801 is a widely accepted code for the word “yaoi” used mainly among fans of the BL genre, especially within the doujinshi community. Nowadays, younger fans rarely use 801. However, many older fans still use it as passwords to open access to their R-18 works. This code is also the reason why Yaoi Day falls on August 1.
The number 8, which has the kanji character of 八, can be read as “ya” in Japanese. Meanwhile, the number 0 can also be read as “o” (or pronounced as “oh”), and the number 1, which kanji character is 一, can be read as “i.” When interpreted this way, the numbers 801 can be read as “yaoi.”
An acronym of “Yama nashi, Ochi nashi, Imi nashi,” “Yaoi” as a term used among fans began during the late 1970s, and the number 801 as a signifier of yaoi was often found written in doujinishi. Even after the term Boys’ Love became more commonly used, 801 could still be found on doujinshi covers. During the late 1990s and early 2000s when personal websites became popular to distribute fanworks, many doujinshi creators had their own websites. 801 often was used as a password to access yaoi-related content that their websites hosted. Using and knowing the meaning of 801 was a way to gatekeep and protect the community from public scrutiny and from audiences who were either underaged or were not interested in Yaoi.
Depicting the author’s daily life, who is an otaku, and his girlfriend, who is a fujoshi, Tonari no 801-chan was an essay manga initially published as blog entries. The manga became increasingly famous and was adapted into a book and a movie that popularized the idea of 801.
With the rise of social media, which allowed more convenient means to reach audiences, Yaoi content became much more accessible, and the usage of 801 as a password began to decline. The widespread usage of Pixiv as an alternative to host both original and fanworks compared to personal websites was also one of the reasons.
801: Modern Usage
While 801’s usage is diminishing, it does not mean the word itself has become extinct. Although the younger generation of fans is less familiar with the meaning of 801, 801 continues. The increasingly common use of Privatter among Japanese creators on Twitter has also brought back the trend of 801 being used as a password to access R-18 BL content. Fan creators who specifically create content for real-life person ships and fandoms (such as tokusatsu, sentai, or idol genres) also often use 801 for gatekeeping purposes.
About futekiya: BL manga subscription
In 2018, futekiya began as a Boys’ Love manga news and culture website operated by FANTASISTA, INC., a CG/VR production studio based in Tokyo, Japan. futekiya transformed into a budding global distributor of officially licensed BL manga in 2019.
futekiya launched as an online subscription service for officially licensed BL manga on July 8, 2019. Determined to connect fans around the world with English-translated BL legally and conveniently, futekiya empowers readers to support creators and the manga industry.
Readers who subscribe to futekiya and pay a flat monthly fee of $6.99 will have access to our expanding library of English-language manga. To subscribe, please go to read.futekiya.com and create an account. More information is in our Guide.