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Hamster Butts (Japanese: ハムケツ, hamuketsu) is a Japanese photo fad highlighting the buttocks of the furry rodents from the rear side view, which was inspired by a book with the same name published in March 2014.
Photos highligiting hamsters buttocks began circulating among Japanese hamster owners’ Twitter in May 2012. A twitter post known as the first instance which gave hamsters buttocks the nickname “Hamuketsu”, a portmanteau of the Japanese words for “Ham(ster)” and “Ketsu” (Buttocks), was uploaded on May 16th, 2012 by a Japanese mangaka Megumi Hisai.
— 久井めぐみ「元祖ハムケツ5月30日発売」 (@megumihisai) May 16, 2012
“All in all, Hamuketsu is the best.”
Inspired by the cute photos and its catchy nickname, it quickly became a popular activity among hamster owners to post their own “Hamuketsu” photos to that social network. A Naver Matome page reprinting many of those Hamuketsu photos was launched just 2 days after the first Twitter post, and the word “Hamuketsu” was added to a famous Japanese online glossary Hatena Keyword on 23rd in that month. However, it had to wait the following year for further spreading.
On November 7th, 2013, a Japanese online gossip news ITmedia NetLab posted an article about the Hamuketsu fad on Twitter by citing that Naver Matome page. By being shared this post and articles of many affi-blogs re-quoting a 2channel’s thread quoting that post, Hamuketsu finally succeeded to reach to the masses. Hamuketsu photos are not only posted to Twitter and Instagram, but are also archived in ハムケツ.com, a blog page capitalizing on this fad that was launched on December 13th.
On March 12th, 2014, driven by to the online popularity of the hamster butts, a Japanese book featuring photographs of hamster butts titled “Hamuketsu” was published by Basilico Co. (shown below left). A second book on hamster butt photos titled “Hamuketsu – So Cute You Could Faint” (かわいさに悶絶 ハムケツ, Kawaisa-ni Monzetsu Hamuketsu) was published by Sekai Bunka Publishing Inc. on April 19th, 2014 (shown below, center). As of May 2014, over 40,000 copies of the two titles have been sold. That same day, a Facebook page for hamuketsu was launched to promote the book. As of May 2014, the page has gained over 9,000 likes. A third book of hamster butt photos titled “The Original Hamuketsu” (元祖ハムケツ, Ganso Hamuketsu) is scheduled to be published by Arimine Shoten Shinsya Co. on May 30th.
Appeal Outside of Japan
On April 3rd, 2014, the first English-language coverage of the book publication was provided by Kotaku East. On May 21st, The Wall Street Journal published an article titled “Photos of Hamster Rear Ends Are Hit in Japan.” The piece focused on the photo trend and books, with a employee of Basilico Co., the publisher of the first book, explaining the photos’ appeal:
“The great thing about hamuketsu is that it is delightfully cute. I can’t stop smiling when I see these butts.”
That same week, many English-language news sites covered the photo trend, including New York Daily News, The Rakyat Post, and Gawker. On May 22nd, the photo trend was featured on the morning news show The Today Show during Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford’s daily segment. The same day several websites covered the photo trend including USA Today, Death and Taxes and NBC News.
Kotaku – A Facebook Page Dedicated Entirely to Hamster Butts / 04-03-2014
The New York Daily – What’s so cute about hamsters’ butts? Photos of furry rear ends popular in Japan / 05-21-2014