"For if there is one single truth about Asia, it is that while each country there is totally different from every other country, Japan is the most different of them all." These words, written by World famous author Pearl Buck in her literary classic The People of Japan, are as accurate today as when they were written almost 40 years ago.
WARNING TO JAPANESE /JAPANOPHILES
After doing AMPLE research on Japanese history and having spent more than a month traveling the country from end to end, I have formed some very strong opinions of Japanese people/culture (the "we Japanese" attitude in particular) which are quite negative. Given the common perception that most Westerners have of Japanese people which is very positive, I intend to express the "other side of the story" and the factual basis thereof. This may offend some, and I emphasize that the opinions stated are personal and are not necessarily endorsed by. I certainly invite debate and critical response from those who disagree, but request that expressions of disagreement be supported by facts rather than flames from the ignorant.
The TATAEMAE Versus the HONNE
The common perception of Japanese people is one of unfailing politeness and helpfulness and most short term visitors will likely come away with a view of the people which is predominantly positive . Japanese people do often go out of their way to assist foreign travelers in ways that would be unlikely in the US or Europe. Courtesy is more than "common", it is expected and almost unfailing. Incredibly efficient, hardworking , organized and honest, these positive attributes identify the Japanese psyche. Other commentators have noted that "collectively, they [the Japanese] are bastards but individually, they are the most pleasant people you would ever want to meet". I wholeheartedly agree. The ugly underside of Japanese culture, the "we Japanese" attitude, may not be immediately visible to the untrained eye. But if one looks hard beneath the superficial veneer of ivility and respect, and if one examines both historical and current evidence which is much more than anecdotal, the ugly underside is unmistakable and ever present. For no other people on Earth harbor such an invidious and deep seated condescension for all gaijin (literally "outsiders") as do the Japanese. To the reader who may ask incredulously "how can such seemingly nice people really be such beasts", I say read on grasshopper, for the answer is found both in their history and in the Japanese psyche itself.
Having such a large number of persons confined in a relatively small area, certain social conventions arose out of the necessity of avoiding acrimony within the all important "group"(their culture, like many Asian cultures, strongly stresses "group rights" over individual interests). One of the most prominent of these is the learned aversion to what we gaijin call "really speaking one's mind". Rather, over the centuries the Japanese have learned to almost never say what they really think or mean. You must understand that they have simply learned to operate with two mutually contradictory modes of dealing with the outside world, the tatemae and the honne. Tatemae refers to one's outward appearance or public face while the honne is what one REALLY thinks. It said that you can know a Japanese for his/her whole life yet never know their honne. In their worldview, it is perfectly consistent to be very friendly and helpful to gaijin on a superficial level, while really looking at them in a condescending fashion and believing them to be inferior because they are not Japanese.
While not all Japanese fervently maintain the ugly attitude discussed below, it appears that a fair sized portion do (less prevalent among younger people so there IS hope) and while there are certainly redeeming aspects, once you get beneath the superficial "helpfulness" you will realize that the fact that Japanese are despised by virtually all other INFORMED asian people is neither racist nor inspired by envy. Rather, you will find that their reputation as the MFs of East Asia is very well deserved, both historically AND CURRENTLY.
With the caveat that I believe in cultural relativism, all cultures have their strengths ands weaknesses and none is "better" than any other, Japanese culture is truly an enigma on the World stage. For while it many ways it represents the pinnacle of human accomplishment, it is also a paradigm of man's inhumanity to man. The women are a whole different story.
GETTING THERE-hellbent on regaining the Premier Executive status I lost when United stopped serving the PI, I flew on United from SFO-Tokyo at a cost of $600. United to HK, SIN or other more distant destinations is virtually the same price but tixs to Japan are ALWAYS more expensive per mile flown than other venues despite the ample competition (all of the big 3 US carriers fly there as does virtually every major international carrier). This is just the first of many annoying facts making Japan THE most expensive country on earth to visit. The Yen was trading at 105 to the US Dollar (it was 140 during my first visit in August-September of â€98) making it a BAD exchange, unlike Europe where the Euro is pathetically weak making visits to EC countries particularly economical at this time. Whoever thought than NAIA in Manila was the worst airport (as I USED to) has not dealt with Narita. Aside from the incredible overcrowding (a portent of things to come) and costs for food and airport transport (although I will give a tip on this issue making it possible to get to Tokyo for $10 versus the $200+ which a taxi would require), it is trying to connect to a domestic flight where it really gets difficult! Remember before PAL"s new terminal when you flew into Manila on another airline and had to pay $10 or so for the 30 minute slog through traffic to the domestic terminal? In Tokyo, you need to go to an entirely different AIRPORT (Haneda which is South of town while Narita is 60kms Northeast) and go through the heart of city traffic to get there. How does a $30, two hour, busride sound after flying transpacific? Narita has a very few domestic flights, but unless your international flight arrives fortuitously arrives just before the one daily domestic flight (or so) to your venue you are SOL. One solution if you wish to connect to domestic flights from overseas (while many Asian cities have direct flights to other airports like Fukuoka, Nagoya etc but from US or Europe it is either Narita or Kansai near Osaka) is to fly China airlines (despite its spotty safety record) which flies to Haneda because the mainland Chinese airlines refuse to land at the same airport (PRC's obsession with Taiwan).
TSM OPTIONS-As indicated in the preview, I will summarize the TSM options known to me in each area covered before discussing the other aspects of travel to those areas. Let me say here that if you do not speak GOOD Japanese and/or have buiness or personal connections with a knowledgeable local (I had neither), the options are LIMITED. If you fall in EITHER of these categories, I STRONGLY suggest that you limit your TSM activities to Tokyo & surrounding areas where English is MUCH more widely spoken, and where the racism and xenophobia that is ABSOLUTELY PERVASIVE throughout Japan is SOMEWHAT less acute.
SAPPORO, HOKKAIDO- On the Northernmost island of Hokkaido, THE place for TSM type activities is in the Suskino district, about 1 mile South of central Sapporo (largest city & host to 1972 Winter Olympics). If you go anytime except midsummer, expect MUCH snow & FREEZING temps-I was there in mid April & it snowed PLENTY (good for snowboarding-my main reason for going to "the frozen north"). It is quite close to Sakhalin island (Easternmost Russia) and many Russian tourists visit there. If it is to escape the cold ,then Siberia must REALLY be cold!
Suskino is literally wall-to-wall soaplands, peep shows, hostess clubs etc, my kind of district. It is 2 exits south from Sapporo station on the subway. When you hit the street, you want to go South a few more blocks to find the heart of the pink area. In Japan, pink signifies sex. A wiggle of the little finger is also sybolic of that which you are sweeking-this is an expression they understand. If you see pink on a neon sign, odds are it has something to do with sex. The prices of the soaplands were clearly posted and looked quire reasonable (compared to the high prices charged in soaplandos discussed in TSM archives, WSG and elsewhere). Unfortunately, almost EVERYTHING is strictly off-limits to you as "sangokujin"-meaning "third country person" (anything but a Japanese)and even more derogatory than the more widely used "gaijin". This more insulting term has just been resurrected by Tokyo Prefecture Governor Ishihara but more on that in the Tokyo area section. There are cluster of soaplands with many photos pasted on the hallway walls listing measurements and age (the numbers are the only thing legible to the 99.9% of the World who cannot read Kanji). There are photo catalogues open for display from which you can order the companion you want. The base price for 60 minute sessions is around US$100, less for 30 minute sessions. Unlike similar districts in other areas of Japan, I saw no flags from Southeast Asian nations (Philippine being the most common) indicating the presence of ladies from that country. Perhaps Hokkaido is just too cold for them. The bummer is that despite trying MANY places the uniform response was either "a curt "Japanese Only" or giggles that I had the audacity to even ask if they would serve the infidels.
With the help of a taxi driver, I did find an interesting strip club that would tolerate the presence of an inferior (in their minds) race. Cost of admission was Y3500 (US$33) with a coupon I got from the barkers (Y4500 without it). Strangely, the barkers stand a few blocks away from the actual club. The club is near the intersection of West 5 and south 6. It is right across from a tall building saying "City boys" in one upper corner and "city girls" in the other corner. Noone tips (only redeeming feature about Japan but it does NOT make Japanese popular with service employees in other countries) so the admission fee is your sole cost (unlike strip clubs in most countries where tipping is virtually obligatory if you want to have fun). The one "extra" available is that some of the dancers will allow you to take explicit polaroids of them which, at 500 Yen each is not a bad priced souvenir. Quality of dancers ranged from 6 to 9. Very well lit but a tad hot. No smoking allowed (a godsend and an increasingly common one in public spaces-if only restaurants could get with the program). Fairly crowed. Dancers rotated, I estimate about 8 to 10 total. One massaged her own clit into a quite convincing O (could have been faked but very well done if not real). Others allowed audience to smack their ass with bullwhip (several had S&S or bondage element to show). A fun diversion which heightened interest ultimately squelched by zealous enforcement of the Japanese only policy at the numerous venues providing relief.
HIROSHIMA PREFECTURE-At the Southwestern end of Honshu (Japan's main island) is Hiroshima, site of the A-bomb target, one of Japan's 3 renowned best views (Miyajima Island) & the infamous Club Underground bar. In Hiroshima City, Shintenchi & Nagarekawa, about 1 km Southwest of the Eki (train station), are the entertainment districts. They are about 1 km East from the A Bomb Dome/Peace Park Area. There are numerous hotels and international restaurants right in the zone. There are also noticeably more foreigners than in Hokkaido. The climate here was fairly balmy, high 70s by day and 60s at night. The busy entertainment district looks similar to Suskino (albeit warmer), ample neon, narrow streets & alleys packed with drinking clubs of all types. One conspicuous addition was the presence of Philippine flags on some bars indicating the sweet fruit was there for the plucking. Now we are getting somewhere. Still fortified by a pocket full of yen and a scrotum full of yankee seed, I searched long and hard for an attractive receptacle in which to deposit my binary load. Unfortunately, it was here that the MF "Japanese only" policy was to rear its ugly head again & again. After the umpteenth racial exclusion, I tried reasoning with one chimpira outside a Philippine decorated establishment. I opined that Filipinas speak English and love we American sangokujin but to no avail. When the street girls employed to leaflet by the various bars and soaplands wont make eye contact or hand you a flyer, it is safe to assume that their employer is a bigoted establishment. I dressed nicely (the Japanese are very strict about dressing smart & personal hygene ) so that is no explanation. In sum, more frustration and no action in Hiroshima City.
CLUB UNDERGROUND-This establishment, reported on on TSM several times within the last year, is in Iwakuni, about 45 minutes South of Hiroshima City (technically just across the border in Yamaguchi Prefecture). The area is very industrial, none too attractive (not that many Japanese cities are) and hosts Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. Iwakuni's layout is a bit confusing as there are several cluters. Club Underground is in a cluster of entertainment venues on the main road just outside the base. There is a Filipina hostess bar ("Tony's" I think) where some Marines I befriended said you can publically grope a fair bit for just the cost of their lady's drinks. Being Japan, I believe the ladys drinks to be somewhere around $20 but I didn't come this far for a hostess bar. I went on Friday night (only Friday & Saturday have noticeable action so plan accordingly) and arrived at midnight and it was maybe half full. NEVER go before midnight-prime time is probably from about 1 to 3 am (close at 4).
As you might expect, English is widely spoken here and Marines (or the children of Marines) will make up over 90% of your fellow whoremongers. You are thinking Hmm, sounds like Fields Ave. lying just outside the former Clark Air Force Base. Sorry to burst your bubble because while this area is an interesting diversion, another Balibago it ain't.
here to see the photos
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