Sexuality in Tokyo
The dream of bringing Eros back:
I was invited for dinner. We ate Sashimi, grilled fish, rice and salad. It was a very good dinner.
The couple turned their home into an erotic palace with many naked full sizes mannequins, objects and books.
Both dream of bringing Eros back to Japan.
By participating in public demonstrations and creating art, the couple depicted above aims to share their interests with others.
While it feels a bit strange to report about "sexuality in Japan", as I clearly am a cultural stranger to Japan, I have made several observations in my everyday life:
- ◙ In the modern public education system, physical intimacy is a sensitive topic. Sexual education is still taught to children using metaphors such as bees and flowers.
- ◙ While rapid technological and societal changes are causing role conflicts in the rest of the "modern" world, rigid gender roles in Japanese society have been slow to adapt to these changing conditions.
- ◙ Adult films in Japan are always censored.
- ◙ During rush hours, the subway reserves coaches exclusively for women due to incidents of harassment. Throughout the city, there are advertisements offering services for cuddling and conversation with schoolgirls, as well as diaper-changing services for men acting as infants. BDSM activities such as whipping and bondage are also available. What is referred to as pedophilia in the West is referred to as the Lolita fetish in Japan.
The Japanese society seems surprisingly accepting of these abnormal sexual behaviors. Is this an exception where such extremes are not frowned upon by society?
- ◙ Sexualized female depictions can be found throughout Tokyo, printed on the windows of Pachinko and gaming centers, in magazines at convenience stores, and in advertisements. They are also an integral part of anime and manga. In Japanese pop art depicting anthropomorphized objects and living things, the transition from cuteness (a clear obsession in Japan) to erotic connotations does not exclude animals, children, and robotic humans. Female characters are depicted with childlike features, including exaggeratedly large eyes, breasts, and buttocks, while male characters are portrayed as tall and muscular.
- ◙ Prostitution is officially prohibited in Japan.
A biologically dysfunctional sexual behavior appears to have emerged, as Japan's population numbers are declining.
- ◙ Is partnership considered inappropriate in general? This is a sentiment echoed by "herbivore men" – young heterosexual men who choose to abstain from sexual contact with women, a trend identified by gender studies in Tokyo in the 21st century. Most research in this field has been conducted by male scholars. It remains less explored whether similar trends exist among certain groups of women, which seems to be of limited interest in Japanese academia (and international media, of course).
- Kabukichō, however, shows that the opposite is also true. The sidewalks of Kabukichō are filled with male hosts, sought after by women seeking professional companionship for the evening, ranging from services of friendship to services of prostitution.
- ◙ Statistics claim that Japan has the highest rate of homosexuality among young men in the world. A 2018 study on sexual minorities in Japan found that 8.9% of respondents identified as LGBTQ+ (1).
What do these observations mean for the future of the nation? How does the human species define itself within and outside of this complex situation? How is this situation addressed by politics, the economy, and society? What would a positive transformation look like, or is it indicative of the end of a culture?
(1) Dentsū Inc. (2019): January 10, 2019 Marketing Reports CSR [https://www.dentsu.co.jp/en/news/release/2019/0110-009756.html]