Tattooed kewpie: bad boy or firefighter?!

I saw this amazing tattooed Kewpie in the middle of a display of dozens of good luck ornaments at the Hanazono Shinto shrine for the Torinoichi festival. This shrine is conveniently located between Ni-chome and Kabukicho, and certainly draws some of Tokyo’s most beautiful nocturnal beings seeking spirituality and cash for the new year.

Of course I assumed that this Kewpie was a yakuza, with his handsome full body tattoo. No, the husband informed me later, his little flag says that he’s a firefighter. It’s odd that tattoos are so taboo in Japan, and worn not only by gangsters but also firefighters and carpenters.

Don’t those who rescue us and build our homes deserve to go into the neighborhood sento baths with the rest of us? Or is it better that they are relegated to specific places that accept them (and their admirers)?

(For beautiful people spotting and/or tattooed kewpie buying, this festival concludes next Wednesday and Thursday nights Thursday and Friday nights, Nov 18 and Nov 19).

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


最近、日本とアメリカの友情に関する本を二冊読みました。両方とも、若いアメリカ人が東京に占領下の時に来ました。「Donald Richie』は有名な映画の評論家になります。『Japan Journals 1947-2004」では、リッチーは彼の売春婦や女装趣味の人や季節労働者や移民の友達との関係をはなします。今まだ書いています。

もうひとつの本では、アメリカ人のヤクザが六本木で成功する話です。仕事はピザとプロレスと不動産です。死ぬ前に、『自分の国を去る人は『asshole』だ』と言った。Whiting, Robert、『 Tokyo Underworld: The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan』 (1999)。

Japanese-American Friendship
Recently, I read two book about Japanese-American friendship. In both stories, young Americans arrive in Tokyo during the Occupation. Donald Richie becomes a famous film critic. In Japan Journals 1947-2004, he’s also seen to be a friend of street walkers, transvestites, migrant workers and immigrants. He is still writing now.

In the other book, an American gangster becomes King of Roppongi. His business includes pizza, pro-wrestling and real estate. In his old age, he said that a person who leaves his country is “an asshole.” Whiting, Robert. 1999. Tokyo Underworld: The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan.