Opening Ceremony 「Inside The Hypermasculine Mind Of Jiraiya」

Posted on June 26, 2014
“The Best Couple: an original illustration by gay manga illustrator and cartoonist Jiraiya exclusively for MASSIVE GOODS [...]
The Best Couple, according to Jiraiya, are Asakichi and Seiji. They have compatible BMI and would tear the house asunder if they ever fought. They enjoy long aimless drives in their beat-up Volvo and get along spendidly.” (Source:

Jiraiya is the most famous Japanese artist you’ve never heard of. The illustrator is the creator of some of Japan’s most legendary bara – a genre of gay erotic art featuring husky, hairy dudes you can’t help but want to bear hug. Defying all stereotypes about slender Asian males, Jiraiya characters have achieved cult status in Japan and are now finding a new audience in the US and abroad via MASSIVE, the NYC and LA-based clothing line. Today, we’re debuting the MASSIVE for Opening Ceremony collection, featuring six of Jiraiya’s amazing illustrations of gachimuchi (“muscular-chubby”) love on tees, shorts, a towel, and a sex toy.

Curiously enough, unlike his illustrations, Jiraiya has thus far remained out of the spotlight. The artist goes only by his pseudonym (Jiraiya translates to “child of thunder”) and never allows his face to be photographed. Luckily, we managed to convince him to answer a few questions. Read on for details about his start as a cartoonist, gender roles in Japan, and his thing for Buddhist priests.

OPENING CEREMONY: How have perspectives of masculine and feminine recently evolved in Japanese and Asian culture?

JIRAIYA: In general, I feel like there’s a tendency for equilibrium of manliness and femininity during times of peace in Japan. During wartime, machismo becomes more prominent and femininity will be suppressed, but I have this idea that when the war ends, men become more neutered and women become stronger.

You largely got your public start in『G-men』, a gay Japanese magazine, in 1998, and then debuted as a cartoonist. What was the feedback in Japan?

Feedback on my illustrations and comics was immediate and positive, and I was full of joy that my work was being accepted. I suppose if I looked I’d have found negative feedback but I don’t actually remember any.

You once said that you draw the type of man that would make someone say, “I want to meet someone like him” or, “He looks like someone I know.” The stereotypical Asian male has a much slighter frame than the men in your depictions. Are you attracted to that rarity?

If 90 percent of people are beautiful, then by that logic you could argue no one is actually attractive. So, in that regard, I suppose the rarity of any type would make it an ideal. You may very well find that there are overwhelmingly a lot of thin gay men, but if you take a bird’s eye view of all the gay men in Japan, there are actually also a lot of strong, big types, and people who are into big men. Really ripped guys are my type, personally, and that’s why I depict them in my art.

Do you think it’s harder for Asian males to gain that beefy body you depict?

Different genetic races have different muscular composition, and I suppose the Asian race has a harder time accumulating muscle mass. Though I can’t speak for all Asians, in Japan at least, there isn’t as high a degree of concern with fitness as in Europe or America. Also, I think there might be a tendency among straight men to avoid getting too big for fear they won’t be popular with women. I personally love the Asian face and the shortness of our arms and legs, in terms of how the body is balanced. I do wish it were easier for us to gain muscle mass.

We heard you were particularly happy with the MASSIVE for Opening Ceremony Tenga, because the brand previously released a special edition with art by Keith Haring. What other artists do you admire?

If I started a list I wouldn’t know when to stop! I like Caravaggio’s realism, Rubens’ sensuousness, Klimt’s ornamental work, Klee’s coloration… I’m in awe of them, and am fond of anyone whose talents are beyond my reach, in any case.

Asakichi and Seiji, the two lovers depicted on this MASSIVE for Opening Ceremony Tee, are, in your opinion, “The Best Couple.” Where does that particular fondness stem from?

My aim was to draw a couple with totally compatible stances on fundamental life values and sex.

Where do you see gachimuchi, or thick-bodied men, in Japan? Have they grown in number?

You see a lot more gay men in the bigger cities like Tokyo and Osaka, and you know... you will see hundreds of big guys at any given event catering to them. I don’t know if the type is growing in number.

MASSIVE tells us that you have a thing for Buddhist priests. Can you explain the fascination?

It’s the same concept behind the prevalence of priests in American and European porn. [Laughs] Probably something to do with violating the sacred.

Tony and Paolo Harrinson
Paolo Amos
Harrinson Naomi
Photos by Jason Rodgers

Author: OC Family/Date: June 26, 2014/Source: