Before visiting his family in Japan for the first time, a college friend of mine rolled himself a joint to smoke on the way to the airport. “What? It’s not like they can arrest me for being a little high at airport security. By the time I’m in Japan I’ll feel rested and refreshed.” He tucked the spliff into his breast pocket and fell asleep.
The next day—astonishingly—went off without a hitch; the hours of public transportation, security, boarding, pre-departure, and a nine-hour flight flew by. After a quick stop at baggage claim, and a chat at customs he found himself, on a crisp spring day, in Tokyo, Japan, just as the cherry blossoms began to bloom. He also found a rolled marijuana cigarette in his front breast pocket.
So you got into the JET Program, overpacked on expensive and unnecessary omiyage (souvenirs) and have flown off to Never-Never Land. Congratulations. Group A is now hundreds of overpacked, jet-lagged, sweaty boots on the ground in Tokyo, making the same mistakes new ALTs and CIRs always make.
Welcome to Japan, fish. Allow me to drop some knowledge on you: if you get to pick your seminar, there is no way for CLAIR to check that you’re actually attending seminars. The seminars are 100% worthless. They are thrown together at the last minute by crafty JETs looking for a free trip to Tokyo, and they are a horrible waste of time. You should not go to them unless they are taking attendance.
Here’s a trick: look out the window of your ridiculous expensive Keio Plaza hotel room. Guess what? You are in Tokyo. Why the hell are you in your hotel room on Tumblr? Why aren’t you out getting schwasted on all-you-can-drink and acting inappropriately in the way only an ignorant first-time-in-Japaner can while you’re still in a relatively consequence-free environment? Buy the ticket. Take the ride.
Now here is a (foreign) man who is enjoying his time in Japan.
Most offensive candy bar wrapper ever?
In Japan you are the most handsome man in the room. You are the spicy foreigner from a far-off land. Your worldly knowledge of foreign foods is staggeringly comprehensive. You have a hot accent. Your hair is the color of the opposite of night. Your eyes burn like lit cigarettes on a packed dancefloor.
In Japan you are an international man of mystery. Your smile is full of questions. Your trousers are full of answers. Your circumcision is exotic. You keep a plane ticket to anywhere-but-Japan in your back pocket and a green card on your ring finger. You walk like you’ve slept with American girls.
In Japan women pretend not to stare on the train. Schoolgirls giggle and whisper as you stride by. Husbands move their wives to the other side of the sidewalk. Mothers lock up their daughters.
In Japan you are King Kong on the Tokyo Sky Tree. You are the western vampire in Bon Temps. You are the prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack box; a chisled green-plastic soldier under all the candy corn. In the club you are like a bull in a vagina shop.
In Japan you are the flavor of the week: American vanilla. Your friendship is free English lessons. You are very good at using chopsticks. You smell like a foreigner. You look like [insert name of currently popular celebrity here].
You are very handsome (in Japan).
In Seattle I shared a three-bedroom apartment with one very cool girl and one very cool guy I met on Craigslist. As you might expect, it did not take long for us to become intimately familiar with each other’s sex noises. We tried to be courteous about it, but in close living situations sexual overlap is unavoidable. The girl and I shared a wall and unfortunately her headboard was up against that wall. On more than one occasion I contemplated cock-blocking her at a party. The wall was pretty thin. I never followed through; because I’m such a good guy.
Once, while the girl’s mom was visiting, the guy brought a girl home. He introduced her to us in the living room, then led her up the stairs to his room. We were sitting around the coffee table enjoying some ice tea when the chandelier began to shake. “Oh my! I think we’re having an earthquake!” We could barely contain our laughter. There was even one instance where all three of us were entertaining company at the same time and the building nearly collapsed.
I’ve heard most of my good friends having sex. I have heard my parents having sex. In Amsterdam, I heard sex in my student residence about every single night. At Oktoberfest I heard a couple having sex in the outdoor toilets at ten in the morning.
In three yeas of living in Japan, I have not once heard anyone having sex.
As densely populated as Japan is, you would think that there would be some sex noises in the crisp night air, but in my experience this does not seem to be the case. Granted, I live in a two-unit building and the woman upstairs is about ninety. Sex would probably be the end of her, though she is a tough old bird. I’ve stayed the night in other apartments and gone on long walks around residential areas. In my girlfriend’s apartment you could hear the neighbors talking two units away. I’m fairly certain everyone in that building has heard us.
Japanese people are deeply concerned with not inconveniencing others, and I suppose this applies to sex noises. I have always maintained that you can be as loud as you want if you’re having sex, but this value does not appear to be universal. Japanese apartments and houses are not particularly well-insulated against the cold or sound, so if things are getting hot inside it should be pretty apparent from the outside. Some have suggested that perhaps the Japanese just are not having much sex. The country has a low birth rate problem, and couples do not seem particularly affectionate in public.
But what about what goes on behind closed doors? What about the ubiquitous love hotels? Is that where the majority of the country’s sex is happening? Are we really so self-conscious about our sex noises that we must relegate them to cheap, windowless hotel rooms? I cannot accept this.
It’s summertime dammit, and I want to hear some sexing.
SAPPORO — Japan Today reported Thursday that Sapporo police are looking for a man suspected of throwing delicious Japanese mayo at some schoolgirls on Monday.
Be on the lookout for a man 25-40 years old, approximately 170cm (5’7”) with short hair and glasses.
Got to love a slow news day. “Well, he could be 25… or 40.” Throwing mayonnaise in a train station. And it gets printed… in English too. Only in Japan.
Pushing the 3button on your toilet seat (the butt button, Japan’s most significant technological contribution to the world of bathroom science) is more than an adventurous leap of faith. It is a self-actualizing action: a life-affirming tipping point. The essence of the Japanese conception of ヨロ (YORO, sometimes incorrectly called YOLO the way GOJIRA is mispronounced GODZILLA). It is this spirit, this philosophy of mind and body synergistic, that Horace had in mind when he wrote “Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero. trans. Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the future.” While pushing the button may be the first act of realizing, this mantra is not limited to rectal hygiene. There are opportunities to vigorously exercise and expel your YORO onto the world all around you.
It’s Friday, so you are likely gearing up to go out and, perhaps, get into some trouble tonight. You’ll head to the bar, have a few tasty brews, maybe some cheap beers to finish it off, wash it all down with a bad-idea bourbon. Think about talking to that girl across the room then chicken out and stumble home alone like you always do.
But do you know what you could be doing? Anything else. Will you be, like the gloriously skinny, stunningly white boy in the picture above, stripping completely naked and wrapping yourself in sumo-style traditional Japanese underwear (褌 fundoshi)? Will you be running with thousands other through icy cold water in the middle of the night, drunk out of your mind on sake, whiskey, soju and god-knows-what that 70-year-old man insisted that you pound, to crowd into a thousand-year-old temple to push and shove and elbow and fight your way to ropes to climb and slip and fall and break and bruise? This weekend will you find yourself sandwiched and squeezed between so much man-flesh like a bag of gummy bears in the back pocket of some guys skinny jeans on a hot summer day? Cry “YORO!” and let slip the hounds of war. Laughing and crying with every laborious breath; pissing yourself and throwing up at the same time until finally—FINALLY—grasping in your hand the blessed stick that is the object of so many thousands’ manly impetuses.
Do your weekend plans include public semi-nudity, socially-acceptable brawls and excessive public drunkenness? Because they could. YORO.
Photo: On my way by Dust Mason on Flickr.