Literally translated means "Lover of the Japanese Painting Style", but more accurately means a second-generation Otaku, or someone non-Japanese who loves the Japanese arts. This can range from a taste in their decorating style, to foods like sushi, sashimi, sake, the look of hiragana, katakana, and kanjii, to, of course, the anime and manga that make up the majority of reading material in modern-day Japan.

The largest injection of Otaku Culture actually came after the original airings of Astro Boy, Speed Racer, Voltron, and Gigantor. These had a small cult following, mostly of children, and many people forgot about them until shortly after 1973, when at a Comic Book Convention some tapes had been exchanged with Japanese fans of US cartoons. Now one must keep in mind the sort of people who go to comic book conventions. (I myself am one). Now turn the clock back twenty-five years.

The name of one of the series sent over was Kyûtî Hanî, or as it very quickly came to be known, Cutie Honey. The cartoon itself features a heroine who transforms into the avatar of goodness through the time-honored method of her clothes being ripped off by invisible forces and replaced with her super-hero outfit. Of course in this transformation there is a split-second of nudity. Something never before seen in American Cartoons. (Heavy Metal was not released until 1981, largely in response to the huge craze that very soon took place). In any event... suddenly the tapes found themselves copied and passed around...creating an even larger demand for animated nudity. Which led to even more tapes being imported to America from Japan. A whole new world had opened up.

Of course this caused problems. People would say "You only like Japanese Cartoons for the nudity!" and the poor soul would be forced to make up some sort of story about how they have always been interested in Japanese things.

"Oh yeah? Like what?"

Well, one thing leads to another and soon pre-pubescent boys around America are researching all things Japanese to keep up a good facade defense for their Japornimation habit. As would be expected, some actually found the culture fascinating.

"Dude, they make this wine out of rice, called sake!"
"They have public baths...duuude."
"Oh wow! Check out some of the cool Dragons they have!!!"

And so on, and so on... everyone found their own niche, their own favorites, their own machineries of joy. And soon the boys grew up to be men. The men came to get significant others and introduced them to this concept. They bred sometimes, and the children were exposed. Many people came to love the culture. A good deal of them never even bothered with the anime, manga, or hentai, but rather the more elegant practices, like Nihonga, the Japanese Style of painting, Haiku, architecture, eastern religions...

This is how the Nihongaphile (Nihonga aka "Japanese art" + phile aka "lover of") came to pass. They are the second generation Otaku who delights in the more refined aspects of a rather beautiful culture. For the dedicated Nihongaphile I would heartily recommend reading almost all of ssjbulma's nodes, as she has described a great number of obscure Japanese cultural aspects quite eloquently.

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