How Japan Made me Gay

How Japan Made me Gay

I have Japan to thank for making me gay.  I’m pretty sure it did anyway, since it’s fairly dessicated my mojo.  I keep checking the mirror to make sure, but while I don’t look a whole lot gayer than before, the evidence is certainly mounting.  Like I woke up this morning and instead of my usual manly breakfast of cold pizza, eggs, and coffee, I had yogurt.  Fruit yogurt.  Now, to be fair, Japan does have some really amazing flavors, like aloe yogurt, fig yogurt, mango yogurt . . . seriously freaking yummy!

Ah jeez, I knew it.  I done gone gay.

The Three Warning Signs of Gay

Red flag number one has got to be my newfound fashion sense.  I don’t know what happened; it’s like one day I just started being embarrassed when stumbling to the convenience store with a three-day beard and wrinkly t-shirt.  Soon, I went from mocking Japanese guys with their coiffed hair and tiny purses to wondering how I could get my eyebrows to look that good.  And then it wasn’t enough to walk through Tokyo in battered flip flops and beer-stained cargo shorts.  At least, I think that was beer.  Anyway, these days I can’t leave the house without looking in the mirror and wondering, do these socks and tight trousers actually go?  I mean, they’re both white with blue stripes, so I guess it’s okay.  Trust me, you start thinking that way and you’re on the express train to Gaysville.

Putting the P in Public Restrooms

Red flag number two is the number of men masturbating next to me in public restrooms.  This is a weird thing, and I’m sorry to have to relay it, but it’s definitely a thing.  I mean, people talk about chikan on the trains and all, but the truth is that some public freakiness just comes as part of this culture.  Not saying it’s right, but simply that folks here pretend not to notice things that in other countries would result in a group of macho, body-builder-looking dudes kicking your ass.

Like last week I got off the train and went straight to the bathroom because it was Tuesday.  See, there’s this izakaya near my work that does half-price beer on Tuesdays.  So it’s a sure bet that I go there every week, eat a dozen gyoza and drink as many ridiculously cheap beers as possible before getting on the train.  Hey, it’d be a sin to pass up such a good deal.  What can I say, it’s a religious thing.  Anyway, that guarantees that by the time I get to my station I’m straight ready to explode.  So I hustle to the toilet and as I’m doing my business this dude pulls up to the spot next to me and just starts hitting it.  Not hitting the urinal—I mean, hitting it.  Like, I’m not looking or anything, but if you’re a guy, you know that there’s a range of acceptable motion one can do while at a urinal.  And it’s a really freaking narrow range, because you don’t want to give the impression that you’re standing there hitting it.  Whatever.  This guy was way outside of the safety zone.  And when something like that happens, you’re just gay by association.  It’s like smoking pot.  Like you’re at a party and maybe you don’t even inhale.  Maybe you don’t even like pot.  But if the cops show up, everybody goes to jail.  Like what’re you gonna say?  But officer, I didn’t know there’d be cannabis here.  And if somebody walked into the bathroom at that moment, you’d be like, Hey no, I was just standing here because I slammed twelve beers and it takes me a full minute to drain Mr. Lizard . . . but I’m not gay.  Yeah, sure you’re not.

If this was the first time this had happened, maybe I could retain my manfulness.  But it’s not.  It’s like the fourth time.  Ginza?  Boom, some old guy hitting it.  Asakusa?  Some fat salaryman.  Ikebukuro?  This high school kid.  It’s crazy.  I don’t know what’s up with Japanese people.  It’s not like there isn’t a stall they could go into for privacy.  And I don’t actually think it has anything to do with me, although one could hardly blame them since I do have really nice eyebrows and exceptionally tight trousers.  Most of these guys were already getting busy before I got there.  Nor did they stop when other dudes came in to take a leak.  Something about the Japanese group culture just makes them, I don’t know, want some company.  I’m not hating on gay people at all either.  If that’s your thing, hey, find a closet or a forest or something and knock yourself out.  But do you have to second-hand gay me?  I was just hoping to stay straight a little longer, that’s all.

Sexy Japanese Women

But the biggest red flag is that I don’t find Japanese women as sexy as I used to.  Look, no one’s more shocked by this than me.  I mean, not saying they’re bad looking, just that their personalities leave—how to put this—something to be desired.  Somehow they were supposed to be way better than the ladies I knew back home.  Kind of like how New Coke should’ve been so much more delicious than regular Coke.  It’s like you take Coca-cola, but you make it New—so now it’s better, right?  When is extra sweetness not an improvement?

But yesterday, as often happens, I’m in an Irish bar with a glass of beer in my right hand, leaning back on the wall and conversating with this rather attractive Japanese gal on my left hand.  Everything’s right in the universe, you know what I’m saying?  And after the usual questions, she gazes into my eyes and chirps, “So what do you think about Japanese girls?”  So I look her up and down and in my raspiest voice reply, “Oh, the best, definitely.”  And then, just when I should have leaned in and made some witty and slightly flirty comment, I felt a sudden wave of, what? gayness?  I mean, all the girls here used to rank between 8 and 10 on the Seeroi scale of 1 to Titillating.  But now my math has gone to hell, and I start thinking like . . . hmm, heavily padded bra . . . glued-on eyelashes . . . lives in a condo with her mom and little brother . . . her hobby is shopping . . . her personal statement is “I think dachshund is super kawaii” . . . I’ll give her a point for having a cuter handbag than me, so then carry the 1 and that puts her at, oh, round up to 6.  Suddenly I realize just how picky and jaded I’ve become.  And then for some inane reason, I decide to actually continue with, what’s that called? conversation?  Never a good idea, seriously.

“So if you could accomplish anything in your life,” I ask, “what would it be?”  I like to ask the big questions.  But that’s just me.

“Get married,” she says.

“Well, everyone’s gotta have a goal.  So what does your boyfriend think?

“Oh, I don’t have a boyfriend.  I just want to get married.  To anyone.

“Yeah, that’s pretty ambitious of you.  Well, good luck with that.”

And right there, I knew.  It was like someone pulled a Rock Hudson on me.  The Old Ken would’ve had two more beers, turned that 6 into an 8, and made a night of it.  But New Ken, ah jeez, he just had another beer and made for the door.  I mean, it’s not like it was a Diet Coke or a Tab or something, but still.  Suddenly I began to worry that it wasn’t just mojo I’d lost in Japan, but something more.  Maybe I’d gone gay as hell.

 



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34 Comments

  1. And here I thought I had room to complain because of the occasional old Korean man who stares at my penis while I’m taking a leak, or the thirteen year olds who go into bathroom stalls in threes to take a dump in a group setting… this is an entirely different league of bathroom hijinks.

    Also, have you been told that your writing resembles a less post-modern, more tightly worded Tim Rogers?

    Check him out when you have an hour to kill: http://kotaku.com/5484581/japan-its-not-funny-anymore

    • I checked that out. Dude’s pretty funny and has a good perspective on Japan, although a bit different from mine. But that’s fine. Sure does use a lot of words though. Must be a hella good typist.

    • Wow, that’s a long post…

      The article made me very angry to read. I agree with the commenter Denki in that it’s culture shock and perhaps he should go back home. :/

      I can’t judge because I haven’t read much of the good things he has said about Japan, but he just seems like a whiner. Complaining about masturbation in public is a legitimate thing (quite disturbing…). Complaining about the origin of the word いらっしゃいませ and how employees yell out fake words is just intolerance of a culture that is different than one’s own. Saying いらっしゃいませ is a kind thing, and I often see customer service in Japan to be kind.

      • Well, fair enough. I understand that different people have different perspectives on the country. However, I think we shouldn’t confuse culture “shock” with simply not agreeing with all that occurs within a given culture.

        There are good and bad points to every nation’s culture. Pointing them out isn’t the same as being in shock over them. In fact, if you can’t find a number of good and bad points about anything on this planet, well hey, maybe you just haven’t thought about it long enough.

        As for “go back home” . . . where’s that? This is my home.

        • I was not talking about you! I was referring to the writer in the Kotaku article that the previous commenter referred to, and then talking about the commenter Denki who commented on that article (quoting is mention of cultural shock and going home). I guess since it’s unrelated, I should’ve just not replied. Sorry for the confusion. Now I feel really bad.

          I agree that there’s bad and good to every country. However, I also think there’s such a thing as not whining about the differences in a culture that’s not one’s own. Such as how the language works or how people do business. But then again, sometimes one just needs to vent their frustrations. It’s hard to tell the difference between someone who is venting, someone who is trying to make a point about what he finds ethically wrong about a country and someone who perhaps is just holding his own values as superior to everyone else’s. I don’t know if you know what I mean. But I did not find the Kotaku article to be something I could hold as legitimate criticism of Japan. They were just personal complaints. Or perhaps I just don’t agree with them, so I’m being biased.

          I told my husband about the masturbation issue, and he said he’s never heard of that. He’s from Japan. So maybe it depends on where you live? I’m not a guy, so I would never know the truth (not that I would want to).

          • Okay, now I feel bad for my reply too, since I misunderstood you. Great, now we both feel bad–see how wonderful sharing is? I blame the internet. It’s all Al Gore’s fault; that and global warming. Guy sure has nice hair, though.

            Yeah, I don’t know what’s up with the whole public masturbation thing. To be fair, I’ve seen a couple of strange things in the U.S. too. Like one time I was going to go surfing, pulled into the parking lot with my board, and the guy in the truck next to me immediately opens his door to reveal that he’s a) wearing no pants, and b) holding something in his hand that resembles a small rocket. I was like, ah jeez, here it is only 8 a.m. and already I’m scarred for life. I don’t know why this stuff always happens to me.

  2. You’re an inspiration Seeroi-sama! Pack in the teaching and write books! If you’re still in Japan when I’m going on my university exchange, (2 years from now) I’ll buy you several beers for sure.

  3. Hey, I read that Rogers article just recently. What a coincidence!

    Well, if it lets you make better decisions, let your macho corrode, I say. Or throw it away, if it’s a burden. What I really want to say, however, is that I can remember only one, out of 40 to 50 or so female Japanese exchange students I’ve encountered over the years at college, who seemed attractive for more than a second. And surprise! That’s about the same ratio I sense in my encounters with any sort of gal– although for different reasons. Do I feel like this is a sign I swing another way? Not at all. But the idea that Japanese women are superior to women seems pretty silly to me. With the varying degrees of freedom the civilized world offers comes personal choice, and not everybody makes decisions you can agree with. Sexual depravity in the bathroom regretfully included. Civilized world, indeed…

    On that note, I’d be infinitely more likely to say in response「帰宅まで我慢できないのかよ」than「うーん、メーク感がかなり強いね」, but if both expressions yield a huffy reaction, then I’ll know that Japan is/has truly “owata.”

    • Yeah, Japan’s far from 終わった. There’s too many interesting things to do, depravity in the bathroom excluded. There’s some adventures Ken just ain’t ready to take.

  4. Aren’t we all just a little bit gay? But that’s kinda pushin’ it.

  5. I’m still waiting to hear a story from you about a run-in with a pack of feral, Japanese barbershop quartet singing “Daisy, Daisy” from the stalls while they all take a dump together! Let us know when that happens.

  6. I could not even read the entirety of this article. It was awfully written and ridiculously offensive.
    You should keep these ill-expressed and ill-thought out views to your chats in pubs, don’t post them online.

  7. I am now trying my best to be offended by the yogurt stuff. You know, I am from Europe where real men eat that stuff every morning, fruits or not.

    But dude, you must be a gay magnet. Like the masturbation thing, it never happens to me. At least not again. And yes, he changed places and was looking down at me.

    I get comfort on the fact that all Japanese girls still look sexy to me. Actually even more than before. When I came only girls in their 20’s did. Now after 20 years also all the girls in their 30’s and 40’s do. I will report back after 20 years, that is if I still remember why I am looking at them.

    • All Japanese women? Okay, now I know you’re exaggerating. And if you’re not, then keep some stats for a day. Now, I agree there’s a lot of attractive ladies in this country, but there are also a lot of women who are quite, let’s say, homely. Or maybe “plain” is a better word. No, probably not. Anyway, I tend to think we filter out the homely ones and focus on the attractive ones.

      Also, the statistics are skewed by area. For example, young women from all around the Tokyo area get dressed up, made up and go en masse to the major shopping areas like Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Omotesando. So those areas have a disproportionate number of attractive women, relative to the population of the city. That’s like determining the number of attractive women in a country by going to Hooters. But if you were to stand on a street corner in a part of town where people actually live, like say, Nippori, and count the number of attractive women between the ages of 18-50, I’d be surprised if you’d get over 30 percent. Try it.

  8. Well, you do have spam filter in your emails too so you do not get to see the real bad ones, right?

    Though I need to confess that I am coming from the part of Europe which is covered by snow about 360 days a year. So I might get a little bit easily excited, like when you can actually figure out the person as woman without studying the foot prints.

    I was going to argue that 30% is a lot and that by going with average I would still vote for Japan but you got me with the Hooters. Any argument that has Hooters in it cannot be counter argued so you win.

    Now, I do not know about you but I just remembered I need to get lunch in Shibuya tomorrow. There is this little restaurant where you can sit by the window in a busy street. I will do the math, as world needs to know.

    • Ah yes, the irrefutable Hooters argument. There’s no debating with hooters, whether restaurant or real.

      Switching gears . . . you know, you can’t do the math in Shibuya. You’ve got to get out of the city centers where the pretty girls all concentrate. That just skews your stats. Here’s what you do: There’s a Starbucks in Oji (http://www.starbucks.co.jp/en/search/detail.php?id=191&search_condition=Tokyo&pref_code=13) with a view of the street. You sit there and count, enjoy a nice cappuccino, and I guarantee the numbers will be lower than Shibuya. You’re right, 30 percent’s probably high. In Oji, you’d be lucky to get half of that. But at least you don’t have to study footprints in the snow.

  9. Another good article, Ken even though every other word offended me. Still, I kept reading, blinking away the tears as your words tore holes in my tender sole.
    I don’t know why I just didn’t stop and head on over to the “Charles In Charge” chatroom. Maybe it’s the part of me that enjoys reading about men masturbating in public.

    • Every other word? Crikey. I typically aim to offend on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis, so maybe I overdid it this time. Note to self: next time, include picture of cute puppies.

  10. My gay friends and I wouldn’t be seen 10 miles from an Irish Bar. Blech.

    Guaranteed you aren’t gay.

    • Ah, the Irish Bar test. I’d forgotten about that. It’s true, they aren’t for everyone, but you know, sometimes you just want to try something new. Probably just a passing phase. I don’t think that makes me Irish, but who’s to say.

  11. thiswickedconcept

    I don’t know man
    My fiance and I are moving to Japan and he’s already very fashionable and a bit feminine
    Try not to think of that as a bad thing
    In my my mind it’s…well…classy
    You get more girls with a good fashion sense in any country
    I’m going to have to warn my partner about these public bathroom rituals though, hes not very comfortable with anyone having a trouser snake but himself
    Myself, I’m now very interested in how fake Japanese girls can get just to seem a bit more Western
    Keep writing, I don’t know how to live without your blogs anymore
    And fashion…embrace it

    • Oh, Ken Seeroi is all about the fashion, I can assure you. I can’t go down to the local convenience store without putting on a fresh-pressed shirt and a skinny pair of trousers.

      As for the men’s room stuff, well I guess some strange things happen anywhere; it’s not like it happens every day. But still, I’ve seen more than I ever wanted to, on more than a few occasions. Now when I use a public restroom, I pretty much just close my eyes and hope for the best. Whatever that might be.

  12. Ummm, starting to develop a blogger internet crush, is that normal?

    Yep, quit the day job and write those books.

  13. Oh ken, im so glad i discovered your blog. It has given me many chuckles and some interesting insight into how living in Japan is like. I hope you continue writing your stories!

  14. Been in Kansai for many, many years. Haven’t been exposed to the Japanese “male members” of society, like you. I think you truly travel in areas where the social experience could be enhanced through the usage of seed funding, rather than the current activity of seeding.

  15. Who are you and what have you done with Ken Seeroi

  16. Glad to say that I haven’t run into any public bathroom users doing the five finger shuffle.
    As for the females, I think you might just be growing up. Face it. A lot of women are vapid and have prioritized appearance over personality.
    I’ll take an interesting homely girl over a beautiful flowerpot anyday.

  17. Ken, has it ever occurred to you that you don’t meet the most interesting and brightest girls in cheap bars / clerking in convenience stores? You make Japan sound like the opposite of Lake Woebegone – a place where everyone is below average.

    • I love that, and although you meant it as a joke, I believe you’re right. Japan is very much a country where children (and adults) are encouraged to be just slightly below average.

      As for women, I know (and have occasionally dated) several doctors, a couple of lawyers, and a wide array of various professionals. I haven’t found any correlation between brightness/interesting-ness and work or social status. However, the one differentiator which is quite clear is whether or not they’ve lived abroad. Put simply, how un-Japanese they are.

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