|Japan Reading: For Men With Yen|
For Men With Yen
by Alan Rosenberg & W.J. O'Neill
The Wayward Press, Tokyo
1962, 156 pages
If only I had read this before I plunged into the Bunnie's Club I might have known better:
"There also are the bars and cabarets that simply do not care to cater to foreigners. Often they have their own clientele, and maintain a clublike atmostphere that excludes even Japanese who do not belong to the coterie. Unless you have a Japanese friend who wants to take you to 'his' bar or club and introduce you to the manager, you are wiser to pass these places by." (page 30)For a book with such lively illustrations and a lascivious purview, it is strikingly sober and straightfoward. This is not a book about exploitation, rather it is a practical guide to a business that arose out of Japanese tradition, postwar economics and human longings. I read this immediately after Karen Ma's Modern Madame Butterfly and I expected to be repelled. I expected to see the seeds of subservience planted herein - that these authors would be touting the Japanese lady as a ready conquest, full of rare pleasures to offer straightforwardly to her man.
Acutally, these men and Ma might agree on one thing - the economic nature of many of these relationships. While Ma sees a better world of cultural understanding that would bridge the gap left by material misperception, these men write during a more immediately post-World War II era when Japan was still busy rebuilding and fighting for staples in life. These women in "For Men With Yen" are not subservient, nor or are they completely scheming. They are women who are working in the Japanese tradition of the performing hostess (Geisha), with less training and more proliferation. They are making money, and they are subject to their own whimsey. They are remarkably human characters in this book, considering that I have been lead to believe that many of the early foreign men in Japan were heedlessly libidinous conquerors. Maybe these men were taking advantage of economic disadvantage to be flattered and get laid. They explain themselves by explaining the economy in which they participated. That economy is still very active today, except there are more Ukrainian girls involved now.
Links (December 2001)