Rogues, rats and red lights

Shinjuku’s Kabukicho district is well known as a popular entertainment area. Although when I say entertainment, I don’t mean bingo halls and bowling alleys. No, it’s very much adult (and male) orientated. I always remember my first visit, as in the middle of the street was a man holding up a placard with an arrow pointing down – for want of a better description – a dark passageway. And on his advertising board in bold letters were the words ‘Anal Sex’. In English too. As a wide-eyed and naïve gaijin fresh off the boat, I was surprised to say the least.

Anyway, arriving in Shinjuku on Friday to meet a friend and finding myself a little early, I thought I’d take a little detour through this colourful part of town. But with it only being 4 pm, I wasn’t expecting to see much activity. I was wrong.

Within 3 minutes I’d seen a rat out on an early evening stroll, and been very kindly invited by numerous dodgy looking men in suits to watch a live show, have a sexy massage, or alternatively indulge in rigorous and fulfilling sex. Oh, and also the offer of a look around a shop that was selling all manner of unusual and exotic items. Many of which I couldn’t even begin to fathom their purpose.


Although if those (apparent) sex aids were mind boggling, they weren’t quite as baffling as this sign above a nearby pachinko parlour.


But considering the area it is situated in, and the various services on offer, the gambling emporium’s name is rather appropriate.


Feline fanatic

This year sees Hello Kitty celebrate its 30th anniversary. And perhaps because of the cat’s incredible longevity, it’s arguably not all that surprising to find that many of the feline’s most ardent admirers are in their 30’s and 40’s.

One such fan (or more accurately obsessive) is 31-year-old receptionist Asako Kanda. As a young child she bought a few kitty-chan items, such as pens, books, etc. And by the time she reached 10 or 11 her interest had become more pronounced, with a Hello Kitty mug made in pottery class, and a similarly patterned apron in home-economics. Yet for many girls this would not be a particularly unusual story, but in the case of Kanda-san the obsession didn’t gradually fade with age. Rather it got stronger. Much stronger in fact.

In her Kitty-goods packed (and sickeningly pink) apartment, the feline fan said that, “Kitty has always been with me, almost subconsciously.” And with the recent earthquakes in Niigata, she worries about what will happen to her kids should there be a major tremor. These kids being the huge number of Kitty soft toys she has amassed over the years.

However with Sanrio (the company behind Hello Kitty) making the most of such fans, Kanda-san doesn’t have to worry about Kitty-chan only being with her subconsciously. With Kitty toasters, TV’s, pens, and pans, she can be with her favourite character almost all her waking hours. In fact on the rare occasions she isn’t surrounded by Kitty paraphernalia, Kanda confesses to feeling stressed.


But the cat crazy receptionist says the relationship is not completely one-sided. When her father became ill and underwent an operation a few years ago, she claims that, “looking at my Hello Kitty handkerchief, I felt as if she were calling out to me, ‘don’t worry, everything will be fine’.” Similarly, a Kitty pillow (shaped like the face of the character) gave Kanda-san hope and support when one of her bosses was sexually harassing her.

As extreme (and disturbing) as some of this is, I guess you can say it’s relatively harmless. And if it has helped the woman out in a few bad situations, then fair enough. But Kanda-san’s dream of a Kitty-shaped house with two ears sticking out of the roof is a little disconcerting. Although perhaps more so is her wish for a Kitty-style funeral complete with a Hello Kitty tombstone.


Love hurts

In a somewhat unconventional way of attempting to get permission to date the girl of his dreams, an unemployed former gangster cut off his little finger and posted it to the girl’s father. Along with the severed pinkie was a note saying, “Please let us go out in exchange for this finger. I will send it again and again until you accept my request.”

Now perhaps it was because the ex-Yakuza member is 38 and his daughter only 15, or maybe it had something to do with receiving a finger in the post, but either way the father was not impressed and promptly returned the unwanted mail.

Yet as deranged as the lovelorn lunatic may appear, he can’t be accused of not being true to his word. As after being rejected once, he wasted no time in resending the grisly parcel.

However after being unswayed by the presumably festering finger a second time, the father finally informed the police. Resulting in the ex-gangster’s arrest.

Sharapova panty perverts

The obsession in Japan with pilfering, purchasing, or peeking at schoolgirls underwear is relatively well documented. Well, it is on this site anyway. But in a slight break from convention, a foreign non-schoolgirl has come to the attention of the nation’s panty perverts. And perhaps surprisingly, it’s all thanks to tennis.

The women’s game is relatively popular in Japan, but audiences are mostly made up of ardent female sports fans. Or perhaps that should be were. As this year’s AIG Japan Open has changed all that. Attendances swelled to around twice their usual size, with 70% of the ticket buyers being male. The vast majority of these fans armed with every photographic device known to man.

Yes, Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova was in town, and the chance of a peek at her panties was an opportunity many underwear aficionados were simply unable to resist. The finesse of the tennis star’s backhand or the power of her volley was irrelevant to the camera-carrying horde. Her underwear-revealing serve was all (and everything) they had come to see. One reporter even grumbled that, “when she served, everyone got ready to take photos of her panties. Nine out of ten of these guys were geeks whose cameras were aimed below the belt.”


Entertainment journalist Yuuichi Hirabayashi attempted to explain the phenomenon, although it has to be said with perhaps a little too much enthusiasm. “She’s the kind of Caucasian beauty that Japanese people have long admired.” And having warmed to the topic at hand, he went on to say that, “Tennis players usually become muscular, but she doesn’t have that gnarled look. She’s slender in a way that doesn’t make you think she’s an athlete.”

It’s not surprising then that the internet has spawned numerous sites devoted to the sharing and swapping of Sharapova shots. A writer specializing in internet related issues said that the sites not only offer panty pictures “that are taken from all sorts of angles,” but also numerous “photos showing her nipples when she isn’t wearing a sports bra.”

Thankfully the young Russian seemed unaware of the ulterior motives of many of those watching her games, but she is said to have complained to her staff at the cacophony of camera shutters that accompanied her every move (and serve). If she plans on playing in Japan again though, it would appear it’s something she is going to have to get used to.

Feeling foreign

Takeshi Kotsuka, the former president of Hawks Town (the operator of the Fukuoaka Dome baseball stadium), has been arrested for molesting two female employees.

The company had already sacked the 57-year-old Kotsuka at the end of last month for committing “serious illegal acts”, but since then his victims have filed criminal complaints against him. Specifically for unrequested hugs and kisses.

Whilst not denying the charges, Mr. Kotsuka however remains unrepentant. In fact in his mind he seems to believe he was doing the young ladies a favour, as he went on the record as saying, “I hug my female employees and kiss them, but I think they enjoy it.” But that is arguably nothing compared to his repost when accused of openly fondling and kissing employees. In Kotsuka-san’s world, such behaviour is “a kind of communication,” and (this is the best bit) “such practices are common in America and Europe.”

With this in mind it’s a wonder any work at all gets done in Europe and America, what with all the kissing, groping, and general molestation…

A grand day out

I came across a new shop the other week that was preparing to open its doors for the very first time. But the event was expected to be so big that it was beyond grand. Indeed, so spectacular were the plans that it was being billed as grond.