Tag Archives: Japan

How to have the perfect WMAF relationship

How to have the perfect WMAF relationship

Having a relationship with a young Asian woman is the target for most single white men. If you are a man taken aback by the bewildering number of women pursuing alternative lifestyles (lesbianism, gender non-conformity) you will be pleased to know that most Asian women are still very traditional and have not caught on to modern cultural habits.

Making sure she is right for you

The best Asian women are home-makers and mothers. They want to make a home for their partner and later on their family… this is her nature. Most Asian women desire to marry, unlike women in the west who are going down their own paths, turning their back on centuries of social conventions. 

Finding the right Asian wife is easy now that the Internet allows us to contact women all over the world without leaving the home. There are dating websites that you can join to allow you to find your perfect Asian partner. Whether you are looking for a girl from South Korea, Japan, or The Phillipines, she is out there wating for you. 

Arranging a meeting

Once you have messaged your Asian woman, you can then decide if you would like to meet her in her country or ask her to travel to you. Please keep in mind that some women will not be able to travel long distances, so you will need to arrange to visit her in her country. 

Getting to know her friends and family

Most Asian women will want to introduce you to her family as long as you are getting on well and are a good match for each other. Be patient when you meet her parents. They may not have very good English. As long as you are patient, you will find that they are happy to have a good relationship with you when they see that you are working hard to get on wit their daughter.

Marriage

Once you have got to know her, and been together for more than a year, the next step is to consider marriage. This is what most Asian women are expecting from you, even if they don’t ask for it directly. The reason is that in some Asian countries, there is less support for ummarried couples, so it makes sense from a financial sense to be in a legally recognised relationship.

Staying together and making things work

I don’t have the stats for how many WMAF relationships end in divorce or separation, but marriage is difficult for everyone. IT’s common for couples to fall out over very small trivial things that signal deeper problems. For example, sleeping habits or lack of cleanliness. Show your willingness to support her as much as you can, but my number one piece of advice that I have heard is: never take your Asian partner for granted. Women in the west may enjoy being independent more but you need to keep her close to you at all times. Not taking her for granted means you can’t spend every saturady night out drinking with your friends expecting her to be happy to wait up for you. If you want to leave her at home whilst you go out balling it with your friends I would suggest that you aren’t really suitable for a beautiful Asian wife. 

Keeping things interesting in the bedroom

Many relationships flounder in the bedroom, because couples aren’t communicating about what they want from each other. It’s common for things to lose their spice. And some couples may fall out of lust with each other.  But as the old saying goes, those who enjoy the party stay the longest! Share erotic stories, watch pornography together, and even try swinging. All of these things can have a very beneficial effect on your sexual relationship.

Too much Tokyo, Not enough Vice

‘They found a way to monetise suicides? Even for yakuza, that’s pretty fucked-up’

Episode 3 of Tokyo Vice.

The central idea behind the series is that it takes a foreign, white male to uncover the sinister truth behind a spate of recent deaths that have seen pensioners kill themselves. Jake Adelstein wrote the book in 2005, giving his account of how he became the first foreign writer of the crime section of a Japanese newspaper. The book was notable for two things: one, it was a real-life account of the yakuza practices, rather than the fictionalised version seen in films. Second, the book uncovered some shocking information about a previously covered up crime involving the death of director Juzo Itami. the book also revealed how often Adelstein had put his neck on the line and risked meeting a similar fate to the director whose films had drawn the wrath of the yakuza on so many occasions.

The Yakuza Boss in Tokyo Vice

Those expecting to see a close adaptation are going to be disappointed. Right away, the credits tell us that it’s only ‘based’ on the book. They use the character of Jake Adelstein and some of the newspaper figures, but that’s about it. There’s no mention of Juzo Itami or the Goto Gion Yakuza group. Maybe the producers didn’t want to meet the same fate as Itami?

The first episode, directed by Michael Mann is certainly a strong opener. At this point, Jake is still working as an English teacher, although not for long. After he passes the gruelling kanji exam, he takes his place at the newspaper where he is the only foreign born member of staff. but after the excitement of the opener, the TV show settles down and then takes a long time to find the heart of the drama or engage us fully with Jake.

Many reviewers have criticised the casting of Ansel Egort as not exciting for the lead.

Jake starts to make progress, but is often cut off by a female reporter who is unwilling to give him any leeway in how he writes the crime reports. Alongside the story of Jake, there is an American escort (Rachel Keller) working for a yakuza owner of a hostess bar. The storyline is only loosely linked to Jake, and this character was never even in the book. Obviously, the producers wanted to include another American face, and so they decided to use another American actor. Unfortunately, scenes involving her are some of the most boring in the series and they really drag the show down, as well as adding to the running time. episode 6, mainly focusing on how she came to Japan as a missionary worker is particularly unnecessary.

Rachel Keller plays a hostess in one of the night-clubs of Kabukicho.

The Real Jake Adelstein

Mr Jake Adelstein himself

Ansel Egort is far too clean-cut for the role of Jake. In reality, Adelstein was a lot more rough and prepared to get his hands dirty (literally in the case of the red light district). The character seems to lord his way above most of the Japanese staff, not helped by being a lot taller than most of them.

It’s like they deliberately chose a much taller actor than the Japanese cast.

Still, I watched it to see some excellent Japanese actors, and I wasn’t disappointed. all the nuances of the Japanese language are here, and it’s fascinating to see the varying degrees of deference shown. Yakuza bosses are adressed most politely, and even humble customers are referred to as ‘Okyakusama wa kamisama’ ,meaning the customer is God. The Nightlclub scenes show the pulsating rhythms and music of the period, and the women are often very beautiful. It’s just that when you have a show calling itself ‘Tokyo Vice’, you expect to be in for some very graphic stuff, which the show doesn’t fully deliver on.

A nightclub scene.

Rob in Japan’s Guide to Kumamoto

On the Southern island of Kyushu,Kumamoto is a city in Japan. It’s mostly rural and there are many beautiful sights to visit. Most people who have heard about the city know about the Kumamoto Bear, a mascot created to draw tourists to the region when the Shinkansen opened in 2010.

This loveable character has been seen countless times, thanks to free licensing rights that mean the image can be used as long as it promotes the area, and in fact the bear is the most popular mascot in Japan.

Some souvenirs from Kumamoto Prefecture.

You can buy all kinds of snacks for souvenirs in the shops. As it is for other cities, everything is impressively packaged and the service is first class, as you would expect.

Mount Kinbo

The mountain in Kumamoto is an extinct caldera volcano; it still smokes but does not erupt. It’s perfect for a day of sightseeing!

Kumamoto Castle

Considered to be one of three most important castles in Japan. In truth, it looks the same as any castle you will find all over Japan.

Food

Kumamoto is famous for ramen. It’s not as greasy as Hokkaido ramen, and includes sliced garlic and sesame oil.

Kumamoto Ramen

Getting there

Fly to Fukuoka, the largest city in the region, and travel by bus or train to Kumamoto.

Japanese Big-tit play

Japanese big-tit play

When it comes to Asian women there are various fetishes around. Some men are turned on by the ultra skinny girls with tiny waists and narrow legs that are all you see in China and Korea. But for my money, I’d choose a big-titted Japanese girl.  There’s just something about the combination of their cute faces (less sharp and more rounded than other Asians) along with their soft simpering voices and huge tits that hang over their soft torsos that I can’t get over.

I met Mitsumi when I was browsing over some accessories at the Japanese centre.  I asked about the incense sticks that she was selling. I could have asked the man who was also working there, but what would be the point of that?

After thoroughly going through the various scents, I managed to lightly brush up against her arm. I could see Mitsumi’s breasts straining against the fabric of her t-shirt, and the thickness of the strap suggested that she was a D or E cup, at the very least. She was wearing an apron over the t-shirt, so I couldn’t see any cleavage, but there was no hiding from the fact that she had massive tits.

As she didn’t seem to mind me touching her, I decided to go back the following day to see if I could meet her one evening. Mitsumi was cleaning up and the manager had already gone home for the night.

Mitsumi was wearing the same outfit, and as she was sweeping the floor, the strap of her apron fell loose. Finally, she got tired of pulling it up and then she took it off and put it on the seat.

I wasted no more time and went in inside to speak to her.

“Oh, hi,” she said. ‘I’m sorry, we’re about to close.”
I walked in to the shop and shut the door.

That’s ok. I’m not here to buy anything.”

Mitsumi put the broom down and then put it in the back.

“Have you tried the incense?”

“I have. It’s great, thank you for recommending it. Do you have a few minutes so  that we can talk?

“I don’t mind.”

“Great.”

Mitsumi closed the door and flipped the sign over to ‘Closed.’

She led me to the store-room at the back of the shop.

She sat down on one of the office chairs, and leant forward slightly. She seemed to enjoy letting me have a better look at her wonderful breasts.

I decided to ask her if she had a boyfriend.

“No, I don’t have time at the moment.”

“That must be boring sometimes,” I said.

“It is.”

“You must get a lot of looks from men in the shop?”

“Oh, some of them. Like, this one guy recently who couldn’t stop staring at me.”

I hoped she wasn’t talking about me.

‘So I usually wear these t-shirts when I work here, even though at home I like to wear looser, low-cut tops, I just get too many looks if I dress like that here.’

“I would love to see you wearing those,” I offered her by way of subtle suggestion, and watched her smile at me.

“Can you be good? I’ll show you something but we need to be careful.

Follow me.”

Mitsumi led me to another room at the back that was used for storing stationery and other materials.

“Sit down.”

I followed her order and was dumbstruck when Mitsumi sat on top of me and started to thrust her chest directly into my face, so that I was surrounded by her soft tit-flesh.

“Would you like to see more?”

I nodded silently as she lifted up her t-shirt to her neck, and I gazed at her breasts as they sat upright in her pale blue bra. Her hair was loose and she gave her tits a little shake for me, letting her black fringe swish over her round face. I was about to get the greatest strip of my life – a one-man porn film starring me was about to start.

Mitsumi turned around and revealed her back to me, the thick band of her bra was within reach, and she took my hands and placed them on each of her breasts. I gave them a squeeze and lifted them up under the cups so that her breasts were as high as her chin.

Mitsumi gasped gently, and I felt her nipples stiffening beneath the gauzy material of her bra.

“Are you going to kiss them for me?”

Mitsumi used my hands to unclasp them, and squeezed her arms together so that her bra fell down to her waist.

The curves of her tits were overshadowing her upper body, making perfect round arcs.

“Kiss them for me.”

I turned her around and she lifted her right breast up so that I could suck it, and I used my tongue to stimulate her nipples gently.

“Oh, yessss,” she sighed.

She was moaning a lot, so I let my hands roam over her breasts all the while using my tongue to give her more caresses.

“Mmmmm, you are so good at that.”

‘Well, I am a breast –man. So, I’ve always wondered…. can you cum just from having your tits massaged?

“I sometimes do. They are quite sensitive.”

I slowed down with my tonguing as I didn’t want to get tired, not that I wasn’t having the time of my life!”

“Did I make you excited?” she asked, eyeing the bulge in my trousers.

“Let me help you with that.”

I was really turned on now, especially as she had become aroused enough for her nipples to have turned completely stiff from all the sucking and fondling.

“Would you like a tit-wank?”

She positioned herself higher than me and used some spit to make her breasts smooth and slippery.

My erection bulged out of my trousers and I let it pop out of my fly.

Mitsumi gave it strokes with her palm and I let my hands wander back to her massive mammaries.

I was almost spinning. My cock was smushed between her tits and her hands were on my balls. Mitsumi moving her tits up and down was creating the most perfect sensations. I felt an aching sensation inside and cried out.

Ahhh!!! Fuckkkk!!!!

“Ohhh, sorry.”

I watched my cum spread out of my cock, flooding her chest, and dripping down.

“No need to apologise. I’m sorry I didn’t give you time to come.”

Mitsumi looked at my slyly and said

“How do you know I didn’t? Here, I’ll clean you up.”

She pulled some tissues out of her bag and rubbed my penis gently.

As we sat, she propped my head against her chest so that I could enjoy the view one more time…..

Ahhh!!! Fuckkkk!!!!

“Ohhh, sorry.”

I watched my cum spread out of my cock, flooding her chest, and dripping down.

“No need to apologise. I’m sorry I didn’t give you time to come.”

Mitsumi looked at my slyly and said

“How do you know I didn’t? Here, I’ll clean you up.”

She pulled some tissues out of her bag and rubbed my penis gently.

As we sat, she propped my head against her chest so that I could enjoy the view one more time…..

Wearing a kimono; cultural appropriation or not?

These days, there’s so much talk of what’s appropriate or not that you worry precisely when you’re going to be called out for some lack of political correctness.

Remember when Katy Perry wore this to the American Music Awards? Some of the comments at that time ranged from ‘she looks so pretty’ to cries of outrage and a sense that the outfit was cultural appropriation. There were some who felt that Perry had no right to wear the kimono – a Japanese cultural emblem that dates back to the Edo period. Most of the haters failed to realise that it was just a performance – nothing different from a stage show , or let’s use Madame Butterfly as another, slightly different example wherein white singers play the parts of Japanese characters.

Katy Perry’s infamous Geisha dance

Scroll through the negative comments on Youtube and you won’t find any from Japanese people. It seems that nearly all Japanese people are pretty much fine whenever someone not Japanese decides to wear a Kimono. Yet, many still feel that whenever people step outside their culture to wear ethnic clothing they are committing a crime tantamount to racism, or at the very least, cultural appropriation.

I got my own taste of this recently when I borrowed a kimono to wear for the day. Most people understood what I was doing but I was blind-sided by the comments of some. What right did I, as a privileged white male – have wearing a Japanese garment that Japanese people have been mocked for wearing? The argument being that I can never wear a kimono with good intent? Did it make any difference that I was wearing it correctly? Or that it was assembled and sewn by a Japanese person? Apparently not. By this point, I couldn’t think of a good argument that would sufficiently counter these claims.

My head was spinning. Were these people actually saying that people of certain races should be prevented from wearing the clothes of other races? Weren’t they guilty of the same racism and intolerance that I was being accused of? Still more fantastic was the argument that those of true Japanese culture had no say in the debate because they couldn’t appreciate the discrimination that second generations of Japanese had to face in America.

the good news is that I went away with more enthusiasm for the kimono than ever, and I resolved to wear it again as much as I can. I looked for examples of people like me who love wear Japanese clothes (plenty, it turns out). And I looked at examples of famous people over the years and found so many. David Bowie proudly wearing one as ‘Ziggy Stardust’; Bjork for her album cover ‘Homogenic’. Perhaps there are many more for those who care to look. The kimono has permeated our clothing habits so much that we are not aware that a dressing room is a simplified kimono – see Obi Wan Kenobi in the first Star Wars film. No-one cried ‘cultural appropriation’ then, and they shouldn’t now. If we aren’t careful, we risk creating a world where no-one can ever really understand the culture of other countries or experience it – something that would make the world a much less diverse and interesting place. I say let everybody wear whatever they want.

Book review

Ms Ice Sandwich – Mieko Kawakami [Pushkin Press] 2017

‘The only people in the whole world who know about Ms Ice Sandwich are me and Grandma.’

In this slender volume, a junior high school develops a tentative relationship with a mysterious shop worker who is never mentioned by name, yet begins to maintain a hold on the boy as he struggles with other problems of growing up.

If your awareness of Japanese literature only goes as far as manga comics, you may be surprised to see that there are several up-and-coming Japanese writers whose works have been translated in English, such as this one.

Whilst it’s a short and simple story, there are some nice emotion and details. The teenage protagonist comes across as naive, especially when his female classmate invites him to come to her house and watch a film. This makes up an extended passage, where the girl re-enacts one of the set piece shoot-outs from the Michael Mann film ‘Heat’.

Otherwise, its a gentle story, all told from the point of view of the young narrator who has an interesting relationship with everyone around him, including his grandmother, who is on hand to offer an older perspective on life around him.

Published by Pushkin Press, in English.

Flight of fantasy

The plane seemed to have been travelling forever. They had been in the air for a few hours, but the time seemed to be going more slowly up there. The plane had made it’s ascent from a London airport a few hours ago, at 2:30 local time. Now it was impossible to know where exactly the plane was, there was nothing outside the window to indicate the country they were flying over. Only two hours earlier, the food trolley had wheeled its way down the aisle and he had selected his meal.

Now he was well into the flight. He had taken his shoes off and was enjoying the in-flight entertainment system. The movie was about a father who had become reunited with his daughter after many years apart. What made it more moving was that the daughter only had a few months to live. When he got to the end of the film he felt like crying.  HE gazed around at the other passengers. They were all absorbed in their various activities. Some were trying to sleep, their neck pillows awkwardly positioned in the headrests. Others were looking at their laptops. They didn’t seem very interesting to him. HE wondered why so few people really cared about their journey, or where they were flying to. The flight attendants had served everybody in great time, and had poured the coffee as he was still eating his steak. He looked at his watch. Local time was 7:30 and he didn’t feel very sleepy. In fact, the coffee had given him jolt of extra energy. Sat in his chair, he felt restless, his body did not want to be still.

He decided to get up and explore. The plane was not entirely full. There were several empty seats around him. In fact, it was not often that there were so many seats on an international flight. There were usually several children and a crying baby that would stay up on the journey. Surprisingly, this time there were no children on board. In fact, most of the passengers were travelling alone and weren’t the usual holiday-goers. The other thing he noticed about them was they didn’t have much luggage with them. Usually travellers carried bags of duty free, they had bags of shopping and various carry on. But this flight was different. They had boarded with minimal luggage, and more to the point, they were exceptionally    quiet, which was odd for people going on holiday who would normally be excitedly talking about their destination.
The flight attendants were all female. He didn’t expect this to be so but it was always pleasant when they were, and occasionally he flew with other airlines and was shocked to find men serving amongst the women. 1

“Can I get you any drinks?”

Usually the use of ‘get’ in this way bothered him but right now he was enjoying the experience of being served by this woman that it was too much for it to bother him. The attendant had to lean over him to pass his glass of wine to him and the feeling of her apron against his shirt made him tingle with pleasure.

Would you like me to bring you something else?” she asked him?

He thought for a moment. There were lots of things he would have liked to get from her. She was wearing a bright red apron with embroidered patterns on it. Her dress was regulation length but he could see that she had good legs. Here height was at most 170cms (and he didn’t mind; he had never liked tall women anyway.

Then he heard an announcement over the plane’s loudspeaker.

“This is your captain speaking. We are currently experiencing some turbulence, Please stay in your seats and keep your seatbelt fastened.”

HE watched as the flight attendants quickly got back to their seats, which were somewhere at the back of the plane.

He hoped that the turbulence would be over quickly. As he fastened his seatbelt, he thought what a wonder it was to be flying. There was no other transport that came close. It was when he was in an aircraft that he felt he could relax properly, a place where no one could get to him. He enjoyed being up in the sky for several hours at once. Time seemed to stop. The plane started to shake violently. It must have been a storm that caused it to flap around so much. Whatever it was, he thought about the flight attendants in the plane. Where did they go at times like these? On a ten-hour flight, he only saw them during take-off and when they were serving the in-flight meals. There weren’t any seats back in economy for them to properly lay down in.  Unless there happened to be some private rooms tucked away, they must have been sitting in cramped seats no bigger than the one he was sitting in at that moment.

AS the plane began to steady itself, he waited for the seatbelt sign to be switched off so that he could move about on the plane. He also wanted to see where the special flight attendant was sitting so that he could talk to her again. Would she be wearing her high-heeled shoes? Or would she have slipped them off? Feet could swell, he knew, although he couldn’t imagine this would be a big problem for her. If she was relaxing, would she be sleeping, or was she required to stay awake for the entire duration of the flight? It led to other questions. Where did they change clothes? How did they use the bathroom, and where did they store their bags? All these were a mystery to him. So he decided to take a look for himself. It wasn’t too hard as there were plenty of seats at the back of the plane that were empty. He wandered back where the flight attendants were seated and thought of what he would say to them.

I’m wondering if you could pour me another drink, he asked her. I know drink service has finished but I’m parched and this is a long-distance flight so-“

“What would you like?”

“I would like a gin and tonic.”

The drink would need ice cubes, which had to be scooped out from the bowl at the bottom of the trolley. It was a good thing he didn’t mind waiting.

Heard the sharp hiss of the carbon dioxide in the tonic water rise out of the bottle. The flight attendant was so tall that she had to lean over the drinks table. He thought she looked extremely sexy in her uniform; her stockings shimmered in the dim light of the cabin whilst her face took on an air of studied concentration as she measured the gin and filled the glass.

Waiting for the drink was part of the satisfaction, and when it finally arrived he was more than ready for it.

“ would you like something to go with it?”

He thought for a moment.

“I’ll take some nuts if you have them.”

She picked up some nuts and put them on a steel plate, handed them to him, and took hold of the trolley again.

Stop a minute, he told her. Why don’t you sit down with me? If you have time I mean.

She looked at him, assessing the situation.

“Well, I don’t suppose that would be a problem for just a few minutes…”

The flight attendant squeezed into one of the seats (she really was tall) and he got in beside her. She was like a praying mantis with her legs perched up high towards her arms.

A minute later they were talking about how she got to being an airline worker; whether she liked the job or not.

“It’s funny, when I was younger I never went on holidays. I was always afraid of flying and for that reason I decided to overcome my fear, and this seemed like the best way of doing that.”

Yes, they said that if I took a stimulator first it would allow me to experience the feeling of being in an airplane without leaving the ground.

The noise of the plane’s engine started to get very loud and it felt as though it was moving faster now. Just as he finished his drink the plane began to move upward some more and he felt the pressure in the cabin increasing.

“I want to learn how to pilot a plane one day, when you’re in control of the plane it must be a wonderful feeling to be taking people on a journey somewhere exciting.”

He looked around at the passengers. They were all sitting by themselves and he noticed that there were no children on board either. He started to feel strange and he wondered why this was happening.

“ Where is this flight going?” He asked after a gap in the conversation.

“It’s not going anywhere, we’re flying for an unlimited time until passengers decide they want to leave.

“Then what happens to them?”

Usually when a passenger has grown tired of eating all the food we send another jet to come and collect them and get them to the nearest airport.”

So the rest of the passengers are not really flying anywhere?

“Exactly. Most of our passengers are perfectly content to stay on board as long as two weeks. They have everything they need on board anyway, and they are much safer up here than on the ground.”

“But don’t they get bored?”

You would think so, but many of our passengers have been coming back for several years. “

He looked out the window. Whether it was day or night was impossible to tell. The air he was breathing in was neither fresh nor stale. Every hour the cabin was refreshed with new “air” from the tanks, to stop the air becoming stuffy and to minimize the spread of germs in the air.  

He read somewhere that time moved slower at the top of a mountain than it did on the flat land. In that case, was time moving at all when you were flying in the air, when it was only night for a few hours until it became day again?

 It was a strange way to spend a holiday, never visiting anywhere; but people did all kinds of crazy things on holiday.

“Well, how long do you think I should spend up here?”

“That depends. Did you wish to speak to any of our flight attendants? You can arrange to have dinner in the private dining area if you want to.”

Suddenly the idea of being alone on the aircraft was starting to get improve.

“Would it be possible to have dinner with you?” He already felt comfortable with her even though they had only been talking for twenty minutes.

I’m having dinner

“Yes that will be fine. But will you let me tell you something first? I usually say know when people ask me to have dinner with them. “

“they must really ask you a lot then.”

“They do. But that’s not why I turn them down.”

 Im aware that men look at me in a certain way, maybe they have a fantasy about me based on my appearance, but it’s not how I am in person. I would hate for you to get the wrong idea about me.”

He picked up his bag and went to the washroom. There were the usual assortments of toiletries, hairbrush and toothbrush for him to use. He thought about changing his clothes but then he decided he was fine the way he was. Actually, he was feeling confident and he probably could have changed into the dressing gown and been ok like that. He wouldn’t normally have been so confident, of course. But the fact she had said yes, just like that, made him feel so much better about things. 

Lena was wearing slim-fitted black jeans that matched the colour of her hair. She had paired her top with a sexy patterned scarf and black choker. She looked much less formal than when she was in her flight uniform, but he was just as attracted to her now, if not more.

They were sitting in a small back room in the plane, with a large table and several chairs positioned around it. The usual hum of the plane’s engines could not be heard and the room was hushed and quiet.

‘So is this where you do your flight attendant work?’ he asked her?

“We do most of our safety exercises and procedures here.”

“It sounds so interesting. I’m sorry that they don’t do the pre-flight safety demonstrations any more. I used to enjoy watching those, it was always interesting seeing their expressions as they mimed the use of an inflatable safety vest….”

“We find that most passengers prefer to watch a recorded video instead of focusing so much on a flight attendant. The eye contact makes them feel uncomfortable and they don’t know where to look.”

“Maybe I understand, but it’s going to take me some time to get used to this new way of doing things.”

“What is it you miss about the way it used to be done?”

“The amount of dedication they had for their craft, and they way they could perform with a sense of theatre.”

She smiled.

“Did I do that when I poured your drink just now?”

“ you really put all your effort in to it.”

“Besides, air travel has changed in so many ways. The way passengers board the plane, the safety requirements and the lack of space.

DO you know how much the standard seat width has shrunk since the 1960s?

He looked at his glass of wine and admired the slender stem. They had clearly thought a great deal about the tableware they provided. It wasn’t just that they were nice glasses, but that they were the perfect shape for the table and could hold just the right amount of liquid.

“I’m not sure.”

“Well, it’s a lot. Standard seat width for a commercial flights is now thirty inches. Many of our customers request seats with extra legroom but we can’t offer them anything unless they sit in the emergency exits, or First class. Well, we’d like all passengers to have the same standard of comfort but unfortunately that’s not always comfortable. So we can only give them these reduced-space seats at the back of the plane.

“Well, let’s see what we have for dinner. Are you hungry?”

He looked at the menu which was printed in extra fine font on slightly crinkled paper.  It was the usual mishmash of international food. For the appetiser they were offering seared prawns with simmered avocado qenelles. The mains looked more interesting. The fish was red snapper, grilled and served with a hot wasabi dressing. Meat was a loin of pork with grapefruit jam and chorizo.

It was the kind of food that would be difficult to reheat without losing all the texture. They must have had an amazing team back there in the kitchen if they could produce this kind of food.

“I will have the prawns, followed by the pork. That’s it.”

It was nice eating in a plane; you only had two options and either one was likely to be as good as the other so that he never felt any misgivings about his choices.

‘You know something,” he said to her as she was pouring the wine; ‘I’ve never had a bad meal on a plane.”

“Really? I’m happy to hear it, but you don’t have to be so polite with me.”

“No, I’m serious. Everything has always been fresh, served at the correct temperature, well-presented…. You’d be amazed by the number of restaurants that can’t get that right.”

“We just want everything to be just right for our guests.”

‘But now I think about it, there’s not much they could do if I did’t like the food. I suppose I could try asking for another one. But it’d be exactly the same anyway…”

“Yes, we’d only be able to offer you the same dish cooked exactly the same way.”

The plane carried on flying cruise control. It was almost as if it was following a pre-determined course.

“Do you ever get tired of flying? He asked her.

“Why do you ask me that?”

Just being stuck in the air. Only seeing the airports and never going anywhere exciting.”

“Well we get three days off after every ten. That usually gives us some time to do something exciting.”

“What about when you’re on the plane? All those stupid passenger requests and screaming babies. It would be enough to tip me over the edge.”

“That’s why I’m only working these planes.  I only serve single passengers like you. Besides, we get used to serving difficult passengers after working a few weeks.”

“Do you? That’s interesting….”

He didn’t know what to say next. He admired the curvature of her neck. It was amazing how unique a woman’s body was; there were always different body parts that drew to his attention. As well as being aroused by the whole package, he was able to be stimulated by very specific features as well. Lena’s ears were long, shaped like treble clefs, and her mouth was so enticing he felt that he could fall into it.

“Aren’t you ever afraid of the plane crashing, or having engine failure?”

“Of course, it goes through my mind. We have the best safety measures in place, but there’s always the possibility that something may go terribly wrong. If it does, then we would need everybody off the plane as quickly as possible.”

“You would let the passengers off the plane first, or would you rush past them to the emergency exits?”

“We would be required to make sure that everyone was able to reach the doors first, otherwise we wouldn’t be doing our jobs. But I’m sure that some people would not be so altruistic as that.”

“You’re damn right they wouldn’t. It would be everyone for themselves; but that’s not what always happens on flight disasters, with many heroic examples of bravery from members of the cabin crew, I’ve come across so many.
And that’s not all.”

“We don’t have to talk about this any more. That’s a hell of a dress that you’re wearing.”

“Would you like to go somewhere else to talk? There is a room out back which is much quieter for us, and would give us more privacy. I can go there with you if you like, and we can continue the conversation.”

They went into another room that was even more luxurious than where they had been before. There were gilt tables with decorated wine glasses on them and pictures of celebrities who had flown in the plane before him.

“Would you like to hear some music?”

He thought it seemed like a good idea. He had never been on a plane when they were playing music and he thought it seemed such a good plan.

“What are you going to play me? Something ambient like “Little fluffy clouds?” Or music for airports?”

“Who is that by? Brian Eno? I don’t think I know that one.”

“Whenever I’m flying, I always imagine something very ethereal and almost ghostly like Enya or something very solemn and funereal.”

“Ghostly? Hmm, I think I know what you’re getting at. But we don’t like our passengers to be led down such a path where they could be depressed, or think about the supernatural.”

She went over to the music system and pulled out one of the discs.

 As soon as he heard the opening bars, he identified the music.

“A little Night music?”

“Yes. Very well known but it adds something when you hear it on a plane.”

Indeed, it sounded so light; the strings were pulling him higher in the air.

“Do you want to know something about the other passengers?”

Like what exactly?

“Haven’t you noticed anything a little unusual about them?

“They look like typical business passengers.” And it was true, they did.

“What if I said that they are in fact all aliens, travelling back to their own planet after a long time abroad.”

“I’d say that you were crazy. I would never believe you in fact.”

She laughed.

“yes, I knew you wouldn’t believe it, because they look so normal. That’s why we chose them. They blend in perfectly, don’t they? Nobody would ever know.”

What am I doing here? Am I the only human here?”

“No of course not. There are all of the other attendants. As well as me.”

He looked at her carefully.

“That’s a relief.”


“So what happens now? Does the plane travel far? Couldn’t that take a very long time?”

“Do you want to go back home, is that it?”

“Eventually, sure.”

“You can leave any time you want. Just open one of the doors.”

He looked around himself. There’s no way I’d make it alive, he thought to himself.

“So are you going to stay on the plane after all?”

“It’s not so bad. I can get all the food I need here. And the in-flight entertainment that you provide leaves little to be desired.”

“You’re ok about the aliens?”

“They just look like normal passengers.”

“Yes, they’re really harmless. Like good-natured tourists.”

“Well, most of them are. We haven’t had any problems so far. We try to give them what they want, that way everyone’s happy.”

The plane kept on going. The alien’s home planet was thousands of light years away and it was months until they landed. As it happens, he’s still on the plane, somewhere, someplace, some time.

Leftover women

China is in the news for many reasons. There is the on-going trade war with the United States….. The persecution of the Uighur minority. The country continues its dizzying rise to modernity, with cities being completely redesigned in a few years.

One interesting social phenomenon that has recently been documented is the rise of the ‘leftover woman,’ (Sheng nu). This derogatory phrase refers to a woman over 26 (or thereabouts), who is not married or in a relationship. From the point of view of the labeller, its not a positive term, and it’s unlikely that any woman would want to refer herself as such. Nevertheless, with more and more young women in China choosing to delay or in some cases avoid marriage completely, many young women are so scared of being given the classification that they are doing whatever they can to find a husband.

Marriage markets are popping up in towns across the country. Here, parents display photographs and mini biographies of their daughters in the hope of attracting potential partners. And on dates, where women are trained to act as demurely as possible, they are advised to not assert themselves in any way or mention their careers.

A weekly marriage market in Shanghai

Who might be considered ‘leftover’?

In theory, any woman above a certain age without prospects could be considered a leftover woman. However, it’s typically used to denigrate women who choose to ignore Chinese culture and tradition that says they should marry and start a family as soon as possible.

Any woman over 26 faces great social and familial pressure to look for a husband.

What are the reasons for the leftover women?

China’s growing middle class are increasingly well-educated; often much more so than their parents. They study more, often overseas. The one-child policy introduced in 1980, meant that women born in this period are considered by the older generation to be the most spoiled in history. Yet they are also perhaps the most fortunate, being born at a time of greater prosperity and fortune than their parents and grandparents. Women who grew up without siblings (even though parents typically preferred a son) had more of their parent’s attention and were able to enjoy a better education going further than what would normally be available to women in families with sons. As a result, many of today’s young women are focusing on their careers, choosing to provide for themselves and get ahead.

Lack of suitors

The men in China are sometimes unfairly depicted in American cinema as unreliable, addicted to gambling and alcohol. Whether this is the reality, there must be a reason why Chinese women are choosing not to marry. Whilst 28 is hardly considered old for women in Western countries, it’s different in China. Many men want somebody younger than them, which explains why so many Chinese women are marrying abroad. It is also worth noting that women are often so much more educated that men cannot accept the prospect of being married to someone more successful than they are.

“Leftover women” seems to be a handy term to describe a problem that isn’t really a problem at all. The emergence of women with greater economic independence and education is of great advantage to China, especially when women become successful internationally. The population of China has stayed steady and  -even though the one-child policy has been rescinded – families are having smaller families anyway, reducing the poverty and the starvation of the Cultural Revolution.

Women

With 15 million more men than women in China, there are is a shortage of brides. It’s strange that it’s the men who are often being left behind, – by a rapidly modern society – but women are the ones being labelled as ‘leftover’.

Hint of misogyny?

To some, the term “leftover woman” is an attempt to stigmata a certain segment of women who are using more freedom that is now available to them, exactly the freedom that men have always had available to them as a matter of course. And more to the point, people aren’t happy that women are no longer happy to just stay at home and look after children. At the heart of the issue is there are women in China, a country considered at the other side of the world geographically and politically, who are closer to women in the west than those in small villages only a few hundred miles away.

New experiences in Japan

I stayed in large countryside home with traditional shoji paper screens. For contrast, I also slept in a one-room studio apartment in a suburb of Tokyo. Somehow I managed my 20-kilo bag inside Ryo’s place, using his bed whilst he slept on the floor. All this is to say that while it might not be common to be invited to people’s houses as a tourist, if you make the effort, it will happen.

It was when I was on the local train for Imabari that I met an orange farmer who wanted me to visit her farm. At first I was doubtful, but decided it was worth making a small diversion. In fact, it was one of the best experiences of my journey. The house was traditional country style with the sliding doors I had seen in films such as the iconic ‘Love Letter’ and Unimachi Diary. There were so many interesting things about the house. For a start, the rooms were filled with furniture and captivating objects.

There were things everywhere, in a comfortable rather than cluttered way that reflected the eclectic taste of the owner, a slightly eccentric woman who has lived in the house since childhood. It was so spacious and comfortable that I didn’t want to leave. And the oranges which grew on the farm were some of the best that I tasted. It didn’t hurt that the owner had a fridge full of delicacies that she was happy to share.

The interior of a countryside home in Japan. The sliding doors are a lovely feature.

The hotel industry offers a wide choice. At the bottom are guesthouses, or hostels. Sometimes they were quite adequate, with reasonable facilities such as a wide TV in the living area and decent cooking equipment. On the other hand, some were so dingy, dirty and crowded, I wished I had slept outside. There are simply too many visitors in Japan, many on such a low budget, and the basic hostels aren’t able to cater for them properly. The problem is the differing needs of backpackers who use these places to meet their friends, and businessmen who stay at them when they are on the road. If you’re Japanese tourist, you probably won’t really mix with the other guests for fear of making them feel obligated to you. In fact, that was the most notable difference between Japanese, and travellers from other countries, whether they would mix or not with strangers. It was most pronounced in the communal areas, where Japanese students would bury themselves in their phones, whilst others would be eagerly mixing, sharing food and other things, as well as comparing their experiences.

It was at the breakfast area that things became most awkward. With up to thirty people wanting to eat at roughly the same time, it was everything it took everything in their power to feed everyone. With only two toasters with slots to cook 2 slices at a time, it became rather a long wait for a piece of toast. Here the conundrum is do you cook 2 slices at once, thereby hogging the toaster to yourself depriving others of the right to use it, or simply toast two slices and offer one of them to someone else, then going back when you have finished it for another slice, because you can’t keep toast hot very long anyway. I never found a good enough solution. The fairest way would be to have a toast monitor, someone continually refilling the toaster so that the toast was always on hand? But then, I observed that some people would adjust the toaster so that it cooked their bread for longer or shorter, and in my case, I often got tired of standing in front of the toaster (I don’t know why I felt I had to do this) so that I sometimes pulled it out early before the toast was ready. Others just waited, up to two minutes, with their plate in hand. They wasted a lot of time like that, but seemed to enjoy it. If someone else’s toast popped up, they left it sticking out of the toaster. That was annoying too, but perhaps they didn’t want to handle it too much.

Another thing was the choice of jam was limited to blueberry, strawberry and marmalade. I didn’t want to leave any out so I had to put a teaspoonful of each jam on my plate. I hardly used much, and I was surprised the amount others used. It was the cheap bulk jam. The best bread and jam I had was at the Maharashi temple in Onnomichi. It was there, on arrival, that I discovered I had lost my passport.  Onnomichi is a small city along the coast not far from Matsuyama. I didn’t do much there. I had been recommended to visit the Kendama rock café, despite what it said online; it was stubbornly closed on both Saturdays I attempted to visit. 

Still, the kitchen offered free tea and coffee. It was powdered coffee, but I did drink it anyway. The problem this time was waiting for the water to boil. Kettles in hotels are usually so old that can take nearly 5 minutes to boil. When they are full the problem is far worse, and meant that there was always a line.

I think there have been too many jokes about kettles with short flexes. Anyway, it’s probably a safety measure anyway. I’m more disappointed by the lack of bathroom shower gel miniatures. When you are travelling across the country, these are highly useful. Yet many of the hotels I stayed in offered some facial cleansers and toners. What I wanted was shampoo, but this was in the bathroom in large dispensers fixed to the wall. I suppose they are saving costs. I didn’t take any thing from the fridge; there was nothing there anyway. Sometimes they gave me an actual key. This was the case of the International in Nagoya. It was mildly inconvenient. On the other hand, it was nice to be reminded of the past, when people carried keys to open doors. It made a nice weight in my pocket too. That hotel had gleaming gold buttons in the lift, more retro touches. There were newspapers in the lobby for sale and cabinets of ceramics. Perhaps because I booked late I was on the eighth floor. I wonder if there can be any choice in floor level when booking?

The hotels offered a level of courtesy that was often superfluous to the hotel’s price. Bowing was common and many times I was given polite assistance to my enquiries. I tried not to be a pest but sometimes I enjoyed walking through the hotel lobby late at night. I wanted to see who was around. Sometimes prostitutes hang around outside hotels, but I couldn’t see any. It was only in the convenience in Nagoya that I met a lady I who I’m sure was a hostess. Just from the way she was dressed and her manner. But you can never guarantee these things. 

Not only is the marriage rate among young people falling, the divorce rate is rising. To make things more complicated, the cases of remarriage is on the increase, with people going into second or third marriages, having children again and living with second or third partners, or having children extra-maritally.

What other social trends are on the rise? I saw a greater amount of tattoos on young people this time. And some anti-social behaviour, such as bad language and spitting that was somewhat disappointing to see. Smoking is still accepted in most places, but is carefully controlled in specially designated smoking areas. On the Shinkansen, there are standing capsules with a sliding door to access them.  Only in the very expensive green cars is it possible to smoke in your seat. The trains are fast and clean and they connect all the big cities but the luxury might not be as much as you would expect. Most of the tables are no bigger than the trays you have on airline and there is not much room for big cases. Tellingly, the JR pass that allows foreigners the option to use the trains for 7, 14, or 21 days, does not give access to the faster services, conveniently reserving these services for the Japanese almost 100%. When I took the faster service from Osaka to Tokyo, I was clearly the only foreigner on board, while on the far slower stopping service, I had to jostle through backpackers and families with crying babies. The food cart cheerfully pushed through the carriages (I didn’t buy anything – too expensive), whilst most platforms dished out bento boxes. People queued up at the stations to reserve seats, while in the unreserved cars it was often standing room only.

A cheap bento box, bought at Osaka station. I thought the Shinkansen would be out of this world, but it was sadly very ordinary.

Wherever I went, people seemed to be on the move somewhere, even before the big cherry blossom season. Restaurants were full and the only time I didn’t have to wait was in the fast food burger places and cafes. There are now foreign workers from Vietnam and Nepal in many restaurants. The government is currently making plans for 40,000 temporary foreign workers, never mind what it will do to Japanese society. Even though it wasn’t what I wanted, I underwent the charade of speaking Japanese with them. At the best restaurants, the staff were always 100% Japanese – these were far the best. Not only was the service better, the experience seemed to be that much better for being in Japanese. It’s convenient to be a solo diner as most restaurants offer counter service.

Women go to work dressed in high heels and dresses far more demure than anywhere else I have seen, making the Tokyo metro a perfumed paradise for the voyeur. There are hostess bars in all the big cities, offering services by the hour. There are plenty of opportunities for dating; you just have to look around. In fact, there seemed to be women everywhere just waiting to be approached, ready to be swept away by anyone who dared to try. At night-time things became more sexual, with dozens of girls bars and women standing outside soliciting passers by inside.  There is some controversy as to what these venues provide. With prices as high as 5,000 yen, it’s hard to imagine they are just for talking. It may be that the charge covers the cost of drinks, but not sure. On numerous occasions softly spoken elder women who were trying to offer me various services, which I reluctantly declined, however much I wanted to partake, approached me.

The cost of living in Japan is high for Asia, but not exorbitant, you can get around easily for 50 dollars if you eat simply. It was travel and accommodation that put the biggest hole in my budget, and with just a few hundred extra pounds I could have done even better.

Some of the things I did seemed to be overpriced, such as paying to enter castles and gardens (where they would be free in London). It was something I did grudgingly; whilst it was great to be able to access free toilets everywhere. Hotels were reasonable considering the services provided. I made a point of accessing the free breakfast at the Nest Hotel in Matsuyama and it was excellent, but I could only eat half of it. Sometimes the beds in these place were uncomfortably hard, in others they were more luxurious. Probably the most disappointing hotel I stayed in was a branch of Toyoko Inn around Nagoya station. For some reason the hotel chain has become one of the biggest in Japan (there are some in Korea too) for providing reasonable rates and a free breakfast. Unfortunately, almost everything about the hotel was second rate. I found out there were limits of tolerance to my bad habits. I was told that I wasn’t able to have breakfast in my dressing room, despite being the only guest at the time.

I enjoyed Mystays Premier Hotel, a new range of business hotels. The hotel near Narita was extremely comfortable, with a pool and spa. It even had a 24-hour convenience store on the first floor. My budget forced me to stay in several hostels. They were like echo chambers for germs, with nasty coughing and sneezing preventing anyone from ever sleeping properly.

Sadly, many hostels are simply dingy, crowded and full of anti-social people uninterested in each other.

My most Japanese experience was at the site of First Airlines in Ikebukuro. Everything I had heard about the world’s first virtual airline made me convinced that I would love it and it proved to be so. From the entrance where they used ambient airport sounds and used monitors to show where the plane was heading, it was an immersive piece of conceptual theater up there with Punchdrunk. I ‘flew’ to Paris, having been unable to secure some of the other options Helsinki and New York.

The check-in desk at First Airlines.

Every new place I went had different candy that I saw in the food halls of the department stores. I lost track of most of it. Many were a kind of sweet bean filled bun known as mango that was pressed into a particular shape. In the Island of Miyajima they were maple leaf shaped. Sweets from Hokkaido were made using butter. Nagano offered highly unusual apple rice crackers – the first time I had seen anything like that.

Japan has the most impressive range of snacks of any country I have visited.

Some of the best food I had was in unlikely places. The cookies from the Aunt Stella shops were superb: buttery and crispy and with some creative flavours, I found branches outside Nagano and Matsuyama stations, the latter is most charming, with waitresses wearing headbands and blue aprons. Really what you find is that every place has a speciality, one thing that they are good at if a shop sells cookies, they aren’t going to be messing around making brownies as well. You can find English bars, or very good attempts at trying to imitate them as much as possible. The idea of being able to drink freely without partaking of food is so radical that many go there just for the novelty of it. There are bars where you only have room to stand. Then there are those bars targeting an exclusive male audience – known as ‘Girls Bar’, they charge a cover fee, and are staffed by attractive young women wearing various stimulating outfits. The one I visited was open early, and I was fortunate to be the only customer there. You pay per half hour, and they give you an electric timer showing how much time you have left.  It’s not really sexy; it’s more about some female attention. Of course, you could go to any normal bar and try to get female attention, but there’s a possibility you would be bothering someone. Paying for this service seems to be part of the appeal, but the idea of forking up money for nothing but chat put me off going for a repeat visit. 

The famous Aunt Stella’s outside Matsuyam JR station.

Numerous people have thought that Japan’s sexualisation of young women is a sign of something wrong with Japanese society. But on the other hand, it’s a way for these young women to make some decent money while they are studying. And what the hell is wrong with that? Many men would do the same if only they had the chance.

The more time I spent in Japan, the more I felt that it was like a perfect society where everyone has their role and knew how to perform it expertly. People often like to point out that Japan is a land of contrasts – young and old, ancient and modern. But then, when you go there, these things are not so much contrasts as part of one big palette.

Observations of Japan. March 2019

Every trip I make to Japan I start to see new things that I hadn’t really thought about before. For example, the level of politeness. I always knew that Japanese have a sense of courtesy to others that is at a higher level to other Asian countries. But the extent to which they use politeness can make life less easy when it comes to practicalities. For example, it’s quite hard to express strong disappointment or to say something negative here. (I know that it’s not common to complain about bad food or service). For example, I noticed when I was in the Izakaya that they added a 500 yen cover charge to my order. And because I had drunk alcohol, I think they added another tax. This was on top of the 8% service charge that I had already been charged. So the final bill was a good 1,000 yen dearer than I had expected. Of course, I really wasn’t happy about these stealth charges, but at the time it was easier to pay the total amount, rather than argue about it. Is this why there are so many extra charges in restaurants, because no one wants to speak up and complain? The fact is there are many restaurants which don’t engage in stealth charges, but you won’t know this until you receive the bill. Whilst Izakayas are no doubt the worst offenders, I have found myself paying well above the odds in many places. For example, at a maid cafe, where I expected to spend 500 on a coffee but was charged more than 1000. The dreaded cover charge, again. The frustrating thing is the money they charge like this does not have a possible reason for being there except as a way to wring as much money out of the customer as possible.

Again, when I was checking in to my hotel, I found that I could not get the wi-fi working. This could have been a really simple problem, but it was exacerbated by the fact that the receptionist was completely unwilling to acknowledge the fact that I was unhappy about the situation. In fact, when I attempted to talk with the manager, she attempted to deflect this by telling me that she didn’t understand English. I’m beginning to wonder if anyone actually says what they think when there is a problem?

Then when I was waiting for my JR rail pass, it was at least an hour’s week to get it printed. And by the time I had joined a separate queue to enquire about a booking, I was told, rather incoherently, that a tree had fallen on the line and there were no trains. This was actually sorted out and I was eventually able to take a later train that got me to my destination at the exact time I needed to, after waiting uncertainly for two hours. Another point is the issue of reserving a seat for a train journey. Of course, there is nothing wrong with sitting on an assigned seat, but if half of the seats are usually empty, is there really a need for having allocated seating? Especially when people board and get off the train at different times anyway, so the whole idea of having reserved seats seems a bit pointless.

The other funny thing that I’ve seen happen is bill sharing. Actually I don’t really mind this one, but it’s interesting to see that even on occasions where it might be sensible for one person to pay the bill, it’s still split evenly based on who ordered what.

All this is to say that I really do love Japan a lot, I really do. But there are times when it can be difficult to understand the reason why things have to be the way they are.