Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Racism in Kyoto's Red Light District

Having obliterated the rappers of Kyoto in our rap battle, I head out to explore more of the city’s nightlife. I come to what appears to be the red light district. The Japanese are famous for their nose to the grindstone work ethic, countered by a polar swing to hedonistic drunken debauchery, so I thought it would make an excellent investigation for all of you out there in Readerville. (honest Mom!)
Japanese brothel- outside 

Looking up at the photos of scantily clad Asian women laying on their sides, looking lasciviously back at me, I approach the door where a large (by the standards of Japan) man stands in my way. He crosses his wrists over one in an X, his fists pointing at the sky, and speaks to me in Japanese. I pretend not to understand.
“Just want to take a look,” I respond, trying to sneak around him. Again, he X’s me out, his voice more stern.
“You don’t understand, I’m American,” I explain, with the firm belief that such diplomacy and name dropping will gain me immediate entry. A third X in the frame, I have struck out, yet I walk away feeling giddy. “Wow, this is so cool, I just experienced racism!” I remark to myself.
I walk to the next X-rated boutique and receive the same treatment. Suddenly racism isn’t as enjoyable, though I still find it humorous.
I venture to restaurant row, finding an American sipping on on a Sapporo beer, Tim, to whom I relate my tale of woe. He explains that foreigners are considered unclean, and should it become known that they are being allowed in, the locals would quickly steer clear of the establishment.
“Yeah, we said the same thing about allowing blacks into Southern diners in the 1950's,” I remark ruefully, “The world still has a long way to go.”
He laughs, “I’m not sure if it’s the same as letting you into their women,” he retorts.

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