And kanji with manga
Sunday, October 21, 2018

yarou 野郎

In Japanese, yarou 野郎 (or yarō, also spelled やろう, ヤロー, ヤロウ), is a rather weird word. By itself, it can be a casual or rather rude way to say "guy." Originally, it referred to an adult man. But the way you see it used most often in anime is in insults and swearing.

So, in this post, I'll explain the why of all this.

(beware of homonyms: yarou やろう may also be "let's do it," the volitional form of the verb yaru やる, "to do;" and yarou ヤロウ may refer to the plant, "Yarrow," achillea millefolium.)

野郎ッ、調子に乗るなよ!! transcript from manga Black Lagoon ブラック・ラグーン
Manga: Black Lagoon ブラック・ラグーン

Written in Japanese

The word yarou written in Japanese would be:


Let's take a look at the meanings of the kanji of yarou and see if we can more or less guess what the word means from its kanji:

So, basically, someone, a son, a guy, born in the wild. Probably means someone uncivilized, right? Not from the city, from the countryside. The boondocks. That sort of thing?

Eh, not really.

This time the meanings of the kanji weren't really useful. That's because, apparently, yarou is an ateji 当て字.

It was a word made up from another word, by pronouncing it differently, and it's written with those kanji because the readings of the kanji matched the pronunciation of the word (ya and rou) rather than because the meanings matched the meaning of the word. (see Origin below.)


The romaji word yarō やろう is the same thing as yarou やろう. It's just a different romaji for the same word. So kono yarō an kono yarou mean the same thing too.


The word yarou 野郎 is often used in swearing, however, it isn't a swear word by itself. Literally, yarou means "guy," or, because of how plurals work in Japanese, "guys." For example:
  • konkai wa yarou dake de nomikai wo yaoru ze
    This time let's go drink with just [us] guys.
    (i.e. a drinking party of only men, not girls, so they can talk about man stuff, like footbaseball.)

The said, yarou is by no means a polite word. It's rather rude, and you wouldn't use it in formal contexts. But it's not always offensive, specially between buddies, casually.

In fiction that deals with street gangs, yakuza, and so on, that is, the very opposite of formal, a bunch of thugs doing thug things, you'll see yarou used a lot between them.

Also note that using yarou 野郎 toward women is pretty much always wrong, since yarou is used only toward guys. (see: Related History.)


The usage of yarou in swearing is mostly confined to when it's a noun qualified by one adjective or another.

A quick summary of how adjectives work in Japanese: you have a noun, and whatever comes before that noun is usually its adjective.

Because of this, the literal translation of these phrases can get real bad. For example:
  • kuso yarou クソ野郎
    Shit guy.
  • baka yarou 馬鹿野郎
    Idiot guy.

The demonstrative pronoun kono この, "this," is also often used before it to emphasize some rage toward the guy who is near you.
  • kono yarou この野郎
    This guy.
  • kono baka yarou この馬鹿野郎
    This idiot guy.
  • kono kuso yarou このクソ野郎
    This shit guy.

As you can see, the literal translations above are literally bad, godawful levels of bad. So even the most literal translators will avoid them altogether and go for something more colorful. Like:
  • You sonuvabitch!
  • You fucking idiot!
  • You dumbass!
  • You piece of shit!
  • You bastard!
  • Etc.

TL Note: the English translation of yarou tends to be "bastard" because "bastard" is normally used toward men. However, "bastard" technically means "illegitimate child." So it's gender-neutral, unlike the male-only yarou. It just happens that historically bastard daughters weren't as important lineage-wise as bastard sons, so the word bastard tended to be used more toward men. [On the specifics of illegitimate children -, 2018-10-20]


For reference, a bunch of examples of yarou 野郎 being used, so you can get the hang of it.

野郎ッ、調子に乗るなよ!! transcript from manga Black Lagoon ブラック・ラグーン
Manga: Black Lagoon ブラック・ラグーン
  • Context: the speaker was attacked by someone. He yells back, in rage.
  • yarou', 野郎
    [You bastard],
  • choushi ni noru-na yo!!
    Don't [get cocky]!!
    • choushi ni noru 調子に乗る
      To get on tone. (literally.)
      To become full of yourself.
      To get cocky.

Baka Yarou バカ野郎

お前も一緒に来るんだ、バカ野郎。 transcript from manga Black Lagoon ブラック・ラグーン
Manga: Black Lagoon ブラック・ラグーン
  • omae mo issho ni

    お前も一緒に 来るんだ、
    You'll come with [us] too,
  • baka yarou バカ野郎

Kono Aho Yarou このアホ野郎

このアホ野郎。 transcript from manga Black Lagoon ブラック・ラグーン
Manga: Black Lagoon ブラック・ラグーン
  • kono
    aho yarou

    この アホ野郎
    [You dumbass.]

Inpo Yarou インポ野郎

ああ 降りなよ、インポ野郎!でも救命胴衣が欲しいんなら金を払いな!! transcript from manga Black Lagoon ブラック・ラグーン
Manga: Black Lagoon ブラック・ラグーン
  • Context: Rock tries to abandon ship. Revy is mad.
  • aa ああ
    [Sure] (expression of agreement.)
  • ori na yo, 降りなよ、
    [Get off],
    • oriru 降りる
      To get off a vehicle, embarkation, etc.
  • inpo yarou! インポ野郎!
    • I don't even know how to translate this.
    • She's calling him "(sexually) impo[tent]," inpo インポ.
    • Probably for acting cowardly.
  • demo
    kyoumei doui ga
    kane wo harai na!!
    でも 救命胴衣が 欲しいんなら 金を払いな!!
    But if [you] want a life-jacket pay money!!

Maguso Yarou 馬糞野郎

Balalaika saying 馬糞(ムラーシィ)野郎よく聞けよ、聞くことなど何もない、知りたいことは知っている。祈れ。生きてる間にお前ができるのはそれだけだ。 transcript from manga Black Lagoon ブラック・ラグーン
Manga: Black Lagoon ブラック・ラグーン
  • maguso (muraashii) yarou
    yoku kike yo,

    馬糞(ムラーシィ)野郎 よく聞けよ、
    Listen well, [you horse shit],
    • muraashii ムラーシィ was used as gikun 義訓 for "horse shit," maguso 馬糞.
      It could be a synonymous Russian word. It could be the town of Murashi, in the Murashinsky District of Kirov Oblast, Russia. I don't know. I don't speak Russian.
      In the anime adaptation, the gikun was dropped and Balalaika says maguso.
  • kiku koto nado
    nanimo nai,

    聞くことなど 何もない、
    There's nothing to ask,
    • kiku 聞く
      To listen. To hear.
      To ask. (something you want to hear.)
  • shiritai koto wa

    知りたいことは 知っている。
    What [I] want to know [I] know.
  • inore. 祈れ。
  • ikiteru aida ni
    omae ga dekiru nowa
    sore dake da.

    生きてる間に お前ができるのは それだけだ。
    While [you're] alive that's the only thing you can do.

More Examples

There are of course other expletives you can make up by qualifying yarou with... pretty much anything in the whole universe.

Sometimes the translation is very direct.
  • baka yarou バカ野郎
    baka yarou 馬鹿野郎
    aho yarou アホ野郎
    aho yarou 阿呆野郎
    Qualifier: "idiot" or "stupid," baka 馬鹿, aho アホ.
    • You idiot!
    • You stupid!
    • You dumbass!
  • buta yarou ブタ野郎
    buta yarou 豚野郎
    Qualifier: "pig," buta 豚.
    • You pig!
  • hentai yarou 変態野郎
    Qualifier: "pervert," hentai 変態.
    • You pervert!

Other times not so much.
  • kuso yarou クソ野郎
    kuso yarou 糞野郎
    Qualifier: "shit," kuso
    • You piece of shit!
  • kuzu yarou クズ野郎
    Qualifier: "waste", "garbage," kuzu クズ
    (just remember of Kazuma from Konosuba.)
    • You scum!
  • kusottare yarou クソッタレ野郎
    Qualifier: "dripping shit," kusottare 糞っ垂れ.
    • You piece of shit!
      (I'm recycling translations now.)

Sometimes you can figure out an equivalent insult in English, a translation, for example:
  • homoyarou ホモ野郎
    Qualifier: homo ホモ, offensive word used toward gays.
  • kamayarou カマ野郎
  • Qualifier: okama オカマ, effeminate men, trans, etc.

You can probably guess how you'd translate that.

But sometimes it's really just some sort of description of what kind of yarou that yarou is. Then there's really no easy translation.
  • Seishun Buta Yarou wa Banii-Gaaru-Senpai no Yume wo Minai
    (Seishun Buta Yarou) Doesn't See Bunny Girl-Senpai's Dream.
    • seishun 青春
    • buta ブタ
    • seishun buta yarou 青春ブタ野郎
      You adolescent pig!
      You... pig youth?
      (is this supposed to be an insult?)
  • The official English title, by the way, is:
    Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai.

And sometimes the most ridiculous stuff comes up in the qualifiers, like:

Akutabe telling Beelzebub いいかげんにしとけよスカトロ野郎 transcript from manga Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san. よんでますよ、アザゼルさん。
Manga: Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san. よんでますよ、アザゼルさん。
  • iikagen ni

    いいかげんに しとけよ
    • [Give it a rest]
    • [Stop that]
    • [That's enough]
  • sukatoro yarou スカトロ野郎
    Qualifier: "scato[phagy]," sukatoro スカトロ.
    (you don't want to look that up.)
    • You shit-eating bastard!

Name + No Yarou 〇〇の野郎

Sometimes, you see the phrase no yarou の野郎 after somebody's name. Literally, it would be like saying "[that] guy, Name," or more likely, "[that bastard], Name." Example:

もう一度殺してやりてぇぜ ルアクの野郎!くそっ。 transcript from manga Black Lagoon ブラック・ラグーン
Manga: Black Lagoon ブラック・ラグーン
  • Context: Luak is dead, and that troubles the speaker, who curses Luak for his failure.
  • mou ichido
    もう一度 殺してやりてぇぜ
    [I] want to kill [you] one more time.
    • yaritee やりてぇ
      yaritai やりたい
      To want to do.
  • Ruaku no yarou! ルアクの野郎
    [You bastard], Luak!
  • kuso'. くそっ。

These can also take qualifiers, by the way. For example:
  • Ruaku no baka yarou ルアクのバカ野郎
    [That dumbass], Luak.

Female Yarou

The word yarou is male-only. There's no exact female version for the word yarou. But there's a word somewhat similar: ama アマ.

Ama アマ

The term ama アマ (尼, or 阿魔) is derogatory and used only toward women. It could be translated more-or-less as "stupid woman" or "bitch." It tends to be used the same way as yarou for swearing.
  • kono ama! このアマ!
    This bitch!
    [You] bitch!

Note, however, that it isn't used in the same buddy way as yarou, so it isn't exactly equivalent to it.

Ano Baka Ama あのバカアマ

Revy screaming いてェえええェエェおぉ クソッ!クソッ!痛えクソ あのバカアマ、チクショウ。殺す殺す 絶対殺すッ! transcript from manga Black Lagoon ブラック・ラグーン
Manga: Black Lagoon ブラック・ラグーン
  • iteeeeeeeeoo
    [It huuuuuuuurrttssszzzzz]
    • itai 痛い
      To hurt.
  • kuso'! kuso!
    Shit! Shit!
  • itee kuso 痛えクソ
    [It] hurts shit
  • ano baka ama, あのバカアマ
    [That stupid bitch,]
  • chikushou. チクショウ。
    [Damn it.]
  • korosu korosu 殺す殺す
    [I'll] kill [her] [I'll] kill [her]
  • zettai korosu'! 絶対殺すッ!
    [I'll] absolutely kill [her]!

Ano Kuso Ama あのクソアマ

Revy saying あのクソアマどうなった?ええ?どうなった?くたばったか?あのクソったれ、くたばったのかよ おい! transcript from manga Black Lagoon ブラック・ラグーン
Manga: Black Lagoon ブラック・ラグーン
  • ano kuso ama
    dou natta?

    あのクソアマ どうなった?
    [What happened] to that [whore]?
    • Literally "shit" ama, but whatever expletive works.
    • dou natta どうなった
      Literally "how became," but means "what happened to," etc.
  • ee? ええ?
  • dou natta? どうなった?
    [Where's she]?
  • kutabatta ka? くたばったか?
    [Did she kick the bucket?] (i.e. died.)
  • ano kusottare
    kutabatta no-ka-yo

    あのクソったれ、 くたばったのかよ
    That [piece of shit], [is she dead]?
  • oi! おい!

Yarou-domo 野郎共

A plural for yarou would be the word yarou-domo 野郎共. It has the pluralizing suffix -domo ~共.

Unlike -tachi ~たち and -ra ~ら, -domo ~共 is often used in a more humble, self-deprecating or just deprecating way. In this case, it would be the latter.

Because yarou is a rather rude word, it makes more sense for the plural to use domo, which is deprecating (rude), instead of the neutral tachi. That's why you say yarou-domo but not yarou-tachi.

Other Meanings

If you check up a J-J dictionary, you'll be surprised to find that yarou 野郎 actually has a bunch of weird meanings nobody would ever expect. Like:
  1. Word for swearing toward guys.
    (this is the one we know about.)
  2. Young man who has cut his forelocks.
  3. Actor of kabuki theater.
  4. Abbreviation of yarou-atama (shaven-head Edo period hairstyle.)
  5. Abbreviation of yarou-boushi (hat used in kabuki)
  6. Male prostitute. Synonymous with kagema.

[definitions from: や‐ろう〔‐ラウ〕【野郎】 -, 2018-10-21]

And you'll be asking yourself: what in the world of Japan is going on with this word?

Well, for starters, a good number of those meanings have historical origins and you probably won't get to see them used that way in modern real life. So nothing good will come out of being curious about why it's used like that and looking it all up because it isn't used like that in first place.

Related History

In this section is a bunch of related history that most people probably won't care about.

Note that it may look like a bunch of random information at first, but it all somehow connects at the end. (just pretend you're watching an anime like Samurai Flamenco, Punch Line, Durarara!!, Baccano!, Shangri-la, etc. in which it all just somehow connects at the end.)


The word yarou 野郎 has existed for centuries, so you can imagine pinpointing where it came from is no easy task.

One of the theories is that the origin of yarou lies in the word warawa 童. The pronunciation of the word warawa わらは changed into warau わらう, and then into yarou やろう. [語源 【野郎】, 2018-10-17]

Note that, over five hundred years ago, the kana ha は was pronounced wa わ instead. This is also the historical reason why the particle wa は is spelled with the kana ha は instead.

So, at the time, it was spelled as waraha わらは, but pronounced like warawa わらわ. Nowadays, in modern Japanese, it'd be spelled as warawa わらわ instead. [わらわ〔わらは〕【▽童】 -, 2018-10-17]

You'll see words of the period also have this old spelling. E.g. onna-warawa 女童, "girl," used to be spelled as wonna-waraha をんなわらは instead of onna-warawa おんなわらわ. [おんな‐わらわ〔をんなわらは〕【女▽童】 -, 2018-10-18]

Although I suspect the warawa theory is true, there's a couple things I must note.

First, warawa refers to underage boys, while yarou refers to adult men. Their meanings are clearly related, but I haven't been able to find why exactly yarou came to refer to adult men, given its supposed origin, warawa, refers to the opposite.

I also haven't been able to find a second source to confirm the pronunciation change. But I have been able to find a source on something similar instead:

The word waro 和郎, which refers to children, specially boys, also comes from warawa being pronounced differently. [わろ【我▽郎/和▽郎 -, 2018-10-17]

Since waro 和郎 comes from warawa it isn't hard to imagine yarou 野郎 could also.


The word warawa 童 was used to refer to children from 3 years old up to their coming of age of ceremony, the genpuku 元服. In particular, it referred to boys who did errands and odd jobs in temples, etc. Specially since the girls who did the same were called warawa-me 童女 instead. [童【わらわ】- 日本大百科全書 - via, 2018-10-17]

Because the boys who worked in temples usually had the same untied hairstyle, the word warawa came to refer to their hairstyle as well. [日本大百科全書, 2018-10-17]

This is similar to how the word bocchan 坊っちゃん has an origin somehow related to Buddhist priests, bouzu 坊主, and the closed-cropped hairstyle called bouzu 坊主 that originates in the hairstyle of said priests.

Genpuku 元服

The coming of age ceremony, called genpuku 元服, happened when one was around 11 to 16 years old. [元服 -, 2018-10-17]

The were different ceremonies for boys and girls, and what the ceremony consisted of exactly changed through history, and also varied between families' castes. (nobility, warriors, merchants, etc.)

But, basically, boys before the genpuku, that is, underage children, were called warawa, while boys after the genpuku, that is, adults, men, were called yarou.

Note that, technically, term for "adult" is seijin 成人, and more casually otona 大人. The above is just to give an idea of how you'd separate warawa from yarou.

倅の嘉一郎にも……元服には袴ば着せ立派な刀ば持たしてやりてえ*元服=男子が成人となったことを示す儀式 transcript from manga Mibu Gishi Den 壬生義士伝 (When the Last Sword Is Drawn), Chapter 3
Manga: Mibu Gishi Den 壬生義士伝 (When the Last Sword Is Drawn)
(Chapter 3)

(note: the first volume Mibu Gishi Den can be read for free online at until 2018-10-30.)
  • Warning: this is a period manga, featuring archaic Japanese.
  • segare no
    Kaichirou nimo......

    倅の 嘉一郎にも……
    As for [my] son Kaichirou......
  • genpuku niwa
    hakama ba kise
    rippana katana ba
    元服には 袴ば着せ 立派な刀ば 持たして やりてえ
    For [his] genpuku, [I] want [him] to wear a hakama and hold a good katana.
    • Hakama is a kind of Japanese cloth.
    • Kataka is a kind of Japanese sword.
    • ba ば in the phrase above is archaic speech.
      In the phrase, it works the same way as the modern object-marker wo を.
  • *genpuku=danshi ga seijin to natta koto wo shimesu gishiki
    *genpuku=ceremony indicating a boy became an adult
    • This is a TL note context note written by the author in modern Japanese for Japanese people who don't understand all this archaic lingo.

During the Edo period, part of genpuku ceremony for boys in warrior families could even include changing from a "childhood name," youmyou 幼名, to an adult name, called the inami 諱. [幼名から諱へ -, 2018-10-19]

E.g. Kippōshi 吉法師 to Oda Nobunaga 織田信長.

There was also a ceremony called hangenpuku 半元服, "half-genpuku," which happened a few years before the real genpuku. [はん‐げんぷく【半元服】 -, 2018-10-18]

But what's really relevant to this article about this ceremony was the shaving of the sakayaki 月代.

Sakayaki 月代

The word sakayaki 月代 refers to a circle atop of your head you'd shave. Warriors shaved this bald spot to make it easier to wear a "helmet," kabuto 兜. [くらしの巻 - - via, 2018-10-18]

As you can imagine, it's harder to wear those iconic samurai helmets, or any hat, if you have a bunch of hair atop of your head. But shaving to baldness is a bit extreme. So they went for the middle-point: shave only the top of the head, let the rest grow, tie a "topknot," mage 髷, or something.

Nowadays you only see this kind of haircut in period pieces, movies, dramas, anime, manga, etc. But there are actually some photos of the real thing worn by samurais of the time. [see: The last of the samurai – in pictures -, 2018-10-18]

During the Edo period, shaving the sakayaki wasn't a thing only warriors did, but that "commoners," shomin 庶民, also started doing. Having a shaved sakayaki was associated with being of adult age. [くらしの巻, 2018-10-18]

The Edo period was a peaceful period, coming just a few decades after the warring, full-of-military-conflict, Sengoku period, so there wasn't the same need for warrior helmets as there used to be.

Consequently, the sakayaki became more about hairdressing fashion than about its military usefulness.

Yarou-Atama 野郎頭

The term yarou-atama 野郎頭 refers to a hairstyle that features a shaven sakayaki, (circle atop of head), that is, the hairstyle an adult man, a yarou, would have. [野郎頭 - 大辞林 第三版 - via, 2018-10-18]

This yarou-atama could also feature knots tied on back of the head in various ways, and hair on the sides, but no hair on front, no forelocks, etc.

Also, the word yarou 野郎 alone could be used as an abbreviation to refer to this yarou-atama hairstyle.

Wakashu 若衆

The term wakashu 若衆 was another term that referred to boys before genpuku. In particular, it referred to adolescents, around 15 years old, who still had their forelocks. [若衆 - 世界大百科事典 第2版 - via, 2018-10-18]

And their hairstyle, too, was known by its own name: wakashu-mage 若衆髷.

Wakashu-Mage 若衆髷

The term wakashu-mage 若衆髷 refers to a hairstyle worn by the wakashu 若衆, adolescent boys before their genpuku 元服. It's a hairstyle featuring a shaven sakayaki 月代, but with the "forelocks," maegami 前髪, remaining. These forelocks were typically passed over the sakayaki, and tied at the back of the head into a "topknot," mage 髷.

For reference:

Note that this wakashu-mage hairstyle is different from the adult yarou-atama by the fact that the forelocks are still there.

Basically, in the hangenpuku 半元服, the ceremony that happened a couple years before the genpuku, boys to had a sakayaki shaven, but leaving the forelocks. And then in actual genpuku they'd remove the forelocks too. [江戸時代の髪型で少年が前髪をたらしてるのは何歳までですか? -, 2018-10-19]

Stereotypical Hairstyles

To recap:
  • Boys before genpuku: warawa.
  • Adolescents before genpuku: wakashu.
  • Adult men after genpuku: yarou.
  • A term for Buddhist priest: bouzu.
  • Hairstyle of warawa: warawa.
  • Hairstyle of wakashu: wakashu-mage.
  • Hairstyle of yarou: yarou. (or yarou-atama.)
  • Hairstyle of bouzu: bouzu.

I'm starting to think Japan has a thing for naming hair after stereotypes.

Yarou Referring to Kabuki Actors

The term yarou could also refer to actors in the kabuki 歌舞伎 theater. The reason for this is that, in yarou-kabuki 野郎歌舞伎, all the actors are adult men, yarou.

But to understand the yarou-kabuki, we need a little more of history, beginning with the kabuki played by women.

Onna-Kabuki 女歌舞伎

It all starts with the onna-kabuki 女歌舞伎, a kind of show performed by women around the start of the 17th century. They'd sing, they'd dance, sensually, and they'd offer the spectators "sex services," fuuzoku 風俗, too.

(it seems there were also cases of two or more men taking a liking of one of these women and ending up killing each other over her. I'm sure there's an anime somewhere that uses this as plot.)

Anyway, the government didn't like this fuuzoku bit, so they stepped in banned kabuki once and for all. Or rather, they specifically banned only the onna-kabuki 女歌舞伎, the kabuki show performed by women, in the year 1629.

This sudden lack of kabuki women ended up giving rise to the popularity of a different kind of kabuki: the wakashu-kabuki 若衆歌舞伎. [女歌舞伎から若衆歌舞伎へ -, 2018-10-18]

Wakashu-Kabuki 若衆歌舞伎

The wakashu-kabuki 若衆歌舞伎 was literally the same thing as the onna-kabuki, except that, instead of women, it had adolescent boys, wakashu, crossdressing to play the part of women.

To be clear: the was wakashu-kabuki was really literally the same thing, specially the prostitution part. It was known for dealing with "male homosexuality," nanshoku 男色. And the word wakashudou 若衆道, lit. "path [of the] wakashu," was even a term for pederasty.

So the government stepped in and decided to ban wakashu-kabuki too, in 1652.

(note: nanshoku 男色 is an archaic term, it isn't how you'd refer to homosexuality today. It has the kanji for "color," iro 色, probably for the same reason iroke 色気, "sensuality," has it, which is probably the same reason "colorful language" means what it means in English.)

Yarou-Kabuki 野郎歌舞伎

The yarou-kabuki 野郎歌舞伎 is the kabuki played by yarou, adult men. At first glance it looks like it's the same thing as the onna-kabuki and wakashu-kabuki that were banned, but there was a major difference: it was the fixed version of wakashu-kabuki.

After wakashu-kabuki was banned, it was re-allowed under two conditions: first, that the actors had shaven their heads into yarou-atama, with shaven sakayaki and no forelocks, which symbolized they were adults; and second, that the kabuki didn't feature sensual dances, instead focusing on kyougen 狂言, a comic form of theater. [物真似狂言尽 - 世界大百科事典 - via, 2018-10-18]

Again, because the sakayaki was part of genpuku, the coming-of-age ceremony, and the term wakashu referred to boys before genpuku, i.e. underage, this head-shaving thing basically implied the wakashu actors weren't underage wakashu anymore, but instead adult men, yarou.

It sounds like the weirdest loophole ever to me, but that's how I'm understanding it.

Since they weren't wakashu but yarou now, the kabuki they played wasn't wakashu-kabuki, but yarou-kabuki 野郎歌舞伎.

So this is the history of how the yarou-kabuki came to be. And how it survived where onna-kabuki and wakashu-kabuki did not.

Note that, nowadays, in modern Japan, the laws that govern this stuff are different, but the idea that kabuki is played not by women, but solely by men, yarou, got stuck. Including the fact some of them have to crossdress to fit the female role, the so-called oyama 女形 role.

Yarou-Boushi 野郎帽子

The term yarou-boushi 野郎帽子, literally "yarou hat" or "yarou cap," refers to a cap used by the yarou playing a female role in yarou-kabuki that hid the sakayaki of their yarou-atama from the audience. [やろう‐ぼうし〔ヤラウ‐〕【野郎帽子】 -, 2018-10-18]

野郎帽子, 紫帽子 illustration by 歌舞伎のイラストレーション研究所!
Illustration by: Kabuki Illustration Laboratory! 歌舞伎のイラストレーション研究所!
Post: 片はづし003<紫帽子>付き -, 2018-10-21

As illustrated above, the hat is iconically purple. Hence its other name: murasaki-boushi 紫帽子, "purple cap." Also, as you can see, it's about as much of a hat as a Team Fortress 2 hat is a hat.

Another illustration:

Since the yarou-atama symbolized you were an adult man, the audience would have a hard time believing a half-bald yarou was indeed the woman his character was supposed to be. Hence why the actors wore the hat: to hide their sakayaki 月代, and make their role more believable.

(also, they probably couldn't wear wigs for some reason or another, otherwise this whole hair deal wouldn't make any sense.)

Male Prostitute

The word yarou 野郎 can also refer to a "male prostitute," as in, not heterosexual, but dealing with "male homosexuality," nanshoku 男色.

The reason for this comes from the above, to recap:
  1. Kabuki had a lot of fuuzoku in it.
  2. Yarou-kabuki had yarou actors.
  3. The term yarou also referred to the actors of yarou-kabuki.
  4. Those yarou of yarou-kabuki fuuzoku'd too.

In other words: yarou could refer to male prostitutes because yarou could refer to actors of yarou-kabuki, adult men, yarou, who were sometimes male prostitutes.

Other terms also gained this sort of definition, with similar reasoning to the above.

Including wakashu 若衆.

There's also kagema 陰間, that originally referred to an actor that didn't enter the stage.

[for a list of historic fuuzoku terms, see: ふうぞくの巻 - - via]

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