is a Japanese
word originally derived from a Chinese expression written with the same characters. The Chinese characters
(少 & 女) literally mean young/little/few
respectively. In Japanese, these kanji refer specifically to a young woman approximately 7-18 years old. Shōjo
can often be translated with the English word girl
The kanji compound can also be pronounced otome, although otome (meaning "maiden") is more commonly written with the kanji .
Like most kanji
compounds, the term shōjo is borrowed from Classical Chinese characters
, probably via Korea
. The term 少女 is pronounced shao nu
romanization), so nyŏ
romanization), and shōjo
), although, as noted above, it can also be pronounced otome
The earliest surviving written record of the term 少女 is on the Book of the Later Han, published in China in the 5th century, in Chapter 86, The myth of Yao, referring to young girls.
Translation: The myth of Yao: the country is being invaded by barbarians, the king is looking for warriors who are capable of taking the head of the general of the invading army, and for this the king will award (a) thousand Yi of gold, (a) myriad of houses and young girl(s) as their wife/wives.''
In the 7th century, the word was introduced into the Japanese language through the adoption of the Chinese-style Ritsuryō legal system, where it referred to females between the ages of 17 and 20.
In legal settings, shōjo
is a subset of shōnen
) and refers to any female juvenile who has not reached the age of 20.
In Japan, the word shōjo has many applications outside of the law. It refers to anything of, for, or about school-age girls, often with romantic connotations. Examples include shōjo manga, shōjo culture, shōjo novels, shōjo hobbies, and shōjo fashions, among others.
- Shojo Beat, a shōjo manga magazine published in North America by Viz Media
- Shōjo Comic, a shōjo manga magazine published twice monthly in Japan by Shogakukan since 1968
- Shōjo Friend, a defunct manga magazine formerly published by Kodansha