Thu 28 Oct 2010
WARNING: There is some content that may make you squeamish. You know the drill.
Okay, I know why my wife is teaching the Japanese language. It apparently involves a coin toss in high school. But, whoa-Nelly, what a kooky culture.
I know, I know: glass houses and tossing stones and all. I haven’t made it a secret about how I feel about contemporary American society. I am a part of this milieued morass of psychotic consumer-self-possessed-sycophantic-superficial-debt-ridden-center-of-the-universe-ism. I hate it, and yet I am a part of it.
For example: I am right now sitting in a local coffee shop listening to conversations that make me nauseous. Most of the rejoinders in these conversations begin with the phrase, “Well I …” And yet, I am sure that at some point today, I too will, with relish, commit wholly to a conversation just like the ones that are presently turning my stomach.
But I digress.
I have often wondered what a young Chinese woman who works twelve hours a day for meager subsistent wages thinks when she is making of these for Americans.
Okay, secondary tangent, sorry.
Now, back to Japan. Again, I understand the stones and glass houses issue … but here is my first stone.
Condom machines. I don’t know if you have seen a condom machine in America. Essentially there are three or four condoms available. And you got your ticklers or ribbed, your studded or twisted, and something with either long-lasting or sensation causing lubrication. SIDE NOTE: The condoms in Scotland are all flavored, and by flavored I mean from Scotch to mustard to curry. Okay, whatever.
In Japan, you purchase your condom based on blood type.
You might need to see that again.
In Japan, you purchase your condom based on blood type. What? How seemingly arbitrary and yet statistically minded.
Okay, and how about the following photo of a claw machine in Japan. Can you see it? Those round gelatinous orbs are single breasts — fully nippled and areolaed, I might add. And the claw machine’s name? Tora 3: Tora Tora Tora? Sound familiar? The “go” words to attack Pearl Harbor in 1941. I mean, seriously? What the fuck? Does this make sense to anyone? Or is that the point?
How about this child’s toy?
Yes. You can shave your own baby, who, inexplicably, has pubic and underarm hair, not to mention a ring of ankle hair that would make Borat proud. Plus, it’s a ginger. Nice touch. This image, by the by, comes from a web site called “Japan is Weird.com.”
For a society that we imagine is so buttoned-up, they really do like to let it all hang out.
Take for example the Kanamara Matsuri. Any guess as to what this might be? Let me help you: it is a yearly festival. Anything?
Let me translate it for you. Kanamara Matsuri translates to “Festival of the Steel Phallus.” Yup. It’s a yearly penis festival. A veritable huzzah to the immortal Steely Dan — if you follow that pop allusion. This festival has recently gotten some pull on the Internet. It has made its rounds among the juvenile (like me) who are slapping at the thin walls of their own repression. Click this link if you dare. This ain’t your mama’s Hobie Day’s festival. Let me just say that the confections sold at this festival are not available at your local Fannie Farmer and Russell Stover outlet.
I don’t know where I stand, actually. I would like to believe that I am somewhere in the middle, between the insane America, where the dolls are abdominally ripped and thin but sexless, and the dualistic Japan where this can happen:
I guess I would rather that our sexuality be out there and understood, unrepressed and open, than closeted and dirty, untouchable and sinful.
Wow, did this post take a turn. I thought I was just going to talk about Hello Kitty and Pokemon.
Was that dirty?