Kiss our Yakuza butts!
Japan is not really a law-abiding country. It seems to be on the surface, but not far into the hidden culture the real truth emerges.
Where else in the world would you see a middle-aged guy with suit and tie, commuting home while reading a kiddie porn comic? In what subway in the world besides in Japan would you see a male commuter caressing a woman's bottom and rubbing his leg against her? THEN AT A FOLLOWING STATION ONE OF THEM WILL DEPART WITHOUT A GLANCE OR A WORD TOWARDS THE OTHER PERSON?
WHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD WILL A TEENAGE GIRL IN SCHOOL UNIFORM APPROACH YOU AND SUGGESTS YOU BOTH GO TO A"LOVE HOTEL?"
That happened to me and I asked how old was the girl. "Eighteen" she said." Sorry" I replied "I have no money to spare"
"That all right Sir, I pay for hoteru.. I just want the "explerience" with a foreigner. If he good in bed or washout!!!"
I used to teach English in Japan, travelling from my house in the Philippines and spending at least three months and sometimes six in Japan .When I was sixty years old I flew to Tokyo and went the rounds of language schools where I usually landed a job but only met with refusals, to my chagrin. It seemed that the law had changed and now language institutes, which gave casual jobs to foreigners could be fined heavily. As well, my age now precluded me from getting any health coverage......My money was running out in expensive Tokyo even though I was sleeping on a futon in a" gaijin house" paying $10 U.S. a night
.I was getting awfully tired of fish and rice at a stand-up lunch-counter with my secondary choice being" tomago", raw egg mixed with hot gohan (rice) the cheapest meals around.
So I had to do something as I had a young pretty and (at that time) faithful Filipina wife and two toddler twin boys dependent on me back in Dagupan, Pangasinan,.
I had been a street artist in Montreal years before, painting and selling Quebec views to tourists. Actually I had done well in that field. So this was my choice again in Tokyo. This decision brought danger and nearly death with erotic connection with girls such as seen here. Mostly though it brought an end to my sojourns in Japan. I was not banned by the government but marked by yakuza. I am hoping that these many years later i might tell the story without some elderly tattooed yakuza member coming to my door in Vancouver and making me an offer I could not refuse..
Another problem was I had left most of my money in several banks, one in the Philippines and one in Canada. Before leaving Canada a few months before going to my family in the Philippines the bank employee in Canada had told me that my bank withdrawal card would would be good in the Philippines and also Japan. This was not so. I tried the Sumimoto bank which i had been told was the designated bank for my Canadian account. The card went into the slot of the A.T.M. but when I put in my pin it was rejected. After three tries, the machine kept the card. I went to a teller and explained the situation
asking for my card back.
The clerk was so sorry but keeping the card was to stop criminals. "Yes, I am aware of that, but I am not a criminal."
I was told to come back in three days and make an appointment with the manager for foreign accounts.
Then I could ask for my card. After a few days I was able to see the manager for foreign accounts.
"Do you have a foreign account with this bank?" he asked.
Not exactly." I tried to explain.
"Then we cannot help you, We suggest you contact your bank in Canada for a replacement. We cannot give you a replacement here as you are not an honoured customer.
So sorry the card would be already shredded."
I was stranded in Tokyo with just a few yen. Tokyo is a very expensive city. I recall looking at an apple and wondering whether I could afford it, and deciding against buying it. This was the first time I had been really hungry for many years. In fact the last time I remember being really hungry was in 1961 in Mexico when I had emerged from hiding on a freighter at Vera Cruz after thirty days at sea, stowing away from Darling Harbour, Sydney ,but that was long ago.
A fellow foreigner (I think he was Swiss) forced a few yen on me (I did not protest too much) and told me that there was a Christian mission in another part of Tokyo which gave free meals to mostly foreigners down on their luck. This described me clearly.
However going to the underground "chica" I found I would have to change from the red line to the yellow line then to the green line. And since all the station signs were in kanji, which I could not read, I knew I would get lost. Another thing the subway tickets (kippu )were not cheap, For the free meal it would cost me about $16 just for fares alone.
For several days I roamed the city looking for casual labouring jobs. Once I ate an orange in a paper sack someone had left at a bus stop. I started to imagine how great it would be just to sit in the park and drink a Kirin beer. No luck for that. Put that out of my mind mate!
Finally a Japanese who had a small grocery store took pity on my situation and my pleas for "shigoto kudesai?" that he steeered me inside to the warehouse and gave me a broom.
I was happy to get even such a menial job and worked very long and hard, leaving the establishment at nightfall with enough to pay for the place on the floor at the gaijin house residential and another bland meal of plain rice and fish at the stand-up stall in the market.
I spent several days painting small landscapes more or less in the style of the how to paint books of the Canadian Rockies. I could do this fast because, like a piece of music I had these paintings in my head. I have a whole repertoire really and give me paints, brushes a small canvas and a kitchen table and I can knock out paintings by the dozens.
Painting pictures I have never considered to be more than a learned art, actually a craft. All the ballyhoo about fine art is mostly just a means to get higher prices.
Anyway the morning came when I found a small unoccupied portion of a market lane. I set up my dozen paintings all of the Rockies, which by chance happened to be very popular with the Japanese public, as many traveled to Canada just to see them or to ski.
My prices were modest but the yen being so high against the dollar, it was worth while. After several hours of exposing my work and telling the onlookers in my simple Japanese:
" Lake Louise in the winter and it was very cold when I painted this work. My hands were frozen, but I just worked on in the cold so I could bring my paintings here to you." etc.... well, I had many admirers and by noon I had sold all the paintings. Counting up the money afterwards I found I had made over a thousand dollars.For three days work this was no fortune, but it was enough for me to live on and send back some money to my Philippine bank.
I kept on this track for about a week and continued to sell.
One morning a tough-looking guy appeared with tattoos and muscles flexing. He demanded money. Of course I would not give him any. He was very angry and spoke Japanese quickly with a loud voice, not at all the polite voice of most Japanese. His fists closed and his body made menacing gestures. I could not understand most of the language .
Suddenly he reached for a painting, threw it on the ground and stomped on it. I could not have that happen again, so grabbed a metal tube from my easel stand and hit his bare ankles with quite a lot of force knocking him over. Then, as I had been taught in the course of unarmed combat many years before, I poked him hard in the belly area. I was aware that I could further disable by hitting the side of his neck. Just as well I stopped in time. A blow like that could kill him .
He yelled in pain and dismay, crawled away and then hobbled to his feet and disappeared in the crowd, which moved rapidly away from him.
A fellow trader who was selling mannikin dolls approached me with concern. I was feeling great. I had just beaten a bully. I expected the other traders would be happy with me. Not so. All the street traders and onlookers seemed shocked and scared.
The mannikin doll guy could speak a little English and in mixed language he explained to me "That man Yakuza. He ask you pay "Yakuza tax". You must give him 15% of daily profit. We all pay, otherwise they destroy our goods, or even us....."
"So you mean if he comes back tomorrow I have to pay him?"
"Too late now. Tomorrow two, three Yakuza will come and maybe to kill you.Maybe just cut off your hand. The one you use for painting. You have brought them shame. They cannot let that happen without revenge."
"What will the police do, if these galoots try it?" I asked.
"The police will not see, even if they are looking...."
I left Japan, that enigmatic nation, on the first available flight out and have never been back.
I go with you to love hoteru, desne?
.....to be continued.