Sex isn’t an expression of love between two people; it’s something that can be bought or sold when necessary. Then I walked the concrete corridor to the station and silently waited in line for the train.
Now don’t get me wrong—again, I don’t mean to imply that there are a lot of men going to these places, or a lot of women working there. What I mean to say is that the fact that it exists changes the way people view relationships. When it came, it was packed as always, so we put on our faces of resignation and forced ourselves on since we had to, then rode without a word.
(As an aside, I’ll add that “foreigners” aren’t allowed in. Every week, people pay me to sit in Starbucks and simply talk with them. Well, it’s hypothetically possible, I suppose, like Dark Matter or something. That means that if everyone else is having an awesome, sexy time, you’re more likely to as well. When it’s a sunny day, everybody’s happy, and when it rains, everybody’s glum. So I was talking this over with my colleague Fujimoto-sensei last week, and he said, “Ah, Ken, you should have seen it in the 90’s. Everybody was making money, people were positive, it was more fun. Then, “You know I used to have a wife and a girlfriend in those days. I think of it like an extra living room, which helps since my apartment’s so darn small.
You can be that crazy dude who lives under a bridge and rides a bicycle with garbage bags full of tin cans hanging off the back, but as long as you’re “Japanese,” you’re good to go. Afterwards, I go to a bar, and every week, sure as hell, someone will approach me and say, “Wow, let’s speak English together! People are massively impacted by their environment and the people around them. The place was packed full of about thirty guys and gals in dark suits all sitting alone in silence, eating and reading manga or staring at their smartphones with glazed eyes.
As in, I once dated a girl who told me, “You know, a lot of men would pay good money to be dating me like you are.” Which I really couldn’t argue with because, well, she was right. Recently, a friend of mine got married to a man through an arranged marriage. When I got to my neighborhood it was dark, which was fine since there’s really not much to see anyway, nothing like a river or a tree or anything.
She used to get drunk and try to kiss me whenever my girlfriend ran to the bathroom. Well, there is a little brown canal nearby, so I guess that’s something.
A lot of people are apparently “just saying no” to the whole thing. For Japanese folks, it’s insanely difficult to establish friendships and connections, which is no doubt why so many Host and Hostess Bars exist, so people can at least to talk to them.
For a woman, it means a life of indentured servitude. The reality is: people don’t have a lot of contact with each other.People in Japan, and Tokyo in particular, work a ridiculous amount, in a way that’s hard to comprehend if you live in, say, sunny California. Japanese places are a lot worse.” “Do you ever see your wife? That way, the man goes off to work, and when he comes home after midnight, his dinner is sitting on the table covered in Saran Wrap, and there’s hot water in the tub. Shopping, ironing, cleaning, paying the bills, everything’s taken care of for him. The woman gets to do all the fun, fulfilling things like taking care of baby, grocery shopping, cleaning, and cooking meals.Take a former student of mine, Naoko, who worked as a programmer. “I just wore the same clothes, but on Sunday I’d go home for half a day, to shower. Sometimes I’ll ask my adult students how often they see their spouses, or ask the kids when they see their fathers.And suddenly that seemed kind of strange, but then the feeling passed. Nah, Japan’s still wonderful, I thought as I took a can of malt liquor from the fridge. Someone to clean this place up, cook me some hot meals, and love, eventually.Eventually I got to my own dark building and rode the elevator up.