Public bath? I have to think about that.

bath-house

Onsen ritual

Of the many things I was able to experience while in Japan, can’t wait go to back by the way, was the public bath. My wife told me long before we went that she had expected me to participate in this ritualistic event. This was the first time I was to meet her entire family so we, had to take a bath together? Of course I had asked many questions about what it was like and what I had to do. And of course being American, was anyone going to see my penis? I don’t make a habit of showing just anyone. She teased the hell out of me about my questions of course. She kept telling me that more than likely, they had probably wanted to check out my penis. Not in any weird way, but to just “see it”. A particular day while driving around in Japan with the family we had passed by a bathhouse and we turned around to go back. I asked what was going on and my wife said “We just passed a bathhouse so we are going.”. I was half asleep in the car at the time but woke quickly and asked “Right now? As in we are going now? I am not mentally ready for this!”. Her parents laughed at me and thought I was being a child so we waited.

Needless to say I was nervous about it. The reason she expected me to participate is that we all were to go to Onsen for a couple days. Onsen is the Japanese term for a hot spring or even more to the point a bathhouse inn or as such fed by a hot spring. Technically however I don’t think all bathhouses are fed by a hot spring only onsen. There are many bathhouses scattered all over the place. Mostly easy to spot just because, to me anyway, they had this indoor pool type of building familiarly about them.

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Communication breakdown

communications

Japanese communication breakdown

Knowing my wife now for a number of years, I think we dated for two years first before being married for five, we still have yet to get past the communication breakdown problem. I say this as my wife is first generation Japanese in the U.S. She had lived here for a number of years before we met. She was actually married once before and lived in NYC for quite some time while working for Kirin Ichiban as an assistant to executives. During her time here in the U.S. she hadn’t, and still really hasn’t, taken the time to work on her pronunciation of English. She is completely fluent in reading and writing English but her speech leaves much to be desired at times. Further more she tends to mix words up along with their meanings leaving me to scratch my head in misunderstanding.

I’ll do my best here to give you a few examples of what some of our communications are like. The other week we were getting in the car to go somewhere. As I was getting in the car she said to me, well what I thought, was “deer”. We live on a wooded hillside and have deer prancing around all the time. So naturally thinking she said “deer” I half close the door and look for it. I turn to her and say “I don’t see it.”. She says back to me “Stop playing games, DEER!”. I of course again look back over my shoulder and then look back at her and say “Um yeah there is nothing there.”. By this time she is fuming and I can tell. She again says “Deer!” while pointing at the mirror of the car door. “Oh” I say, “MIRROR and not DEER.”. Oh that was a crazy one that day. Pretty much the rest of the day we were talking about how I have a hard time understanding her pronouncing of certain words and that I wasn’t screwing with her, I thought she was really saying deer.

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What is Marimokkori anyway?

hokkaido-mascot1

Japanese mascot characters

Ok so you might be thinking to yourself right now. What is this green character and why is there some type of huge ball thing where his package should be? Better yet, why is he reaching out to a child and trying to touch his hand? I can tell you right now, something like this in America would never fly. There would be protesting and riots in the streets if this were going on. Again however, this is the kind of thing the American mentality would never fully embrace or understand. Which, I understand. My first reaction was one of shock for the reason alone that Americans have been taught certain things about sexuality that traverses through our adults years as being “bad” or not “normal”. I am not saying there isn’t problems in Japan with sexuality or behaviors but from what have experienced, it’s just not the same. There is a lot of sexual connotations in Japanese culture which I have yet to fully understand though it seems a lot of it comes from the Edo period as well as other cultural values and ideas. Though don’t quote me on that.

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Soapland

soap-land-neon-dean-harte

What is Soapland?

While in Japan last year we hit up two large cities, Tokyo and Sapporo. While in these cities I brought back many fond memories of the land in which my wife was born. However I saw some other things that were quite a shock to me being an American. One of which was Soapland. I noticed a building in a section of Sapporo called Susukino which is where most of if not all the hostess bars are located in the city. I asked my wife what the particular place was and she told me about the deal with Soapland. Of course I had to look it up for myself later to find more about what it was. Basically Soapland is a generalized term for a type of establishment in Japan where a man would go to get soaped up by a lovely lady in the nude. From what I understand in reading some forums with mens descriptions and experiences, yes they are out there just do a Google search, is that you have a private room and bath with a woman and anything goes. Sounds like one hell of an experience however I get to have Soapland with my Japanese wife whenever I want for free, well almost free. Oh and the costs at these places seems to vary on the quality of girls and duration and I am guessing what ever else is agreed upon.

In Japan prostitution is illegal. However from what I understand that law is very vague in it’s wording. Basically if you go into an establishment be it a strip club, hostess bar, Soapland (I keep capitalizing the S for some reason) or whatever else and you have an agreement with the hostess for sexual intercourse in some manner, it’s completely acceptable and left go as that. As long as it’s behind closed doors, don’t ask and don’t tell. I can see the benefit in that on one side of it but it also has it’s drawbacks. In America of course prostitution is completely illegal and almost all of the states. Nevada is the only place where it is legal. However not all of the counties in Nevada have legal prostitution, however that works. I know I’ve seen some news in the past about ranches in certain parts of Nevada where this is the norm.

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The Fat Cat

kitty

My big tabby cat

We have a cat. She’s a beautiful Tabby cat that we found and rescued from a local shelter. I am all about saving the planet all the time so why not start out small and save some cats? We live in the hills among the trees and there are cats all over the place. I don’t think I’ve seen a neighborhood with so many cats running around honestly. I’m surprised there are still other animals left that all that cats didn’t get around to killing yet. Oh now I remember there is an island in Japan that has nothing but cats. The place is called Tashirojima. Anyway I think when she was born, and into her young kitten weeks she must have had a problem finding food. Not exactly sure how she came into this world but it must have been hard. I can only imagine she must have had her mom run off or just something awful terrible happened. There’s never much of a back story when you recuse an animal. Ever since we got her she’s been a hungry kitty. I have an early video of her which I’ll dig up from YouTube. She’s now 4 and there is no sign of her stopping getting bigger. She begs for food all the time and sleeps the rest of the time. What a life right? Right now she’s around 14 pounds. I can hear her now in the background begging my wife for some late night snacks or something. Every night she comes to me when I am getting ready for bed for her last meal of the day. If it’s not enough, she’ll surely tell you about it. Oh what a life it must be to be a cat and get fat. I wish I was nothing but the fat cat. Come here kitty kitty I have some treats for ya.