lover. It is no exaggeration to say that some women dream about these virtual men and they openly show their infatuation towards these characters by attending clubs, events, or theme cafes.

    One such famous game series is Sengoku Basara. It is adored by both men and women gamers and took Japan by storm. There are many adaptations, including movies, based on this game that are set in the early samurai era. Believe it or not, there are books, music, and whatnot created by fans of Sengoku Basara; some otome game creators have even jumped on the bandwagon and came out with products specifically targeted towards the female audience.

    Do you find reki-jo or history girls interesting? Are you obsessed with history as well? Cool or not, we should definitely know about these modern Japanese subcultures that have a ripple effect on today’s society.

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