friend

Kimono, rainbow face, and look who’s in the background

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Love the kimono guy’s outfit, which included a leather strap attached to his bald head. Well done. My Argentinian friend is in the background.

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Waiting at JR Nakano Station

Last week I was waiting for a friend at the Nakano JR station. He was late, but it didn’t matter. That station is one of my favorite people watching spots. At any time of day or night, there are always people waiting at the North Exit for friends to show up. Nakano has none of the desperate fashion extremes of Shibuya or Harajuku (fueled largely by suburban visitors, no doubt), but always a fun mix of mod, retro, regular and unique styles. I like this young guy’s studied indifference to being watched and photographed. Not sure about the 70s shark skin jacket, but I love the over-sized man-bag and boots. Plus the photo includes a bonus salaryman’s back side.

Dress code for US aircraft carrier

A friend has been invited for a private tour of a US aircraft carrier, and asked me what would be appropriate dress code. Other than anti-war protests, my only direct experience with the Navy is Cher’s “If I could turn back time.” For Cher, a super-sized wig, thong, minimal V-shaped fabric covering the front, metallic belt, fish nets, garters and high heeled boots seemed to make the sailors smile and dance in her video.

What would you recommend? Are double butt tattoos mandatory for aircraft visits?

Queer-Straight Divide

Out the door

As many of my readers know, I am maintaining two blogs: this one about personal interests (ranging oddly from flowers to pottery to male hair and female geeks), and another about a public policy research project sponsored by a prominent foundation and corporation. I have purposely not linked the two blogs, so as to provide more freedom for me to write candidly about my thoughts and interests in this blog.

Prior to moving to Tokyo, I have always been out. Youthful activism and a hostile academic environment shaped my professional career in unexpected ways. It is ironic that the elite academic department that blacklisted me is one that claims a dedication to cultural relativism and openness. I have no regrets, and have been able to reclaim and re-purpose my academic training into a career first in industry and now in public policy.

Creating a new life in Tokyo presents new challenges to a queer identity. With no threat of anti-gay violence in Japan, the flip side is a complete expectation of heterosexuality. And, for the first time, perhaps because of middle age, a new environment, a desire to “be harmonious,” and the sheer quantity of new people I meet every week, I feel an unfamiliar hesitation to challenge conceptions when I am asking new contacts for help and orientation.

This has led to some awkward situations for me. Continue reading long post