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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 5/2/18

Tokyo Dreaming

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In the past, Japanese merged with their plow, pottery, brush and sword. Now, they strive to be at one with their office cubicle, pachinko machine and Gucci bag.

Disaffected, the Japanese don't mug and loot, but geek or drop out, thus you have the anime and manga nerds, hikikomori recluses who sometimes assault their parents with baseball bats and legions of virginal young men, dubbed "herbivores," who don't even try to have a girlfriend.

Such alienation was anticipated in Kawabata's gently creepy House of the Sleeping Beauties (1961), which depicts a brothel where men pay to merely sleep with a naked, unconscious woman. It begins:

He was not to do anything in bad taste, the woman of the inn warned old Eguchi. He was not to put his finger into the mouth of the sleeping girl, or try anything else of that sort.

One evening, the protagonist arrived to find out the madame had provided him and his drugged beauty with an electric blanket having two switches:

"An interesting idea, a blanket that two people can adjust to suit themselves."

"It's American. But please don't be difficult and turn off the girl's side. You understand, I'm sure, that she won't wake up, no matter how cold she gets."

Ah, the progressive comfort of not quite sharing a blanket! It's American. In the US, there's now a phenomenon called the half-night stand, where the casual sex partner leaves right after the act, to avoid any post-coital awkwardness.

The breakdown of community and extended family in all Americanized societies have resulted in anomic individuals who see no needs for any human relationship that isn't mechanically sexual.

Since sex sans intimacy is their true aim, many find it best to bypass the seeing, argumentative body altogether, so now you have widespread porn addiction and a vast array of masturbatory aids, with Japanese companies leading the way.

From Tenga, there's the Iroha Mikazuki, "This vibrator delivers a soft undulating ocean-like sensation to the female erogenous zones. This pastel colored vibrator is covered in a unique 'Soft Touch' silicone that is naturally smooth in texture and can repel dust and be used underwater."

If you're still heartbroken after being weaned from breast feeding so many moons ago, there's the Japanese Mother Breast Milk Heaven Lotion from Kanojo Toys, "The generously sized bottle contains a lube that uniquely replicates the feel and smell of breast milk (but without any of the issues regarding hygiene)."

When not dropping out, Japanese overwork, sometimes to death from a heart attack or a stroke, and there's even a term, karojisatsu, for workers driven to suicide.

Japanese arrange suicide pacts with internet buddies. In one 2005 case, seven young people, including a 14-year-old girl, died in two cars, 30 miles apart. Among developed nations, Japan has the highest rate of suicides, and they ingest more anti-depressants than anyone else on earth.

Though already told that Japanese don't talk to strangers in bars, I gave it a try anyway, hence I met two ladies at iBrew, on the edge of Ginza. In their mid-30's, one had been a manager at an upscale department store, but quit because "the work was too much." Now a housewife, Ayako showed me, on her phone, dinners she had prepared for her husband, and I was immediately struck by the artfulness of her food arrangement. "It is common," she said of the exquisite care, love and nurtured tradition on display.

Her friend was a pastry chef who had trained in Paris and had worked for two years in Indonesia. Photos of her creations also betrayed tremendous love and artistry. Interestingly, Yoko preferred the relative chaos and spontaneity of Indonesia to overly regimented Japan. "I'd like to live there."

Ayako had done some traveling, so I asked for her favorite city. "Prague!" she immediately answered.

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Linh Dinh's Postcards from the End of America has just been published by Seven Stories Press. Tracking our deteriorating socialscape, he maintains a photo blog.

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