Midori was born and brought up in Japan before moving to the US as a teenager. Consequently, she uses her dual heritage to straddle the two cultures, and often finds herself explaining to either nation the other’s sexual predilections.
Having visited Japan earlier this year myself to report on Tokyo Rainbow Pride, I was relieved to have my base deductions on Japanese shame vs Western Judeao-Christian guilt confirmed by our tour guide and teacher. In a nutshell, the only sexual taboo in Japan is the open discussion or display of ones sexual preferences or predilections, a ‘do but don’t tell’ approach. By contrast, in the West, ‘tell but don’t do’ seems to be the prevailing ethos.
Midori’s thorough practical guide to using a love hotel has definitely inspired me for my next trip Napori-side. Her sneakily snapped photos detailed the decor and dildo-vending machines better than a Lonely Planet could have managed. Also revealing was her explanation of teen boys’ ‘relationships’ with full-body manga cartoon-embossed pillows, attributed to the inordinate pressure on teenagers to study for most hours of the day. ‘2-D love’, as it is known, is your only option when there’s no time to be socialised as a mature sexual being.
But the most personally pertinent revelation of the evening? That tentacle porn, dating back to the Edo period and something I have long been morbidly fascinated with but always slightly squeamish about, is not as sinister as first appears to my myopic Western eye. Admittedly, my tentacle terror began when I started to eat octopus on a regular basis during my relationship with ‘Christos’ (see my book ‘Bound To You’ for elaboration).
In Japanese culture, however the octopus is a comic character, the ‘dirty old man of the sea’, as Midori so deftly put it. So getting tentacle-groped is basically like having a poly-podded Uncle at a festive family reunion prod you. I don’t have any such uncles. So maybe it’s time to revisit those lurid woodcuts. Midori, I’ll have you to thank you for the ensuing fantasies – or nightmares…