Tokyo university’s ‘Beautiful Girls’ encyclopedia a huge hit

Flash May 5
Flash May 5

The annual “May Festival” at highly esteemed University of Tokyo, is a chance for the various student clubs and societies of the highly esteemed institution of learning to present a more playful side through various performances, games and food stalls.

At last year’s event, all 300 copies of the “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Beautiful Girls of the University of Tokyo” put up for sale by the club Stems UT were sold. The book, whose intent, as implied in the title, is to provide an introduction to some of the more attractive women on the campus, proved to be a hit once again at a similar festival in the fall, only this time it was 1,000 copies.

The third printing of the title will be available for this year’s May Festival, and weekly tabloid Flash (May 5) takes a look at its production.

The book, which began as a project undertaken by five students two years ago, includes a collection of photographs and articles.

“With the exception of the printing, everything — the photography, interviews, layout and design and editing — is done by members of the club,” says fourth-year legal student Hirotaka Sato.

The popularity of the “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Beautiful Girls of the University of Tokyo” has not been limited to the university — or even Japan for that matter. According to Sato, China’s People’s Daily ran a feature on the book.

“I am surprised at the ripple effect it has had; it was more than a I had imagined was possible,” says Sato.

On an unspecified afternoon, a reporter for Flash travels with the club on a shoot. In front of the university’s Red Gate, a photo session commences with three girls. But before the scribe knows it the crew is packing up and heading off to the next location.

The club uses the train system to scout locations across the metropolis, from Fuchu to Toyoshu. Perhaps surprisingly to Flash’s readership (and that of The Tokyo Reporter, for that matter), the setting and arrangement of the photographs are very wholesome. The book’s Twitter feed (@UTsweetheart) has in recent weeks provided a number of different images, including a girl strumming a shamisen and others featuring students posing beneath cherry blossoms.

As to the models, they appear pleased with the results. One girl tells Flash that she initially had an issue with the title “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Beautiful Girls of the University of Tokyo” but that was quickly smoothed over once the shooting started.

Though a fourth-year engineering student admitted to being a tad embarrassed when the book was included a report by a television station, another happily presented the book to her family.

“I showed it to my Grandmother with pleasure,” says a fourth-year literature student.

This year’s “May Festival” will be held on May 16 and 17. (A.T.)

Source: “Ninki futto no shashin-shu ‘Todai bijo zukan’ satsuei genba ni mitchaku,” Flash (May 5)

Note: Brief extracts from Japanese vernacular media in the public domain that appear here were translated and summarized under the principle of “fair use.” Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy of the translations. However, we are not responsible for the veracity of their contents. The activities of individuals described herein should not be construed as “typical” behavior of Japanese people nor reflect the intention to portray the country in a negative manner. Our sole aim is to provide examples of various types of reading matter enjoyed by Japanese.

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