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Spooky Action At A Distance

Ethnic Narcissism and Infertility in Japan

By Tom Bradley

My solitude grew more and more obese, like a pig.
—Yukio Mishima

The real foundations of contemporary Japanese life are the achievements of the Aryan peoples.
—Mein Kampf

Hase Kannon 1967

I teach conversational skills to freshman dentistry majors in the Japanese "imperial university" where they used to vivisect our bomber pilots and serve their livers raw at festive banquets.

Ever since I first reluctantly mounted the bamboo podium, back in the days when this was the richest country in the world, my campus has been under occupation by platoons of boys who call themselves "cheerleaders." Seeming to grow like bunions out of the karate and judo teams, they’re too bristly to get laid, so they scream and march a lot, and flail their arms around. They’re seminarians of a sort, practicing to be full-blown Hirohito worshipers like those I saw officiating at the Feast of the Transfiguration in A-Bomb Park.

I can understand a few guys with halitosis, low-average IQ’s and overbearing personalities getting involved with this. Their American counterparts would be frat rats. But this is an entire army. At my place of employment they recruit underclassmen by literal arm-twisting, to the silence of the dean of students. I think he approves secretly of this return to militarism among the otherwise politically flaccid youth of Nippon.

The cheerleaders spend their time frenziedly rallied under giant rising-sun flags and blood-colored banners emblazoned with reversed and righted swastikas. To the accompaniment of a mammoth bass drum, which is beaten to death like an evil seductress, they march outside my classroom windows and chant jingoistic songs from the thirties and forties—or rather howl them, so loudly as to damage their throats. It always sounds as though several have grapefruit-sized nodules hemorrhaging on their voice boxes already, but still they never let up. In this fundamentally sadomasochistic sodality, tumors are an inducement to strain even harder. The impression is of an orgiastic sexuality, just barely sublimated.

Christ knows I’m not the best judge of this sort of thing, but it seems to me that these unhappy kids aren’t the only ones here who come down a bit off-center in the orgasm department. Or am I just belaboring the obvious? If all was erotically foursquare in this country, would there be such a thriving market for the flesh of anonymous sex slaves from the former member nations of General Tojo’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere? As it is, a whole gate at the Tokyo airport is devoted to offloading jumbo jets full of “foreign entertainers.” A certain amount of whoremongering is universal, of course. But, in Japan, matters pertaining to horniness and its alleviation get a lot more peculiar.

For example, there’s no such thing as a urinal without a full view of the user and his unit, through strategically placed doors or windows or both. And every tourist who stumbles off the beaten path has been subjected to their exclusively male exhibitionism: those bare-buttocked lunar festivals, which the inverted genius Yukio Mishima found so inspiring; and the naked scramble for the amulet in the local temple, with thousands of sleek young men howling lesions into their larynxes, under banners whose meticulous calligraphy reads, not KNOW THYSELF, but LOSE THYSELF.

I have a slightly homophobic, but lovable old colleague, a permanently exiled Brit, who recognizes certain parallels to a well-known ancient culture. Classical Greece, with its select corps of geisha-like hetaerae, also did not allow the majority of its women to become fully human for fear of their multi-orgasmic power. So the men were forced to rely on each other for stimulation, and shared their most intense moments naked in the gymnasium, with all the anality and, therefore, sadomasochism such a situation engenders. My grumpy old colleague rides this train of associations further, to the point of claiming that, "like all members of essentially homoerotic cultures," my honorable hosts are narcissists.

I am forced report that is true of the immigration officials, at least. They preen themselves on their racial purity, to the point of denying the sanctified privilege of permanent residency to such a splendid hominoid specimen as me. After nearly a decade and a half, I’m still on a one-year visa. Yet, if you steel yourself and look around in the omnipresent communal bathhouses, you will see legs almost as hairy as mine, and pubic bushes such as are simply not found on the Asian mainland. Except for the lovely golden-brown Filipinas, whom they find attractive enough to force wholesale into indentured prostitution, the Japanese are the extreme Orient’s most "miscegenated" people (to use the cheerleaders’ own pet term in translation—impermissible in polite Western society for at least three generations).

When the sun goes down, my furry little pupils repair to their reinforced-concrete dormitory and wrench from their throats an orgy of screaming. They’re supposedly rehearsing the venerable school song in preparation for a visitation of old and distinguished alumni. But it’s just formless retching, convulsive and inarticulate. It’s nightly throughout the first two weeks of each semester, this aberration, and lasts without respite till three in the morning, and takes the place of studying or talking or drinking or, certainly, anything most Occidentals would define as non-metaphorical sex. In the morning, the boys, fortified with caffeine and nicotine, always have square knots yanked in their vocal cords, suppurating thickly enough to preclude participation in my conversation class. The dean of students urges me to respect this, because all night they’ve been "doing their best and trying hard and displaying enthusiasm." When I ask, "Trying their best to accomplish what?" all I get is an inscrutably averted gaze.

As if this wasn’t enough (enough of what, for Christ’s sake?), the cheerleaders impose still other forms of domination and submission, of mindless austerities and chastisements. The thinner recruits are always shirtless as they tromp and stomp outside my classroom, and are forced to go barefoot, even in the dead of winter, because it tickles the sadistic glee of their revered ancestors in the spirit world to see their toes turn black with frostbite—or something approximately metaphysical like that. The upperclassmen are shod with traditional wooden platform sandals, the only footwear in the world more uncomfortable than bare feet, and they wrap themselves in strange, early Showa-period military uniforms of dark-blue wool, stifling on the bleakest November day.

They are nothing less than apprentice Shinto-fascists, well-scrubbed super-patriots, directly descended from the infant-eviscerating imperial troops whose antics brought a couple of atomic bombs crashing down on everybody’s head sixty years ago. If any of my colleagues or neighbors have made that ominous connection, they’re too polite to mention it.

Sometimes the boys seem to be auditioning for their elders. A journeyman rightist will trot and waddle on Jiminy Cricket legs alongside them, holding up a decibel meter and shaking his head in critical disgust at the cheerleaders’ paltry vocal performance (just paltry enough to neutralize my lecture through the window). The full-fledged master maniacs discreetly follow in their city block-long sound truck, which is occasionally draped with a squinty-eyed, bunny-toothed, Hitler-mustachioed portrait of the dead emperor—though their more mainstream counterparts in sophisticated places like Tokyo and Osaka consider this public flaunting and flapping of God’s image to be gross sacrilege.

Two of the lower-ranked cheerleaders will struggle to keep aloft a vast banner. Strung on bamboo poles fifteen feet high, clearly visible from my vantage point at the professorial pulpit, it howls some such measured lyrical strain as follows:

BIG-NOSES OUT!

MISCEGENATION FOR AMERICA, PURITY FOR DAI NIPPON!

HAIR GROWS ON DOGS’ LEGS, NOT PEOPLE’S!

DAI NIPPON IS A TINY RICE PADDY, AMERICA A TREELESS PEAK:

FLOOD CONTROL IS PARAMOUNT!

A MYRIAD OF YEARS! A MYRIAD OF YEARS! A MYRIAD OF YEARS!

They always climax with a bit of wisdom received directly from the loose lips of the current prime minister—

WE ARE A DIVINE NATION WITH THE EMPEROR AT OUR CENTER!

The poets who paint and sing and shove these lines in my face never meet any difficulty penetrating the university’s front gate. The old porter genuflects them in, bowing so deeply that his brow ridge audibly bops the rim of the open sewer which moats the place where I’ve been condemned to waste my remaining days. To uninitiated eyes, the rightists appear to be little more than lecture-disrupting noodle-Nazis. But they are treated with all the fear and deference due to a sacerdotal caste—which, of course, is exactly what they are: celebrants of an autophagous Eucharist.

Hase Kannon 1967