I think it's fair to say that I haven't had the best impression of Japanese men since arriving here, which is possibly not fair on the male population as a whole - after all, there are almost 9 and a half million of them - but at least I can say I've seen a few men doing things that I haven't seen at home. This thought is fresh in my mind because I have just arrived home, at 6pm, from the local convenience store where there were three middle-aged men in suits lined up browsing, shall we say, magazines aimed at their gender. Well, I did go in for milk, something for dinner and a glimpse of some topless Asian women myself. Unfortunately it appears that even Japan isn't safe from the economic crisis - the poor chaps couldn't scrape together the yen to buy themselves a copy, they just had to stand and look at all of them right there in the shop.
On another evening, I went to the centre with some other teachers to have dinner and there was a performance on the street by some school girls, possibly 13 or 14 year olds, singing a pretty brutal pop song in their school uniforms (think pre-mental Britney) and hopping around in unison. It was all very sweet and Japanese. Turn your eyes to the onlookers, possibly 70 people gathered around to cheer them on, and could we count a single female? Not a one. All middle aged to plain old men smiling and watching. I'm not implying anything but it was statistically rather unusual.
These, along with the recent opening of a cuddle café in Tokyo, hint that there are some interesting man-folk around these parts. But of course, the vast majority who I pass walking down the street are normal mind-your-own-business kind of lads. I feel perfectly safe (nothing to do with the fact that I'm half a foot taller and wider than the average male around here) and while all the above is a little bit pervy, it's perviness on a very polite, smiling, typically Japanese level.
Part of me feels sorry for Japanese men. Guys swoop in from America or the UK or wherever and could probably have any girl they wanted here, having not even been able to get a phone number back home. You start to see it everywhere here - Western man, complete with beautiful Japanese girl on his arm. The male English teachers at my university have girls literally queuing up outside the office - a slightly ginger one is particularly successful because they think he looks like 'Lon' from Harry Potter.
It's much more unusual to see a foreign girl with a Japanese man, though it does happen. But you have to feel pity - the Japanese girls prefer other nationalities, the foreign girls stick to their own.. Maybe all there is to do is go and stand in the 7-Eleven and look at some dirty magazines. Down the cuddle caff you pay 1,000 yen to watch some bird change clothes - in the shop in broad daylight, it's free!