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Archive for the ‘Sexuality’ Category

Akira Toyoda’s mobile started vibrating in his pocket; he ignored it and took another swig of Newcastle Brown Ale. The vibrating persisted. Shit, he thought, it’s got to be headquarters. For a moment he considered switching it off; then he relented. There was no point in getting himself into any more trouble.

He took the phone out of his pocket and checked the call number on the liquid crystal display screen. He was right: headquarters. That could mean only one thing—the end to his Friday night. He leant over the table and shouted, “Back in a minute.” Yelena stuck her tongue out.

Toyoda pushed his way through a rowdy crowd of drunken foreign brokers, some of whom looked as if they’d been drinking since lunchtime, and stepped out into the balmy, grimy night air of Roppongi.

Although the second-floor terrace that fronted Inn for the Night was not as comfortable as the interior—there was no air-conditioning—it was just as crowded and just as noisy. The overhead speakers blasted out White Room by Cream. Everybody on the terrace was speaking at full volume.

One man, an American, was drowning out Eric Clapton’s meaty guitar solo with boasts about his business acumen. And a young Japanese woman, the only person trying to follow the man’s one-way conversation, was awestruck.

For a split second, Toyoda thought of giving the man a shove that would send him crashing down the stairs and knock the wind out of him. Then he relented and squeezed past him to go down to the street.

The humidity was stifling. It had rained until mid-afternoon, then the sun had come out, and the temperature had risen to thirty-five degrees. But it was the humidity—it stood at about ninety percent—that hit Toyoda the hardest. By the time he arrived at street level, Toyoda was drenched. He dialed headquarters and got an answer at the first ring.

“Where are you?” snapped Superintendent Tanaka. “I’ve been ringing for ages.”

“Roppongi,” he answered. “I didn’t hear the phone ringing.”

“I bet you didn’t,” said Tanaka. “What the hell are you doing there? Don’t you see enough foreigners when you’re on duty?”

“It’s Friday evening so I was just ….”

Tanaka cut him off. “Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself, because you’ve got work to do now. Get yourself off to Minami-Senju. And I mean now, not after another drink!”

“Minami-Senju?” groaned Toyoda, “What’s going on up there?”

“Suspicious death,” said Tanaka. “A dead foreigner, so that means we are involved.”

“Homicide?” asked Toyoda.

“How the hell should I know?” growled Tanaka. All I know is that we have a dead foreigner on our hands. Don’t ask any more questions; just get up there as fast as you can. Oh, and by the way, don’t even think about driving up there in that flashy Mercedes of yours! I’ve no intention of covering for you again.”

“It’s not a Mercedes, it’s a Porsche,” said Toyoda, cringing at the reminder of his latest, and most serious cockup, a reckless act of stupidity that could have cost him his career. Tanaka had covered up for him, but that meant he owed his boss something. And Tanaka would wait for the right moment before calling in his debt. Meanwhile, Toyoda had to jump every time Tanaka barked. And Tanaka had just barked.

“I’ll get a squad car from Azabu police station,” said Toyoda, “I wouldn’t risk taking my own car up to Senju. It would probably get stolen.”

He rang off and looked at the time before putting the phone back in his pocket. It had just turned seven o’clock; the evening had hardly begun but for him it had already ended—in tatters. He cursed his luck as he climbed the stairs back to the pub.

As he pushed the door open and entered, one of the foreigners dropped his pants and mooned him. The others cheered and howled with laughter. It was a sickening sight. The mooner was grossly overweight and carried a great part of his weight on his buttocks. Most Japanese would have froze, turned and gone straight back down the steps. But Toyoda was made of sterner stuff. Besides, he had seen it all before. He walked straight past the mooner, shoved a short, fat bald foreigner to one side and forced his way through the crowd.

One of the foreigners was slouched back in a chair with his legs stretched out across the floor. On his way past, Toyoda tripped over the legs and fell into the foreigner, elbowing him in the chest as he did so. The man grunted and dropped his glass, sending beer cascading across the floor. Before the foreigner realized what was happening, Toyoda apologized: “Sorry mate, tripped over some bugger’s foot!” He patted the foreigner on the shoulder, winked and walked into the back of the bar, where Yelena was waiting for him. As he walked away the foreigners all fell silent and stared after him.

“What the fuck was that all about?” said one of the foreigners.

“A Japanese with a Geordie accent!” said another. “I’ve heard it all now.”

“You should have decked him,” said the first one who had spoken.

“I don’t think it would have worked,” said the other. “Look at the size of the bastard. He was just hoping you would try something, and then he would have decked you. Confident bastard; he’s got to be connected.”

Yelena was talking into her cell phone when Toyoda dropped into his seat. She flashed a perfunctory smile and went on talking. Toyoda picked up his cigarettes, put them in his shirt pocket and stood up. Yelena covered the mouthpiece with her hand, “Just a moment, I’m almost finished.”

“Take your time,” said Toyoda, “I have to go.”

Yelena spoke hurriedly into the phone and rang off. “What do you mean, you have to go?” she said sharply. “You promised to take me to that new German restaurant. I haven’t eaten since breakfast and I’m starving.”

He shrugged. “Sorry. Something has happened, and I have to go. I’ll get back as soon as I can,” he promised, then he left her at the table and pushed his way through the crowd again. This time the foreigners saw him coming and moved respectfully out of the way.

He stopped at the door and turned back towards the foreigners. He looked the mooner straight in the eye. “You want to be careful who you show your arse to around here, mate. There are a lot of fellows who might find it too much temptation. And you wouldn’t want to lead anyone on, would you?” He tapped his nose and left the pub. A raucous bout of laughter followed him out the door.

He turned towards the Roppongi Intersection and set off for Azabu police station. The street was bustling. Although it was still early, the African touts were out in force. One of them grabbed his arm and tried to drag him towards a club. Toyoda shook himself free.

Another of the Africans, a gigantic man in a floral shirt, baggy trousers and a beret laughed out loud. He shouted something in Yoruba to the other African, who responded in the same language and then laughed.

“What’s the joke, Sonny?” Toyoda stopped in front of the large African, who held out his hand. Toyoda took it.

“He’s new on the street. I told him that he’d just tried to hustle a cop.”

Toyoda smiled. “That’s nothing,” he said. “A guy up there,” Toyoda pointed to the pub he had just left, “flashed me as I walked through the door.”

The African laughed “You should have flashed him…..with your warrant card. That would have brought him back to reality.”

Toyoda shook his head. “No point in giving that kind of information out unless it is really necessary.”

The African nodded in agreement. Toyoda turned and waved his hand in the air as he walked away.

Roppongi is certainly not Japan, he thought, savoring the aroma of roast chicken wafting across the sidewalk from the illegally parked rotisserie van. The Chicken Man, as the African who owned the rotisserie was known, interrupted his conversation with one of the Turks from the kebab van parked next to him to greet Toyoda. Toyoda nodded, but did not stop. A ten minute walk along Gaien Higashi Dori, he thought, and you practically go through the United Nations.

Toyoda strode into Azabu police station and went straight up to the front desk. The uniform sitting there looked surprised when Toyoda walked in. “You’re back early,” he said. “What happened, I thought you had the night off?”

“So did I,” replied Toyoda, somehow managing not to sound bitter. “The old man called me, and now I am off to Senju. Have you got a car and a driver to take me up there?”

The uniform gave a twisted smile and shook his head. “On a Friday evening? You’ll be lucky to get one before midnight. Anyway, what’s wrong with your own car? I thought you had it parked out back.”

Toyoda leant over the desk and breathed into the younger man’s face.

The uniform jerked his head back, waved his hand in front of his nose, and pulled a face. “That’s enough! I get the picture. It’s a taxi or the subway. And if I were you and I were in a hurry, I wouldn’t even bother trying to get a taxi. You’ll only end up sitting at the crossroads for the next thirty minutes or so. You’d be there by then on the subway.”

Toyoda grabbed a magazine from the desk and turned towards the door. “See you later.”

Chapter 2

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This is the third part of a dictionary of Japanese erotic vocabulary I have been compiling over the years. The left column has the term in kanji (pictographs) followed by the phonetic English spelling in parenthesis, with the English translation in the right column.

金玉 (kintama) testicles, balls

妓楼 (girō)  brothel

妓館 (gikan)  brothel

客取り (kyakutori)  prostitutes hunting for patrons

去勢 (kyosei)  castration

郭 (kurowa)  red-light district

郭通いをする (kurowagayoi o suru)  frequent a house of ill fame

下り腹 (kudaribachi)  loose bowels

傾城 (keisei)  beautiful woman; courtesan

傾城町 (keiseimachi)  courtesan’s quarters

検梅 (kenbai)  syphilis test

検蕃 (kenban)  geisha exchange

荒淫 (kōin)  sexual indulgence

交接 (kōsetsu)  sexual intercourse

交合 (kōgō)  sexual union

交尾 (kōbi)  copulation (in animals)

交媾 (kōkō) sexual union

好色 (kōshoku)  sensuality, lewdness, lust

好色漢 (kōshokukan)   a lewd man, a lecher; a satyr

好色家 (kōshokuka)    a lewd man, a lecher; a satyr

好色文学 (kōshobungaku)      pornographic literature

好色本 (kōshobon)    pornography; obscene literature

高等淫売婦 (kōtōinbaifu)   a high-class whore

公娼 (kōshō)  licensed prostitution

公娼制度 (kōshōseido)   state-regulated prostitution

公娼廃止 (kōshōhaishi)       abolition of licensed prostitution

公娼廃止運動 (kōshōhaishiundō)    movement against licensed prostitution

公娼を許す (kōshōwoyurusu)  permit licensed prostitution

強姦 (gōkan)  rape

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This is the second part of a dictionary of Japanese erotic vocabulary I have been compiling over the years. The left column has the term in kanji (pictographs) followed by the phonetic English spelling in parenthesis, with the English translation in the right column.

色男 (iro otoko) a paramour, a lady killer

色女 (iro onna) a concubine

色気 (iroke) sex appeal, sensuality

色気付く (irokezu ku) arrive at puberty

色好み (irogono mi)) sensuality, lust

色気違い (irokichigai)      sex mania

色狂い (irogurui / irokichigai)      sex mania

色町 (iromachi)      red-light district

色里 (irozato)         red-light district

色事 (irogoto)        love affair, love scene

色事師 (irogotoshi)           philanderer, lady killer

色話 (irobanashi)   love story; love talk

色敵 (irogataki)     love rival

色狂い (irogurui)   libertinism, dissipation

裏返しにする (uragaeshi ni suru)          go back to the same prostitute again

花魁 (oiran)                courtesan, high-class prostitute

男狂い (otokogurui)         wantonness; running after men

男役 (otokoyaku)               woman impersonating a man

女食い (onnakui)              a philanderer

女道楽 (onnadōraku)       sensual pleasures, debauchery

女の姿になる (onna no sugata ni naru)             disguise oneself as a woman

女たらし (onnatarashi)    a lady killer, a philanderer

花柳 (kanryū)         geisha girls, courtesans; red-light district

花柳界 (kanryūkai)                red-light district

花柳病 (kanryūbyō)                 venereal disease

官能的  (kan no teki) sensual

官能的快楽 (kan no teki kai raku) voluptuous pleasures

姦する (kan suru) rape; violate; have illicit intercourse

姦婦 (kanpu)          adulteress

姦淫 (kannin)         adultery

姦通 (kantsū)         adultery

姦通者 (kantsū)     adulteress

姦通罪 (kantsūzai)       crime of adultery

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“Who the hell does that fucking left-winger think she is?” said the prime minister, as he slumped into an armchair. “The trouble with these commies,” he continued, raising his right buttock off the chair to cut loose with a rasping fart,” is that they are all wind and no substance.”

“I hope that was only wind,” whispered Takeuchi, the prime minister’s private secretary, to a young colleague. “The last time he followed through with the substance, I had to take his pants to the cleaners.”

The prime minister settled back in his seat. “Who’s ever heard of a prime minister having to apologize for making a little joke?” he growled. “That’s the trouble with people today. No fucking sense of humor. Political correctness is a load of shite! Besides, it’s true. The horse did get an erection as she walked past. Millions of people saw it on television. And the horse had to be withdrawn from the race.”

“That the horse was withdrawn from the race,” said Takeuchi, “is beyond dispute, Prime Minister, but I don’t recall noticing that it had an erection.”

“I noticed it,” snapped the prime minister.

“Unfortunately, the video recording does not show the horse in a state of arousal,” responded Takeuchi.

“Videos can be doctored,” snarled the prime minister, his eyes practically on fire.

“But, Prime Minister,” said Takeuchi, “I was sitting next to you when the race came on TV. In fact, you even told me that you had word from a good source that the horse was going to win the race and that you had placed a bet on it. Besides, the horse was withdrawn from the race before the leader of the opposition walked past. And the official statement from the race track puts the withdrawal down to a leg injury.”

“Bollocks!” screamed the prime minister. “It was that frigging mini skirt that got the horse withdrawn. “Why, even Nancy practically got a hard on when she walked past—and he’s a puff!”

Takeuchi sighed. He knew that it was pointless to argue with the prime minister; so decided to get on with the business. “We have to resolve the situation with the female opposition member of parliament before it gets out of hand.”

“Bullshit!” growled the Prime Minister. “The woman must be an absolute fool if she thinks that she can take legal action against me unless I apologize publicly for making a little joke? He eased himself up and again farted violently. “She’ll have to prove that I said it.”

“But you did say it at the press conference,” said Takeuchi.

“I was speaking off the record, so those bastards had no right to quote me.”

“But, Prime Minister,” said Takeuchi, “I’ve told you many times that if you speak off the record, you should make it very clear in advance. It’s no good saying it after you are quoted in the newspapers.”

“She shouldn’t be in politics if she can’t take a joke,” responded the Prime Minister. “And if she doesn’t like jokes, she shouldn’t have joined a party which is the laughing stock of the whole country. Socialism went out of style with the ridiculous mini skirt she wears—and that was twenty-five years ago.” He let go with another explosive fart.

“In any case, Prime Minister,” said Takeuchi, “I recommend that you be careful about what you say from now on.”

“Balls,” screamed the Prime Minister. “I’m the Prime Minister, so I can say any fucking thing I want to.”

“There is also the comment you made about her breasts. That got on the front pages, too.”

“I only said that they were great, pendulous things, and it’s true. They are huge. I wouldn’t mind if someone said that I had a whopping chopper. In fact, I would be very pleased. Nobody’s ever said it though. I’m not like Setoyama. People say that to him all the time, and they are not kidding. He’s got an incredible dick. Have you seen it?”

Takeuchi, who was a bureaucrat not a politician, did not answer, instead he changed the subject.

“I hate to bring this up, Prime Minister, but the opposition have called for a session of the Diet tomorrow to discuss the Jusen business. I think we should have a cabinet meeting to plan our strategy for this business.

The Prime Minister glared at Takeuchi. “It’s that bloody woman again,” he snarled. “First she accuses me of sexual harassment, then she implies that I’ve been taking bribes.”

“I think you are overreacting, Prime Minister,” said Takeuchi. “She didn’t accuse you of taking bribes, at least not directly.”

“Like hell she didn’t. She said that there were certain member of the Diet guilty of taking kickbacks from big business, especially the construction industry. Then she asked me if I were happy in my new house.  If that is not an underhand accusation, I don’t know what is. Everybody knows that my new house was not a bribe, it was a birthday present from one of my best friends.”

“Who just happens to be the president of one of the largest construction companies in Japan,” said Takeuchi. “And one week after your birthday his company was awarded the contract to build the new government training center.”

“Whose fucking side are you on,” asked the Prime Minister, “mine or hers?”

“Yours, of course, Prime Minister.”

“You didn’t hear me threaten to sue her for her accusations, did you?”

“No, I didn’t,” said Takeuchi. “But I heard you call her a horse-faced lesbian with a dick for a tongue. So did about five hundred others who were present in the Diet this morning.”

“Well, she is a lesbian. Everybody knows that.”

“I understand you logic, Prime Minister, but just because she is forty-eight years old and still single doesn’t mean that she’s a lesbian. Besides, last week you said that she had serviced the entire shadow cabinet after their Christmas party. There seems to be a contradiction there somewhere.”

The Prime Minister farted aggressively. “By the way, have you made reservations for the Yanagi tonight? I’m having a drink with Setoyama and Nancy.”

“Yes,” sighed Takeuchi. “I confirmed the reservation this morning. Would you like me to arrange for your driver to collect you when you are ready to go?” He got no answer, so he turned around. The prime minister was fast asleep.

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Although the Japanese authorities turn a blind eye to most of the sexual establishments that openly flaunt the law—prostitution, for example, is illegal, but brothels operate over the country—the police in Osaka raided a cabaret club last December and arrested six of the employees and one male customer for indecent exposure. What one may ask prompted the police to take action in this case? Well, it would seem that a self-styled “sexual cabaret club” had ignored repeated warnings “for going too far”.

When the police entered the club they found the female employees, totally naked, servicing their male clients, who were in various stages of undress. One of the customers greeted the policemen by flashing his genitals at them, and for this act of defiance he was promptly arrested. The others, who were more discreet with their gentials, were just warned and released.

The club offered an exotic menu of sexual services to its hardcore regulars—and the service started at the door. On entering the club, the customer would be given a hot towel, which the hostess had first of all used to wipe her genitals, to wipe his face. He would then be served a drink of the hostess’s urine on the rocks—the hostess would insert the ice into her most intimate part before putting it into the glass. Next on the menu would be an array of snacks sprinkled with pubic hair.

After the food and drinks the real business would begin. Trousers would be lowered or removed entirely and the customer would choose his preferred sexual act from a list that featured hand and oral stimulation as well as penetration of either of the lower orifices. And this all took place in one room that could cater for up to twenty customers simultaneously.

The closure of one club is not going to make much of an impact on Japan’s most profitable industry—the sex trade—and it is not even going to drive the clubs underground. In fact, nobody would be surprised it the club were to open up again with an even more outrageous range of activities on the menu.

© Charles R. Pringle 2008

All rights reserved

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The Japanese have never been shy or squeamish about sex. Modern Japanese have an ambivalent attitude toward the subject: on the one hand they feign shock and horror at the mention of sex; on the other hand pornography — soft and hardcore — is ubiquitous, and sexual establishments offering extensive menus are found throughout the country. It is hardly surprising then that shunga, the woodblock prints once considered mass-market erotica but now viewed as high art, originated in Japan.

Shunga, which translates as “images of spring,” evolved from matrimonial manuals for newlyweds called makura-ebon or “pillow books” that featured graphic images of foreplay and a gamut of sexual positions deemed essential to a successful marriage. In the 1680s, however, when advances in technology reduced the time and cost of producing woodblock prints, the focus of the erotic prints switched from one of education to one of titillation.

With this switch, a new name for the genre was coined. Shunga, as it became known, is a combination of two words: “shun” from “baishun” (“selling spring” — a euphemism for prostitution) and “ga” (picture). This term was chosen because most shunga dealt with the world of prostitution, a flourishing industry in Edo (now Tokyo) by the 17th century.

Edo‘s population suffered an imbalance of the sexes — there were thousands of samurai or male vassals in the service of the shogun, or feudal lord, quartered in the city and very few available women — that greatly boosted demand for prostitution. This demand was met with the establishment of Yoshiwara, a twenty-acre brothel complex housing over 3,000 prostitutes. It was here that shunga was born.

Shunga prints were originally created to advertise the facilities in Yoshiwara, including the tea houses, restaurants and theaters, as well as the brothels. But the new art form quickly took on a life of its own, portraying every imaginable form of sexual activity from straight heterosexual acts through sodomy, pedophilia, bestiality and a wide range of fetishes. Hand scrolls and albums featuring shunga soon became popular, and the prints were enjoyed by both men and women of all ranks, from the very top of society to the bottom.

To Westerners, shunga prints were originally difficult to assimilate. The sexual acts in many of the prints are often grossly caricatured, with outrageously proportioned genitalia — perhaps because native Japanese religions practiced phallic worship — and extraordinary sexual positions. The subjects are frequently reduced to graphic icons with facial features that seldom vary.

The distinct lack of expression on the faces of the subjects, especially the women, is a characteristic of shunga. In the shunga The Masseur and the Girl, the woman featured is surely about to bite off more than she can chew, yet her face remains expressionless. Most women confronted with such a monstrous male organ would certainly appear surprised. The Older Women and the Young Man, however, is one of those rare prints in which the women do show expression, this time at the sight of the young man’s enormity. One of the women looks absolutely thrilled, while the other appears shocked.

Nakedness in itself was not considered erotic. Public nudity was a way of life for the Japanese — mixed bathing in public bathhouses was the norm — before the country opened up to the West and adopted many of the sexual repressions of the Victorians. Consequently, most of the figures in shunga are either clothed or half clothed, with only their genitalia exposed, a condition that was and still is considered highly stimulating by the Japanese.

In the restricted living spaces of old Japan — and to some extent, those of today — sexual activities were often semi public, so it is no surprise that group sex scenes also feature in shunga, as do scenes in which a couple are having sex in front of children. An exaggerated perspective of Japanese open-mindedness can be seen in At the River’s Edge, in which a group of people unashamedly pleasure each other.

Another common feature of shunga is the presence of a voyeur. In The Voyeur, the watcher is a woman and more than likely a younger prostitute observing the performance as part of her training. In The Cuckold, however, the man hiding under the futon to observe the tryst has a contorted facial expression that could mean he is masturbating, another common theme in shunga. The characters engaged in the sexual activity are usually blissfully unaware that they are under observation, no matter, as in the print titled Out of the Mosquito Net, how blatant the act of peeping is. An interesting twist on the role of the voyeur in shunga is the man in Unnoticed Affair. Hearing a noise in the room beneath, the man strains his ears and is surprised at the noises coming from below. “I’ll have to ask the wife,” he says to himself, “if she’s ever heard that sucking noise down there.”

Unlike countries bound by Christian ethics, Japan has never frowned on masturbation. It therefore comes as no surprise to find that self-stimulation frequently appears in shunga. Voyeurs peeping around a corner or through a space in the shoji (sliding screens) at a copulating couple are often masturbating. Women are often shown stimulating themselves while a man looks on, as in Man Watching Woman Masturbate, or a woman taking a man, often a younger than her, in hand, as in The Boy and the Older Woman.

In the creation of shunga, reality usually took backseat to artistic freedom. In Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife by the renowned ukiyoe artist Hokusai, an octopus — with the eyes of a lecherous man — is performing oral sex on an ecstatic woman. Female abalone divers, who dived for shellfish in the costal areas, were popular subjects in shunga, and were occasionally depicted pleasuring themselves with sea creatures such as a sea cucumber, an animal that, like the male penis, stiffens and ejects a jet of fluid when stroked.

Although there was no stigma attached to shunga — all the great Japanese woodblock artists produced them — the arrival of Commodore Perry in 1853 was the beginning of the end for this unique art form. A new form of morality was imposed on the country and shunga disappeared from sight. Fortunately, most of the prints were saved and now appear in museums and art books around the world. The exception is Japan, where, ironically, shunga is proscribed as pornographic.

© Charles R. Pringle 2007

All rights reserved

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