Ikemen (Japanese: イケメン) is a term commonly used in Japan since the mid-2000s to refer to metrosexuals.
The term ikemen is derived from the Japanese words ikeru or iketeru and menzu. Ikeru and iketeru mean "cool", "good" and "exciting", while menzu stands for "men". This term has been used to reference good looking men featured in Japanese pop culture.
Ikemen are typically characterized as being sharply dressed individuals with slanted, intelligent eyes, husky voices, slender wrists and fingers, a manly build, an unruffled appearance, pale skin, and clean smelling with an air of mystery around them. Ikemen are typically reserved with the ability to become passionate in their interests with the impression that they are literary geniuses. Unlike the feminine bishounen, ikemen are considered manly, good looking men.
It is believed that the concept of ikemen and older, male-like men may have stemmed from a stylized transformation of the wakashu aesthetic of a beautiful boy-like nobleman during the Edo period in kabuki plays.
The concept of ikemen has been developed for various Japanese and Korean dramas such as the popular Korean drama called Winter Sonata (겨울연가), Stairway to Heaven (천국의 계단) and Ikemen desu ne (美男ですね). Unlike popular men in American culture who are popular due to their outstanding physical and personal attributes, ikemen often focus on “feminine” qualities that balance out masculine qualities of a good looking man. Ikemen in Korean and Japanese dramas are showcased as having patience, gentleness, and the ability to self-sacrifice for the woman they love while being able to express a wide range of human emotion. These traits are seen as desirable, as Japanese culture find clever, self-centered, and larger than life figures to be both intimidating and unappealing.
Ikemen characters are seen in various genres of anime and manga, especially in dating simulations and visual novels for women (also known as otome games). Men in visual novels such as Hakouki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom (薄桜鬼 〜新選組奇譚〜) and manga such as Ikemen Paradise (花ざかりの君たちへ イケメン♂パラダイス) often are portrayed as mysterious, strong, damaged, and passionate men who often times have a throng of female admirers.
Professional wrestler Jiro Kuroshio portrays an Ikemen character, reflected in his ring attire, hair, wrestling style and mannerisms. He has also adopted "Ikemen" as part of his ring name.