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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Love Hotels Redefined

Back in the 1960s when the first of its kind love hotel named (not surprisingly) Hotel Love opened up offering consenting couples an opportunity to hide their love away for a night, or more than likely for a four or two hour “stay”, few realized that the the love hotel business could be such a financially successful one - worth, it is estimated around two- to three-trillion yen (US$17-25 billion) a year.

My favorite chain of love hotels (I only ever stayed in one - once) was one called 5-5-5…

That’s because the Japanese word for five is “go”. Hence, go-go-go… a wonderfully witty English turn of a Japanese phrase for a love hotel.

It has multiple (no pun intended) meanings. Come and go. Go, as in ‘hurry in’… stuff like that… but it’s true meaning is the one I described first.

Love hotels evolved into a bedroom away from home.

in Japan, it’s young adults are not supposed to engage in sexual relations before marriage… and while everyone knows that everyone had pre-martial sex, for the parents in charge of maintaining their daughter’s virtue and virginity, everything was pretty much “okay” (air quotes very much intentional) as long as things weren’t overt.

Parents didn’t want everyone in the community to be talking about the sexual proclivity of their “child”, so as long as things occurred in the cover of secrecy in areas and places designated as love hotels, it was “no harm - no foul”.

Let’s face it - if someone saw your adult son or daughter enter a love hotel, one could wonder aloud how that person knew - like… what were you doing there?

No one wants to be a snitch in Japan.

Love hotels, along with allowing its customer base to spend the night or for a couple hours of sexual bliss, began to design special themed rooms for the clientele.

Things like a Star Wars-themed room (Say hello to my little wookie) … a Tarzan-theme room (Me Tarzan - Uganda)… a Hello Kitty S&M room (think Monty Python… a little white pussy cat, please?)…  a Casino Room (always bet on Black - a line from Passenger 57)… a Mickey & Minnie room (ha-ha-hah - Mouseketeers have big ears!).

Unfortunately, most of the themed love hotels have been remodeled in recent years… so now it’s pretty vanilla.

By vanilla, you could still find a love hotel room similar to what I stayed in: the valentine room (honestly… we were tired and just looking for a cheap place to crash for the evening in Tokyo - and love hotels were cheaper than regular ones.)

This room had red satin all over the place… a heart-shaped Jacuzzi… no way are we going in a Jacuzzi where billions of sperm have been spilled… plus… what I can recall, a round bed - which I do recall falling off from while sleeping… as I’m pretty sure round beds in a Japanese love hotel were not made for larger gaijin (foreigner) to actually be sleeping in.

I was lucky enough as an unmarried man in his 20s to own my own place. Not being Japanese, I didn’t have to stay at home with the folks until I was married… and even if I was a single Japanese man in his 20s working in a city far away from the parental units… I would be sooooo busy kissing the boss’ butt that I wouldn’t have much time for any hanky-panky with the opposite or same sex (whatever yanks your crank, baby).

So… being an available bachelor… having my own place… I couldn’t speak Japanese to blab to anyone… it was easy to find different and willing partners for my proclivities.

But… while an estimated 1.4 million people visit a Japanese love hotel every day - that is still a significant drop from the good old days.

The main issue of non-issue is layered (pun intended).

Nowadays, more young people (20-29-year-olds) are moving away from the family home to find work… so, who the heck needs a love hotel for discreet encounters away from the parents?

The other thing is the general apathy of the young Japanese adult… who doesn’t want to get married or have a girlfriend or even be bothered to have sex. It’s not like that means everyone in Japan is uninterested in sex.

That’s ridiculous to think or believe.

It’s just a large number (still the minority of consenting adults) who are rowing that boat (stroke - stroke - stroke).   

So… with a decided downswing in Japan requiring private quarters to play with each others privates, love hotels are looking to cater to a different market - the gaijin.

And no… it’s not the standard goofy guy or gal teaching English, or playing the barkeep… no… I’m talking about the tourist trade - such as the large number of Chinese who are coming over to take advantage of the weak Japanese yen.

In fact, roughly 1/3 of all 20,000,000 tourists who visited Japan in 2016 were from China.

Touring or trying to figure out where to park the car when they win WWIII?

Consider that Tokyo will also play host to a (hopeful) 40,000,000 people with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Unlike the Japanese, not every foreigner trying to get his or her freak on is interested in using furry handcuffs, or swinging from a vine.

Actually, I don’t see why they wouldn’t. You are in Japan… you’re in a Love Hotel… I don’t see why people wouldn’t want to have some fun.

Of course… I might be naive here… but I suppose a love hotel could be used by professional escorts… I never thought about that before… just always assumed it was in use by horny, dating couples.

Love hotels are now billing themselves as ‘urban resorts’ in a hope of capturing the growing (no longer groaning) tourist trade.

Hey… after each sexual encounter at a love hotel - whether it was for the night or merely a stay, love hotel cleaning staff would immediately come after the guest come (sp)  and go… so there was a level of cleanliness.

I just wouldn’t use the Jacuzzi… do you really think they are cleaning out the jacuzzi after each tryst? My bet is they are just using a skimmer.

Somewhere living vicariously,
Andrew Joseph 


  

Monday, January 16, 2017

Sailor Moon Helps Japanese Beat Syphilis

Why the Japanese find they need to have an animated kid's cartoon character be the animated spokesperson to help it combat the rising cases of the sexually-transmitted disease (STD) syphilis is beyond me.

If anything, wouldn't using a titillating anime character make people a bit more horny... you can see the ad above...

In its primary stage, syphilis presents only as minor lesions in affected areas, such as the genitals, but the symptoms often disappear naturally. In the secondary phase, around three months later, patients develop rashes, frequently on their palms or the soles of their feet. The symptoms then often disappear again.

In Japan, during 2016, there were a total of 4,259 cases of syphilis reported - up by 77 per cent from 2015.

While the majority of the cases are between male-female intercourse, there are a number of reports of it being transmitted between the pregnant mother and fetus.

As such, fearing that syphilis is on the rise and will continue to rise in 2017, Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has come up with the "ingenious" platform involving the high-school short skirt-wearing female sexy Sailor Moon anime (animation) character to have the Japanese try and practice safe sex. Riiiiiiight.

Here's what I like (sarcasm): The Ministry blames the rise in syphilis on:
  • changes in sexual behavior in Japan’s youths;
  • its adult entertainment business,
  • and the surge in tourists from countries with high infection rates.
Yup... blame the gaijin.

Back in 1990, when I first arrived in Japan... AIDS was becoming a new disease in the country... and of course, the average Joe Suzuki would cite the influx of gaijin (foreigners) as the reason why.

While that might be the case, it failed to point the stink-finger at itself... back then, and now, Japanese men would make the trip out to places like Thailand to engage in risky sexual activity with the local prostitutes and bring back more than omiyage (presents) to the wife.

Nope - it's the gaijin. Riiiiight.

No one really knows the truth about the spread of syphilis in Japan.

When people are screened for syphilis in Japan, medical staff will only ask the basic question:

Have you had sex recently?

If yes, they create a report on the subject (in accordance with current laws and infectious diseases) noting the patient's gender and age, but fail to ask for the more specific and pertinent information that might tell you what is the blame of the rise, such as nationality and occupation.

All one can really determine from the syphilis numbers is that people are having unprotected sex with someone who has syphilis and contract it that way.

If they are having unprotected sex with strangers or "people they know" in the adult-industry... hey... you pay your money, you take your chances.

Seriously... would you pay to play with someone who says it's okay to ride bareback (no condom)? That's just stupid. Still... even a condom isn't foolproof.

Apparently Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward is rife with syphilis cases according to local hospitals (according to a Japan Times news article)... with the medical facilities estimating that Shinjuku- home of the country's largest entertainment area - has something like 40 percent of Tokyo's cases... which adds up to about 20 percent of the national average.

A special research team of the Ministry is working with Tokyo-area hospitals to try and figure out where all these cases are coming from (no pun intended)... to try and censor this Syphilis Suzuki in the bud.

They hope to have a conclusion so by March of 2018.

The good news, is that is treated early, syphilis can be cured with an antibiotic injection.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Japan's Little New Year

Because I love Japan, I find my of its idiosyncrasies kind of charming.

One of them is the fact that while they do indeed work far to many hours (I don't know how hard they are working, because that is subjective), they do like to let their hair down have a good time when time permits.

Proof of that for me was the fact that everyone had a great sense of humor (enjoyed laughing) and they all got wasted and had fun at the various office enkai (parties) and matsuri (local and national festivals).

As mentioned previously, Japan celebrates its official New Year on January 1 (based on the Gregorian Calendar that non-Asian countries use)... something it has been doing since they switched systems in 1873 thanks to European and American influence.

Before that, Japan (as most of Asia seems to now) celebrated the New Year based on the Lunar Calendar, which affects the actual date from being between January 21 through February 20.

This year's (2017) Lunar New Year begins on January 28.

But... any excuse for a party, Japan also celebrates in between January 1 and January 28, with a festival known as Little New Year (小正月, koshōgatsu).

This is the celebration of the first full moon of the year... the 15th day of the first lunar month (approximately mid-February)... wait... so shouldn't it be celebrated on February 15?

Yes... it should be... and some parts of Japan stick to their guns and celebrate it then... because the new year doesn't begin in the old Lunar Calendar until January 21-February 20... that's why the first full moon is later.

However... since officially Japan is part of the Gregorian Calendar system, and New Year begins on January 1... Koshōgatsu (Little New Year) begins in January... January 15... keeping it as a set date to celebrate the first Gregorian Calendar full moon.

I know - holy crap it's complex... no wonder the Japanese like to drink.

I saw a full moon in Toronto on January 12, 2017... so the 15th date to celebrate
Koshōgatsu is (also) subjective... or... it is what it is.

The main thing about Koshōgatsu, is its religious significance... as it was required by farmers and... well everyone who depended on food in Japan (everyone) to ensure a bountiful harvest... with lots of rites and prayers being done at the local temple and shrines.

Traditionally, New Year's decorations (regardless of the calendar) were taken down at this time (though perhaps not if the celebrated Japanese Lunar Calendar New Year fell after February 15...)
I love azuki beans... and would definitely have more in my bowl of azukigayu.
The people would also have a traditional breakfast of rice gruel and azuki beans (>小豆粥, azukigayu) at a Buddhist temple.. I would imagine then, as now, a fee was established (or a donation).

Photo by me (Andrew Joseph) shows a farmer in Ohtawara-shi (1993), Tochigi-ken probably wondering why he didn't go and pray during that year's Little New Year celebration at the local temple.
Somewhere outstanding in his field,
Andrew Joseph

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Rules Of Engagement For GIs Returning From Japan After WWII


Here's an interesting leaflet found over at Rulon-Miller Books of Minnesota - and it's for sale (https://www.rulon.com/) for US$375.

I don't believe it has any historical value... except that someone took the time to create it.

It's essentially a comical bit of advice for American GI's returning to the U.S. after being over in Japan.

First off, people seem to think the document is from immediately after the war... but I think it might actually be from a couple of years after it... my thoughts on that being it offers advice that the American men should look at American women in a different light than the Japanese women they saw in Tokyo, for example.

Immediately after WWII, I don't know how many GIs were looking fondly at anything Japanese... so that's why I think it had to have been written at least after a bit of time had passed where the Americans and other Allies had spend some time in the country trying to help "rebuild" it.

Knowing you don't have to worry about the enemy trying to kill you, the soldiers could relax a bit and see Japan and its beauty (women) on its own merits.

Still... here's what Rulon-Miller Books had to say about this document it had for sale previously:

Memorandum. From Japan:
Yokosuka. To: men returning to the U.S.A.
Yokosuka,
Japan, n.d. [likely ca. late 1945 or 1946].
$375
Folio lithograph broadside, approx. 14” x 10”, vignette images of Mt. Fuji in each corner and enclosing 15 humorous instructions (46 lines worth) for GIs returning to the States at the close of World War II. These are jovial and innocent (but in fact, sexist and racist) “instructions” for men returning from Occupied Japan. Article no. 1 will set the tone: Upon your arrival in America you will be amazed at the number of beautiful white girls with shoes on, but remember that San Francisco is not Japan. Many of these girls have occupations such as stenographer or beauty operators. Therefore, do not approach them with, ‘How much?’ There is a fair amount of profanity, including the F-word so we can assume this is not an official publication. No.15: “When you come home greet your
sweetheart, wife, or etc. Your natural desire will possibly be very hard to control, but you must  restrain yourself and not be too hasty or enthusiastic. Put your gear down first, then say: “Let’s hit the sack, honey! It’s been a long time...” The words “Eleanor only” appear in ink at the top. Previous folds, else fine.


Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Responsibilities Of A Female Servant In Japan

Are you a female servant in the late 17th century Japan? Then this is the book for you!

Onna shoreishu (Collection of Rules of Etiquette for Women)

Never again will you wonder just what the fug you are supposed to do when the Lady of the House tells you to get her tea, while the Head Maid tells you to go and buy some rice - but not which rice from which dealer, while the Head of the household tries to put his hand up your kimono (good luck with that) while he tells you not tell his wife.

Read Onna shoreishu and you’ll never be unemployed again in 1688 AD Japan!

“I read it, and now I am fugged in many ways, including my butt. But that’s okay, because I can now get a better job with the local brothel.”
Suzuki-san, 17,

“Now I know what type of rice to buy after I first give the lady her tea to keep her occupied before going out of my way to her ladyship’s husband. Everybody wins.”
Suzuki-san, 17 (not the same girl). 

Just kidding, of course.

Here’s what Mr. Jonathan A. Hill. of New York (www.jonathanahill.com) had to write about the book he has for sale for a mere US$5,500: 

Numerous full-page woodcuts. Seven parts in six vols. Large 8vo, orig. blue
wrappers (rubbed & a little worn), orig. title slips on upper covers, modern
stitching. N.p.: 1688.
$5500.00
Fourth edition (1st ed.: 1660); all early editions are very rare. Copies which appear on the market are usually incomplete and in bad condition; our set is in fine condition.
This was the standard book of the 17th century on the role and responsibilities of female servants in upper-class society and in the household.
The anonymous author wrote this work to instruct these women servants in matters of highly refined etiquette required in royal, aristocratic, and wealthy households. Topics include proper attire, how to assist at festivals and weddings, how to treat the belongings of the servants’ mistresses, how to care for and teach etiquette to children, travel customs, etc. This work offers an intimate and rather unique view of customs and conduct within upper-class households.
There are instructions on correct eating decorum; suggestions for seasonal attire, courtship and wedding rituals, wedding receptions, menus for weddings and other celebrations, transporting the dowery, how to prepare the room for delivering a baby, celebrations relating to the milestones in a child’s life, etc.
The fine illustrations have sometimes been attributed to Hishikawa Moronobu but there is no convincing proof, save the style, which is reminiscent of his work.
A fine set, with some mostly marginal and unimportant worming.
WorldCat locates no copy of this edition.

Well done, Mr. Hill.

We are talking about a book from 1688... Japan still hadn't heard of the Gutenberg printing press, and Japanese books of this era were done one page at a time...seems to me, if you are also a fan of Japanese ukiyo-e (woodblock prints), you could hardly go wrong here.

In the image above, I darkened it so you could see it clearer. Because drawings are on both sides, the reverse image is bleeding through with ghostly outlines.

I have a few 1800s comic books/story books from Japan relating the Tale of Genji that have the same issue... and really... how many books do you have from the 1600s?

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Thanks Vinnie!






Thursday, January 12, 2017

Collection of Quick Recipes for Rice Cakes and Sweets


The image to the left is from the Japanese book: Collection of Quick Recipes for Rice Cakes and Sweets written by Jippensha Ikku (十返舎 一九, 1765 – September 12, 1831).

Jippensha Ikku was the pen name of Sadakazu Shigeta (重田 貞一, surname first), a Japanese writer active during the late Edo period of Japan. He lived primarily in Edo in the service of samurai, but also spent some time in Osaka as a townsman.

He was married three times, two of which were quickly ended by fathers-in-law who could not understand his literary habits.

I think I understand that. It takes a very understanding person to be married to a writer who needs to essentially lock himself away every day to write.

Anyhow... for a mere US$2,500, you could own a 32 folding leaf book from 1805 that contains recipes to create your own mochi rice cakes and other Japanese sweets - offered for sale by renowned bookseller Jonathan A. Hill. of New York - www.jonathanahill.com.

Yes, you could go and just look stuff up on the Interweb, but why?

People like to own things in societies not bothered with communism. You aren’t a commie, are ya?

Wouldn’t you like to own a nice book? … to feel the pages of a paper book in their hand… to be utterly confused because you can’t read the somewhat archaic Japanese script… or… realize that despite the serious intent of the author, he has a sense of humor… and so there are a few treats you can’t make.

Seriously… you do know that anyone can put anything up on the Internet under the guise of a blog, website or Wikipedia?

Books from this era (1805) … there was no checking of facts and figures… it was the hopeful concept of an editor/publisher knowing if the writer was incorrect in something written.

Apparently this is a very rare book… and is a First Edition. The WorldCat for books (www.worldcat.org - the so-called world's largest book catalogue) only reveals the publication of a 1970 and 2003 reprints of the original edition… meaning there isn’t a known copy of the original… but that’s all balderdash… where did they get the material to publish those two editions if they didn’t have an older/original edition to copy? Right.

So… we can assume there are more 1805 copies out there… only how do you know that the 1970 and 2003 copies weren’t copied from this one copy being sold by Johnathon A. Hill?

We don’t.

For those unaware, mochi (餅, もち) is Japanese rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grain japonica glutinous rice. The rice is pounded into a gooey paste and molded into the desired shape.

Here’s how Mr. Hill describes the book:

Two double-page & six full-page illus. in the text. 32 folding leaves. 8vo, orig. wrappers (worming throughout, carefully repaired), new stitching. Tokyo:
1805.
$2500.00
First edition and very rare; WorldCat locates only the 1970 and 2003 reprints. This work gives 75 recipes for sweets made from rice, beans, wheat, and other ingredients.
(Author) Jippensha Ikku (1765-1831), is most famous for his humorous travel novel Shank’s Mare (Hizakurige). In the present work, he applies his wit to confectionaries.
“The gap between ingredients and cooking techniques on the one hand and nomenclature on the other is even wider in the 1805 confectionery text assembledby the comic novelist Jippensha Ikku.
He includes two recipes for nanban sweets. The first is Southern Barbarian Candy (nanban ame); the modern editors note it is similar to a recipe in an earlier confectionery text, but that it is not an easily identifiable sweet due to the idiosyncratic way the author miswrote the Chinese character for sugar in the recipe. The recipe that follows for a sweet called Southern Barbarian Kiosen is even more
problematic, since there is nothing called kiosen, which literally means ‘treeyellow decoction.’ The modern editors of the text identify it as a pun on a sweet popular in Kyoto called jiosen. While the editors fault Jippensha Ikku for his sloppiness, he is clearly having fun with words, which are occupational tools for this comic novelist, rather than terms used in the confectionery trade. His southern barbarian sweets, like the recipes in other mid-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century culinary books, indicate that the term southern barbarian sweet had become a free-floating referent that could be used to lend any dish an exotic or comedic air.”–Rath, Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan, p. 110.
The playful illustrations depict steaming and pounding the rice into mochi, boiling rice to make dumplings, toasting the rice cakes, and a scene of a merchant preparing the rice cakes “Kyoto style.”
In spite of the repaired worming, a very good copy of an extremely rare book.

Look - even if you can’t read the book (understand it), the art is decent... and it was suggested I needed to get off the war theme I was on... because eating mochi never killed anyone... much.

Between 2006-2009, 18 people died from choking while trying to eat mochi.

Kanpai,
Andrew "Mochi ado about nothing" Joseph
PS: Thanks, Vinnie!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

War

Here's an image of a Japanese soldier during WWII, shaking his comrade... hoping he isn't dead.

But he is.

Some 2,120,000 Japanese soldiers died during the war.

Because you are wondering, 5,533,000 German soldiers died along with 261,000 Austrians.

China had an estimated 3-4 million soldiers die in the 1930s through the end of WWII - recalling that Japan invaded China in 1937 two years earlier than the actual global conflict.

The hardest hit was the Soviet Union, who lost 8.8 to 10.7 million soldiers.

The U.S. lost 416,800; Great Britain 383,600; France 217,600... and it goes on and on...

Battle deaths are estimated to have been 15 million.

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph