The Sexing Up of Japanese Culture

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I loved Japanese culture even before I knew I loved it. Every month I’d save up my pocket money and buy the 5 pound Playstation Magazine, with a demo disk in it. The demo disks were usually awesome and I feel so nostalgic thinking about them, but it was also the thick magazine full of articles that kept me going back each month. My mum was very strict on me playing video games (I could only play for 30 mins a day… haha who is laughing now – I HAVE to play for hour and hours a day at work now!!) and we didn’t have a lot of money so most of the games in the articles meant very little to me, but I loved the art. I’d cut out little pictures of Croc or Lara Croft and sit and draw them for hours. I also used to cut out little cartoon characters – now I know them to be manga/anime style characters – and also draw them, sticking my pictures on my school folder. Of course, these Japanese images were probably not what a 12 year old girl should have had on her school folder – pictures of anime girls with huge eyes and even bigger boobs, but to me they weren’t sexual, they were just cool and funky and I loved the style. It wasn’t til years later that I found that these were Japanese, and that the style has so much sexual content linked to it. It’s one of Japan’s biggest exports, if not just in manga and anime form, but the style of the art is shipped out to make anything sexual and cool.

If you ask any non-Japan-related person what they think of when they think of Japan and after the geisha and samurai will undoubtably come the vending machines that sell used underwear. Newsflash – this is not a thing. People who say they have seen one probably didn’t read the kanji correctly or something, I don’t know. When I was studying in Japan, I had a friend who worked in an adult store and while there were many many things that would have (and probably have) scarred me for life, used underwear was not a thing that was on sale, even there.

And it makes me sad and angry that when people think of Japan, one of the first things they think of is sex. “But in Japan there is so much fucked up porn and stuff, Charlotte!” Yeah? The rest of the world is so pure and innocent, and didn’t come up with the likes of 2 girls on cup, or goatsee? I think the world uses this equation of Japan = weird sexy things to cover up the fact that, actually when it comes down to it, no one actually knows a thing about Japan. “Oh, I know something! There’s that eye licking thing! I saw it on the news!” Yeah, I asked my friends in Japan about that and they said that they had heard little to no news on that from inside Japan. My guess would be it was a very small thing with a couple of kids that got picked up by The Daily Mail and escalating into another OMG JAPAN IS CRAZY article.

A few weeks ago there was a Japanese film festival in Frankfurt. Last year the event was really great – including the posters. When the posters for this year were announced, I thought that they were cute at first, but then I noticed that they were all kinda sexual. Cute animals in skirts, lifting them up to show their heart groins. Bears in little panties with pubic hair poking out the top. It’s just my option but I think that these images of cute and colourful animals would have still been “Japanese” even without the sexual element added to them. It made me really sad that an event called “Nippon Connection” – what I take to mean that they are trying to reach out to bring Japanese culture to regular people – had to bring sex to the table in order to sell it. I only got to watch one film this year since the tickets were mostly sold out by the time I got there. I thought it was going to be a nice tale of a Princess called Sakura, but it turned out to be a soft porn film. Little Sakura was raped within the first few mins of the film and then, because of course she loved it, she turned to be a prostitute in order to find the man who attacked her. The audience was full of middle aged men, and the one next to me made really gross noises every time there was nakedness on screen (this was a lot of the film).

I once saw a photoshopped picture on the net (from a JET Programme forum) that said “Welcome to Japan” with a background of 100s of naked Japanese women. I used this in a diary in Lang-8 and asked the Japanese people what they thought about their country having this kind of image and most just shrugged and said there was nothing they could do about it.

I think Japanese people don’t realise that this is often how the West sees them, so I’m sure this won’t change for a long time. It just makes me so angry because there is so much more to Japan than sex.

What do you guys think? I’d love to hear all your opinions in the comments!

My Bar? No Yours Bar!

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I’ve already written about Yours Australian bar before, but about their brunch. I’ve found myself back here a few times though recently, so I thought I’d write a little more about it.

If there are any fellow Nintendoites out there I should start by saying – they take meal vouchers here! Though not for the drinks, I guess. They do pretty good cocktails here though I really love the homemade lemonade. It’s the type that is full of rock sugar to crunch on OM NOM NOM.

Their food is pretty good, too. A burger loving friend of mine swears that this is the best burger in Frankfurt but sadly when I went to burger here I went by someone’s recommendation and got the emu burger which was dry and tasteless.

The picture above is one of the few vegetarian options; a hummus wrap. The hummus was pretty awesome but although it said there was falafel in the wrap, they should have said that slithers of falafel may be hiding in very small amounts in the wrap.

As usual the staff were friendly and smiley and it was pleasant there.

Find Yours Australian Bar at Rahmhofstr. 2-4 (Schillerpassage) 60313 Frankfurt

What Happens When Germans Protest?

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A few weekends ago it was pretty hard to get into town. I live near the main station, and the Frankfurt based protest group Blockupy were having a camp weekend over on the grass and the whole area from the top of Kaiserstraße to the start of the highstreet was closed off. Not only that but the train stops and trams in the area were also not in use. It was a little annoying, but it’s starting to become normal here now.

I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised that people here protest so much. German people have a very strong sense of what is right and what is wrong, and what’s more, they want to make everything right. Japanese people know in their heads what is right and what is wrong but they don’t dare say out loud when they think something isn’t ok. British people know what’s right and what’s wrong but unless it’s affecting them personally, you won’t find them springing to action.

I have no idea how many protests there have been since I came to Frankfurt…and of course there are many more in the summer months. All protests need to be approved (which is why the bike ‘protest’ Critical Mass isn’t advertised as such – it’s not approved) and so for the first year that I was here, most of the protests consisted of a few people protesting and 100s of police guarding them.

Then came Blockupy. They set up camp under the big euro sign of the European Central Bank and stayed there throughout the bitterly cold winter until they were kicked off last Autumn. They are still very active and do fight for lots of causes, and at the camp the other week they focused on educating people about those causes. There were a few other scuffles that they had that were perhaps not as nice, but made it into Buzzfeed so that’s good publicity for them I guess.

The above photo was from the following week – they had one more protest march against how the police treated them during the camp weekend. I was trying to figure out what they were protesting at first but there seemed to be quite a few areas covered in the one march – German efficiency!

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When Blockupy have things going on it is quite a pain because it’s hard to get around and stuff but I guess that’s the point. I don’t really agree with the violence or the extremes that they go to but I think it’s great that so many people care about this kind of thing here.

My Week In Photos

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It may be a new week but the craziness of last week is still with me…

I did some more standup comedy on Thursday. I did a set about language, and about my kids at the school I taught at in Japan. It went down pretty well but I have a little way to go yet… including my posture on stage, apparently!

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There was a Japanese film festival called Nippon Connection throughout last week. I have a whole post lined up about it, but here are some cute kids playing with the Wii U that was on display there. I couldn’t help but back-seat game when they were finding it hard to use, though… whoops.

 

 

 

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And of course the yearly film festival is great for getting those Japanese snacks we crave. I had a pickled plum onigiri rice ball. It wasn’t as good as the “real” thing…the rice tasted really bland for one. I should make more of these at home I guess. I have noticed, as well, that the Asian supermarkets are selling seaweed that has the plastic around it so you can make your own onigiri packaging. Pretty neat idea, I think! 

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I had LOTS of time to hang out with the kitten monkeys last week. Yannik likes to sit ON my computer so I cannot type and only pay attention to him. Because he is the king of everything.

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Whereas Norina likes to do a great impression of road kill on the sofa.

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As it’s getting warmer and we use the balcony more, I get worried that she WILL become road kill since she pays around there all the time. This is her twitching because there was a bird in the tree. I was having 40 fits while this was happening.

 

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