I've seen various lists of manga genres in English, but in my experience they haven't lined up to the writing that I have read in Japanese book stores.

Note, so that the question is not too broad, I limit the scope of this question to the genres you would find in the labeling scheme of a book store in Japan. Obviously subgenres on to infinity can be defined.

Basically, at a Japanese bookstore (like Kinokuniya), what would the aisles be named?

I ask, because I imagine the perception of genre to the English speaking otaku may be different than what is considered in Japan.

  • For instance I see yaoi sections marked as BL
  • There appears to be a section for young girls, but I can't read the kanji
  • Perhaps scifi? But again I can't read the kanji.
  • Is giant robot considered a genre in Japan, is that something you'd see an aisle for in a bookstore?

What would be the idioms be in Japan?

  • If your talking about Shōjo, Shōnen, Seinen and Josei remember these are demographics, the target audience, in order of what i listed it they are Young Girls, Young Boys, Adult Men, Adult Women
    – Memor-X
    Feb 19, 2015 at 4:07
  • Otherwise can you post up some examples?
    – Memor-X
    Feb 19, 2015 at 4:08
  • If there is argument that there are no genres I would take that too, but I'll try to put up some examples. Most I read are in kanji! Feb 19, 2015 at 4:08
  • 1
    BL = Boy's Love which is what Yaoi is, romantic relationships between 2 males, similar to how Yuri can be GL (Girl's Love).
    – Memor-X
    Feb 19, 2015 at 4:14
  • I knew that. I'm just curious what the aisles would be labeled in a Japanese bookstore. Feb 19, 2015 at 4:15

1 Answer 1


Basically, at a Japanese bookstore (like Kinokuniya), what would the aisles be named?

M.I.A's comment hits it right on the head. In the US (and, I think, much of Europe), books in bookstores are often broken down by subject or genre or category or whatnot.

This is also true in Japan - to a degree. You will still have broad categories like "computers" and "art" and "foreign language" and "fiction" and "comics" (manga). But within the manga section, you'll probably find that the manga are grouped by publisher (Kodansha, Shueisha, Kadokawa, etc.), rather than by genre/etc. I don't know if this is universal, but this is how it worked in all of the manga-selling Japanese bookstores I've been to (not that I've been to all that many).

I guess the closest you'll get to genre-based categorization within the manga section is e.g. that certain publishers almost exclusively publish shoujo content. I can't remember the names of any of the big publishers in that sector, but if you go to a Japanese bookstore, you'll easily be able to identify the shoujo-publisher section by its garish pinkness. The same is true (to an extent) for yaoi/shounen-ai. But for subject-matter-based categories like "science fiction" or "romance" or "giant robots", you're unlikely to find subsections of the manga section devoted specifically to those things.

Incidentally, given that you seem to be located in NYC - if you want another perspective on what Japanese bookstores tend to look like, I'd recommend visiting the basement of the Book-Off on 45th St if you have a chance. (But Kinokuniya does still have a much better selection.)

  • Book off is ok, much bigger kinokuniya fan! Feb 19, 2015 at 19:23
  • @baordog Agreed. NYC Kinokuniya is a damn good bookstore.
    – senshin
    Feb 19, 2015 at 21:05

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