In spite of their being public figures, the Emperor and Empress look very much in love in this island nation. I never understand why the Japanese royal family is not promoted more heavily for tourism, diplomacy, and the sheer entertainment value for their subjects. That’s the case in Europe, isn’t it?
Sublime and random Tokyo gay stories in August:
1. A gay Italian visitor to Tokyo is *shocked* at the sight of Japanese men using paper fans to cool themselves on trains and sidewalks. “In Italy, only women and fags dare use a fan.” There is nothing more satisfying than observing an Italian man surprised by another nation’s male effeminacy.
2. My new super-gay hairdresser (rare in a country where most are straight) has recently told me about his working the festival circuit with his yakuza friends carrying a portable shrine shoulder to shoulder and dressed in fundoshi (ritual male thongs), his earlier stint at a Ginza hair salon when he cut the hair of minor royals, and advice about yankii and nudist beachs in Chiba.
A few years younger than this author, my new gay Japanese sensei is also a middle-aged competitive body builder, with distinct orange in his hair and skin tone. Did I mention that we met at Haguromo, the super-gay and sometimes yakuza-filled sento? How often can I get my short hair cut? He’s talented with hair and full of helpful stories and expressions.
3. I’ve heard that many Japanese prefer “small faces.” Just recently, a Japanese friend explained that Japanese distinguish between weak faces (うすい、薄い）and strong faces（こい、濃い). Previously I understand that these adjectives are applied to liquids like tea (literally, the concentration through quantity and steeping time) and even to food types (sort of like light and heavy).
Apparently with people, so-called weak faces have “fewer distinguishing features” or “fewer things sticking out.” Strong faces have deep set eyes, large noses, more prominent chins. This distinction is at once racial and yet pretends not to be. I have a hard time grokking this, but will be more open to hearing about these immutable differences.
“Does this skirt make my butt look big?”
How is it that the wonderous Japanese male gender-bending, almost all in the name of heterosexuality, keeps getting bad press and moral condemnation. Another foreign article in Times Online profiles men who like to eat cake, a feminine past time, and dream of becoming house-husbands.
Rather than celebrate freedom and variety, the phenomenon of herbivores and ojo-man has alarmed sociologists who predict the demise of the Japanese nation. One pompous sociologist is quoted with this fearful prediction:
“I worry that herbivorous boys are the future of Japan . . . As young Japanese men become more timid and more averse to taking risks, it will affect the energy and vitality of the society.”
Who knew that a skirt and feminine aspirations could be such a powerful threat to the survival of a proud people? Are girly men Japan’s terrorism?
Update: CNNGo has a profile about Japan’s first men-only nail salon, in Osaka only for now.
A best seller in Japan is Mariko Bando’s “The Dignity of Women” (じょせいのひんかく), which raises important questions about national and gender identities. Millions of Japanese have bought her book full of advice to young Japanese career women, such as speaking in a refined manner, being punctual, and not accepting free tissues offered outside the train stations. Bando rightly declares, “Women’s dignity is the dignity of human beings.” I am still waiting for the English version to better effect my own personal transformation, although there are deals to take the book to South Korea and Taiwan.
Shu claims there’d be no interest in this book in the U.S. since no one there is interested in dignity and public space. Responses?:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::