Love that this video was created for Culture Day by Hidali.
In his woolen cape, the Greek count’s first stop is Haguromo, a shrine of bathing for working class gays in Nishi Shinjuku. The count is here to cleanse, observe, and interact.
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.
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).
Los Angeles-based filmmakers Jason Bushman and Charles Herman-Wurmfeld arrived in Tokyo this weekend to show their film “Hollywood, Je T’aime” at the Tokyo Lesbian Gay Film Festival. Their film will be playing Thursday July 15 at 8 pm, and Saturday July 17 at 8:45 pm at Spiral Hall in Aoyama. The director-producer team will be at both showings for a Q&A. I’ll be there on Thursday, and encourage anyone in Tokyo to see their film or attend the festival.
The main star, a friend of the director, looks like a young Adrien Brody. It’s Jason and Charles’ first visit to Japan, and I tried to entertain them on Saturday night by showing them Ni-Chome, Hanazono Shrine (we prayed for their movie’s good fortune in Japan), Golden Gai, the male host area of Kabukicho, and finally Hagoromo, the gay-meets-yakuza sento in Nishi Shinjuku, where somehow I have become a regular.
This image of Shuntsuke was taken by the Tokyo photographer Max Hodges. Max, where did you find this guy? The combination of *huge* hair, exquisite tattoo, and his gaze directly into the camera are swoon-irresistible. Max, please ask Shuntsuke to also pose for a back and butt tattoo photograph!
People outside Japan may not be aware that all tattooing is associated with yakuza, and is highly stigmatized. The combination of fine art, naked skin and prohibition make it all the hotter! Fortunately, there are a few public gyms and sentos where tattoos are allowed. No surprise that these places are also heavily gay.
Max, you can make a fortune selling images of Japanese men’s tattoos. I volunteer to help!
In the summer heat, I have suspended my regular sento visits: enjoying gratuitous single-sex neighborly nudity and soaking in a large hot tub. Although I prefer going to the “yakuza sento” Hagaromo in Nishi-Shinjuku, where tattoos are allowed, the nearby “Magic Sento” is lovely, too. The owner’s son performs a weekly magic show in the lobby.