Photos of Hamster Butts Are Huge in Japan, But Are They Art?

From, 'Hamuketsu, You Could Faint by Its Cuteness'. Courtesy of Sekai Bunka Publishing
The cover of "Kawaisa-ni Monzetsu Hamuketsu"  Courtesy of Sekai Bunka Publishing

The cover of Kawaisa-ni Monzetsu Hamuketsu.
Courtesy of Sekai Bunka Publishing.

If you’re feeling fatigued by pop culture’s cat obsession, you may be in luck. Thanks to the recent publication of two books, “hamuketsu”—a portmanteau of “hamster” and “ketsu” (which means butt in Japanese)—has now become a full-blown trend in Japan, as well as on the Internet, because obviously. According to the Wall Street Journal, the books, which feature images of hamster butts, have sold over 40,000 copies combined. And here you thought the publishing industry was dead.

Hamuketsu was released on March 12, while Kawaisa-ni Monzetsu Hamuketsu (or Hamuketsu—So Cute You Could Faint) was published on April 19. Each book features upwards of 70 pages of hamsters of all shapes and sizes with their butt to the camera. However, according to a spokesman for Sekai Bunka Publishing, “male hamsters appear to be more popular because they have bigger and rounder buttocks.”

Hamuketsu Photo: Flickr, digital_image_fan

Hamuketsu.
Photo: digital_image_fan/Flickr.

The trend is believed to have been started by artist Megumi Hisai, who set the rush for hamster rumps in motion when she used the term “hamuketsu” in a blog entry featuring photos of her pet hamster. Her book, The Original Hamuketsu, is due out later this month.

The craze appears to be a manifestation of Japan’s larger and longstanding fixation on “kawaii,” or “cuteness,” that is pervasive in all areas of the country’s popular culture. Takeshi Takahashi, a spokesman for Basilico Publishing, shared his thoughts: “The great thing about hamuketsu is that it is delightfully cute.  I can’t stop smiling when I see these butts.”

From, 'Hamuketsu, You Could Faint by Its Cuteness'. Courtesy of Sekai Bunka Publishing

From Kawaisa-ni Monzetsu Hamuketsu.
Courtesy of Sekai Bunka Publishing.


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