Story of Miu 7

Suddenly, strangely, Miu feels power turn on like a tungsten flame inside her _ maybe that hot spot in between her breasts. And her breath turns a bit quicker, warmer.
As a young Asian female, she never feels power anywhere else _ at high school, at shopping malls, at summer jobs, even at home, she has long grown used to her role that is not to challenge but to accept and approve.
But in that dingy darkness of that Tokyo club, she _ and others like her _ have truer deeper powers.
The heads turn, their eyes shiny like those of hungry animals in a cave sniffing for prey.
She knows all she has to do is return that look to have them do whatever she wants _ get off their chairs in a scamper, rushing to her at her beck and call: “Hi, are you alone?” “What’s your name?” “Do you want a drink?”
It is merely up to her whim to choose which of those young men will be that lucky one.
She doesn’t want the easy ones. She doesn’t want the obviously handsome ones.
Being so easy and so obvious, such a catch does not speak to the heights of her powers.
That’s not the kind of entertainment she is looking for on this night out on the town with her girlfriends _ her shoulder-length hair neatly rolled like Cinderella’s, her skinny legs showing flesh, stockingless, beneath her short patent-black boots, her clutch bag covered with Swarovski crystals.
The man must be worthy of all this work and investment and taste, she thinks, laughing to herself.
And the man, naturally, must have that undiscovered look.
Shy, quiet and impeccably innocent, downcast eyes hiding under soft bangs, he doesn’t know how beautiful or how bestial he can be, until he meets her, she muses.
She doesn’t have any specific characteristic in mind _ he doesn’t have to be tall, dark, smart, rich _ he can be anything and everything as long as he has that something special that makes her feel powerful not only over him but over everyone else who has looked down upon her for being Asian, young and female and has forgotten to credit her with the intelligence, insight and passion of choosing how to live life.
He must look at her as his all in that moment when they exchange glances and he approaches her and they dance, moving their hips in time to that deafening beat, and he must believe, as she does, that they have known each other from the beginning of time.
Which one is that special man? She scans the scene, taking her time, going from one dirty room to another, balancing herself carefully on the spiral metallic staircase on golden stiletto heels.
When she sees him, it can’t be more definite or fatalistic.
She walks up to him, standing, looking bored, so undistinguished and so plain and so unknowing by the giant speakers blasting with noise, so one-way is this selection, hers and not his.
He may even be there, waiting for his girlfriend, or he is drinking away his disappointment because his girlfriend has chosen to go somewhere else, or luckier still, he has just broken up and isn’t quite ready to look for someone new.
This is important: That she picks him, not the other way around.
She reaches up to his neck, pulls his face down gently, as though she needs to whisper an urgent question.
He accommodates, not too eager, just because he is trying to be nice to someone who may have a question, and as he faces her, she puts her mouth to his, forcing her tongue through his cold lips, and their tongues merge as one in the best kept secret in that club, that night, that city, that universe.
Her mind goes blank. And all she sees is that soft black one-ness inside her head, swirling, and she feels happy as though the games people play and the question of who is powerful no longer matter.

Continued from Story of Miu 6.

Letter from Miu (Story of Miu 5)

I got a letter from Miu:

Just dropping a note to tell you about my first ever outing to Shinjuku’s Sanchome district.
I was out with a couple friends for midnight mugs of beer at a tiny dingy cafe bar that spilled out into the alleys, dotted by sex-toy shops and gay bars, lonely souls occupying their time between yesterday and tomorrow _ one of those rare places in ethnocentric Tokyo where status/national origin/even sexuality go out the window.
Or so you’d like to think.
Then suddenly this Japanese guy comes up to me: “Are you with somebody?”
His next question: “Are you looking for gaijin?”
That bar, like others in that scene and Roppongi, attracts a fair share of foreigners.
I’d never forget that look in his eyes _ so afraid, so pathetic, so sad.
It was a totally depressing end to the evening.
What happened to this nation with its supposed reputation for right-wing conservative stuck up glorification of Japanese-ness!?
It’s like reliving colonialism.
You read about how Japanese women are staying single because they earn their own livelihood and don’t find the marrying lifestyle particularly attractive.
But my question is: Do they find the Japanese male attractive?
It would be a total lie to deny this phenomenon _ hordes of Japanese women who thrive on relationships with foreigners, seek them out at bars, hang from their arms, modern-day Suzy Wongs, and worship the foreigner, even unattractive ones, for their foreign-ness!
There’s a sexual crisis of some sort going on between the Japanese male and the Japanese female.
They don’t find the physical traits, mannerisms, social connotations from their own peers erotically arousing.
They find the alien intriguing.
Maybe exoticism is sexy by definition. But isn’t that just a fetish, and certainly not a way to a healthy romantic relationship?

My reply to Miu:
How can you blame the Japanese female for seeking Western-style liberalism in attitudes toward women?
And how can you blame the Japanese female for their definitions of sexual beauty and sexual relationships when they have been fed Hollywood from birth?
And how can you blame the Japanese female for seeking personal partners outside Japanese society, when so many are doing so already with their careers (practically forced to do so, given sexism at major Japanese companies)?
But I see your point.
It is unfortunate how their personal lives fit like a jigsaw puzzle into the larger oppressive landscape of race/sex/class.
When Black Power rose in the 1960s, part of that was an awakening by the people to face up to that to overcome those larger social forces in their personal lives _ by redefining beauty, sexuality, love.
But cooking for/sleeping with/kissing XXX for the Male Master simply don’t get fixed by switching His Color.
Staying within one’s Color certainly simplifies the dilemma by at least knocking off one possible horrible fetish one has to confront in a sexual relationship.
But that’s about it.
Just curious, but what happened in the end with that Japanese guy in Sanchome?
Stay well,

Continued from Story of Miu 4.

Story of Miu 4: Bon Odori _ Japan’s answer to the Dance Party

Japanese summers are never complete without Bon Odori, the neighborhood thanksgiving celebration of the harvest, the annual homecoming of ancestral ghosts, the end of summer.
The dress code: cotton yukata kimonos in white, indigo and goldfish red, splashed with bold patterns of flowers, bursting fireworks, waves of water. Wooden clogs or woven straw slippers on the feet. Big uchiwa fans, the kind that don’t fold out gracefully, upper-class, but just stay flat (also with bold patterns) to get flapped around to swat mosquitoes and cool off in the evening breeze.
The smell in the air: Grilled noodles, pancakes and octopus dumplings topped with seaweed and dried fish, peddled at stalls set up like tents, which also sell manga-character masks, goldfish, shaved ice, bobbing balloon yo-yos, chocolate-covered bananas on sticks.
The sound: Deep intestine-curdling thumps of a taiko drum from a stage that’s set up _ just for the weekend.
The drum plays in time to funky songs. Some are minyo folk tunes, but others are pop concoctions, like Tokyo Ondo, which has become the rallying theme song for the Yakult Swallows, and children’s songs like Anpanman or Obakyu Bon Odori.
The drummers play loud and strong.
They strike poses, fling their arms, twirling and throwing their sticks, staccato out rhythms, swinging with the beat.
The dancing goes in a circle around the stage, repetitions of steps, arm moves and turns that don’t require acrobatic skills to execute (although the instructors on stage _ you can pick them out because they wear the same white and blue yukata _ do every move with a certain elegant nuance you can’t imitate without taking real lessons.)
Maybe there are only five, six choreography patterns you have to get in your head, but each song is a little different and so it’s harder than you think.
Most of the time you end up looking totally ridiculous.
Never mind _ the point isn’t about showing off.
The point is about getting down and having fun and doing the best you can.
And knowing another summer is over.
“Oh, this is so much fun,” said Miu, who had never been to a real Bon Odori before, wiping sweat she’s worked up from dancing. “There is something about this place that’s movie-like. It’s surreal.”
Something about those lanterns hung from the poles and around the makeshift stage bouncing in time with the embryonic heartbeat booms of the drum surround that place where we are gathered in a soft, strange glow _ reminding us of both our cosmic isolation and the terrible death that is so always there but telling us all this in a warm, comforting way, like a grandmother telling us a story: It’s going to be OK; there is nothing to be afraid of.
The way I explained it to Miu is that when the moment comes for me to die, and flashes of images like a multicultural slide show play in my mind in a lazy dozing off of death, somehow, I know Bon Odori will be one of those scenes.
My son was just 6 when he played drums with the other children at his first Bon Odori. He was barely bigger than the drum, challenging the drum, until blisters tore his fingers.
He is 25 this year.
It’s not hard to understand why Japanese believe ancestral ghosts come home for Bon.

Story of Miu 3.