Tokyo continues a long tradition of positioning *male* door-bait outside shops, restaurants, and izakayas. This guard outside Omotesando’s gargantuan Ralph Lauren shop built to look like the White House reminds of the incredible capabilities of Japanese to import foreign looks and make it better than the original.
Much “American fashion” in Japan is far better than the original. Not unlike how a Jewish Ralph could become the world’s leading purveyor of WASP costume. Simulations that are more real than the referent reveal a mastery of symbols and performance.
I am left wondering whether inside that perfect surface is an overweight, acne-scarred senior citizen lady. Anything is possible.
Is this truly “only in Japan” or does Western media love stories about “weird” Japanese men? Funny how these weird men are always cast as dysfunctional straights.
So here’s the latest story in the Wall Street Journal: a resort town suffering from the collapse of rural Japan and the terrible economy promotes itself as a destination for LovePlus+ dating gamers. This story produces the sensationalist title, “Only in Japan, Real Men Go to a Hotel with their Virtual Girlfriends,” the sad subtitle, “Dating Game Simulation a Last Resort for Holiday Town and Its Lonely Guests,” and the innuendo rich description of a town seeking to “attract single men– and their hand-held devices.”
The game is at once demanding of its users’ time, and also regressive. Men in their 20s and 30s enact a high school romance. The summer fun at the seaside resort ends in late August when the virtual girlfriends must go back to school.
I’ve reported other geek love stories, like the dakimakura or huggable pillow girlfriends. It seems foreigners enjoy hearing about how dysfunctional Japanese men can be. Perhaps I also get an added chuckle out of the spectacle of improbable hetero desire. But I also agree with the many critics of this news genre that this is hardly representative of Japanese masculinity.