Traveling is one of my favorite hobbies aside from reading, and nothing is more fun than reading while traveling. Traveling allows me to discover new cultures and is a way for me to visit the world. My ultimate goal is to visit all countries on the planet, and I am not quite there yet, but I have traveled to my fair share of countries.
Another of my hobbies is watching movies, and TV shows, my best friend and I have watch parties to watch our favorite bl together. We are both Asian Americans who grew up in New York, and traveling helps us connect to our roots. So, without further ado, let’s dive into this blog and see some of the countries that bl fans ought to visit.
What is bl?
Bl is the abbreviation of boys’ love and is a genre of fictional media that hails from Japan. It usually features queer main characters and their journey to find love. In laypeople’s terms, it is your typically romantic genre but where both of the main characters are main.
Though the bl genre has been with us since before the 70s, it only gained traction in the 2000s, especially during 2020, when most of us were stuck at home and had nothing to watch. Personally, I got into bl when I was in high school and was questioning my sexuality. Through bls and reading a lot, I learn more and more about myself.
My first bl was Grey rainbow, and I watched it when it was airing in 2016, and let’s just say it has an apt title because the last episode made me sob uncontrollably. From there, I immersed myself in the world of Thai bl, then moved to Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, Korean, and Filipino bls. So, come along with us and learn about some countries every bl fan should visit.
In the eyes of many bl fans, Japan is the motherland of bl, from its manga to its anime, movies, and series. Japan has something for every bl fan out there, and this is why you should visit. The center of the Japanese gay neighborhood is hidden in the 7 square miles of Tokyo’s Shinjuku district.
It is a 10 to 15 minutes walk from the bustling Shinjuku station will take you to a quieter, more residential part of the city called Shinjuku Ni-chome. It is home to at least 100 LGBTQ bars and clubs, a sauna complex, and gay and lesbian stores filled with adult clothing, accessories, utensils, and items.
One place we can’t stop recommending is Ikebukuro Bl café, which is Located on Otome Street in Ikebukuro; it is a school-themed BL café that opened nearly ten years ago. The café considers itself a “school campus.” As soon as you enter the café, you are considered a student of the “school”. In the café, you will be served by all-male staff- dressed like a student.
Not only can you order your usual food and drinks, but you can also pay to watch two staff members play “Pocky Challenges” and role-play with each other. Each month, the facility also hosts special events where staff members dress up in different costumes, such as maid or butler uniforms. So there’s never a dull moment at this BL Café.
Every bl fan will agree that Thailand is currently the leader of bl in the world, and it has rightfully gained its place as the King of the bl world. Thailand is a very inclusive country, and it is where many trans people go to get top and bottom surgery.
Because of this, you can find everyone under the queer umbrella represented in bl series. Some shows we recommend are 3 Will Be Free, Bad Buddy, Not Me, Cutie Pie, YYY, and Grey Rainbow. Some upcoming shows that we are excited about are Kinnporsche, Check Out, and Unforgotten Night.
I Told Sunset About You (ITSAY) and its sequel I Promised You The Moon has gained popularity in the last year and is one of those series that is beautifully filmed. ITSAY is a beautifully shot series, and the cinematic is what attracted me the most, and it showed me Phuket in a different light. If you want to take a trip and visit the filming locations of the series, then we recommend the following.
I visited Phuket twice before seeing ITSAY, and after the series and the relaxation from the lockdown and pandemic, I was able to travel this year. I first visited Phuket, and I planned my trip to visit the places where the series was filmed.
If you want to do the same and visit the places where I Told Sunset About You was filmed, you should visit Yanui Beach; this is where the Skyline music video was filmed, and Sangtham Shrine, the temple we see in the series and where our protagonists go to pray.
It was even more beautiful in person. Also, you should visit the Dibuk Restaurant, where much of the story takes place and which is Teh’s family restaurant, and you can even try the noodles yourself. So if you are a bl fan like me, you should visit Phuket just to see the filming location of I Told Sunset About You. You can even stay at Oh-aew’s family hotel from the series, called Cape Panwa Hotel.
Taiwan is currently the only country in Asia that has recognized same-sex marriage, and this is one of the upcoming leaders in bl series and movies. There are so many good bl series from Taiwan like Dear Ex, HiStory 3: Trapped, and even The Teacher.
One of the movies from Taiwan we recommend to everyone is Your Name Engraved Herein. This famous 2020 bl (boys love) film is one of those beautifully filmed movies and addresses the painful reality of being queer in a religious and conservative country. The first part of the film, set during martial law, ends in the country in 1987, and the last part of the film, when the time jump takes place, is set in Quebec, Canada.
The story follows two students, A-han (Edward Chen) and Birdy (Tseng Jing-Hua), the people they fall in love with, and society’s attitude towards homosexuals. It is a very raw and emotional film, highlighted by our protagonist’s actions. If you want to visit the country and the place where the film was shot, you can visit the school on which the film’s school is based, Viator Catholic High School.
Get ready for a crying fest. Grab a box of tissue, put on your favorite pajamas, and if you live with someone, grab them too and watch this movie together. My roommate and I have seen this movie at least three times now, and we cry like babies every time we watch it. Also, we are currently planning to revisit Taiwan to visit and take a trip to all the popular destinations where the movie was filmed.
Freedom is the oxygen of my soul, and the only way to replenish it is by traveling because it is a way to fuel my soul. This is why traveling is a must in our book, especially for your holiday or for fun. Taiwan, Thailand, and Japan are some of the places every bl fan should visit at least once in their lifetime; if not for their rich culture, then it has to be for its delicious cuisine and cinema. Sound off in the comments section below and tell us what you want to read next!