I have been asked numerous times to write about my experiences living in Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun. So, I thought I might start a new series here chronicling how things were while living in Misawa Japan. Yes, it was the United States Air Force that brought me to Japan, but I want to talk about living there and not so much working there. The easiest place for me to start this all off is to tell about certain traditions that I chose to be a part of while living in the local economy. We rented a house deep in the heart of farm country, nothing new for me since I grew up in southeast Texas. The great thing about the location of this house was straight out the back door and across the parking lot there was an onsen (温泉) (public hot bath). This was important because the bath tub in the house was the size of a postage stamp. We were informed of what exactly it was and the traditions around the onsen there locally by our realtor.
My (ex)wife decided that going to the onsen was not something she was going to take part in. My wife was never real keen being naked in front of other people, high school gym and sports classes proved that fact to me years before. Which is strange because she was quite the quiet exhibitionist when it was just her and I out in public places. She was a closet tease to say the very least. However, that is yet another story altogether. We had it explained to us that the onsen setting was not unlike group showers in American high schools or in public and private gyms. Fair enough, seems like the Japanese got the whole keeping clean thing under control because most local neighborhoods had an onsen or three. Not to mention the large resorts that were centered around the very ornate onsens inside them. We were lucky, we lived in billeting (on-base hotel) for close to two weeks because of the snowstorms that had blown through. This time allowed our belonging to meet us in Japan and gave us time to purchase the other furniture we needed. All we shipped were our clothes, a television, a vcr, towels and wash cloths, dishes, pots and pans, a hand-me-down couch, and my king-size water bed.
The day arrived where we took possession of our rental house. It was brand new, one of eight houses built-in this courtyard style block. It was a townhouse, like the rest, we all shared a common “drive” which all of the houses faced with a one car car-port to the side. We were the first people to ever live in the house since it was built. It had a layout we were familiar with which was way different from other houses we looked at. On that same day our belongings arrived and were hastily unpacked by 2 very fast men. Also, the other furniture and furnishings we purchased were also delivered and set up. After some unpacking we needed to go back to billeting to gather our belongings and check out. It never crossed my mind, looking back, to grab a quick shower after such a long day. When we got back to the house she was tired so she laid out on the couch for a nap. I looked in our bathroom for the bath tub, I wanted to soak my cold bones for a while. What did I find? Well, the entire bathroom was a shower basically, if that makes any sense, and in the corner there was a tub created out tile set around three feet into the floor. This “tub” measured 30 inches by 30 inches square. No way to lay out in that tub for sure, it wasn’t happening.
I needed to get cleaned up however, so I told my wife I was going next-door to check the onsen out. It was the 2nd week of January, the temp was about 3 degrees farenheit, the wind was blowing at around 40 mph, and there was close to 4 feet of snow on the ground. I grabbed my wallet, flip-flops, shave kit, my shoes, a towel, walked out back across the parking lot. I had no clue what to do and everything was in Japanese. We lived far enough from the base that they didn’t see too many Americans on purpose. Luckily, the women who was clearing the water and snow from the entrance “showed” me where to remove my shoes, place them in the cubicle, and put on my flip-flops. Then she pointed me in the direction of the lobby. In the lobby there were a multitude of vending machines that sold everything, and when I say everything I mean anything from food, drinks, toiletries, clothes, cars, a date, porn, and tokens to the hot bath of course. I was surprised, the token for the hot bath was the U.S. equivalent to about 65 cents. As soon as my token dropped I heard a grizzly grunt at me who was the man behind me holding his hand out pointing that I should put my token in it. So I did and he then led me the men’s side of the bath house.
It had a typical look to a locker room I guess. Benches to get undressed, sinks and mirrors, and toilet stalls as well. As I was getting undressed I wasn’t sure where to put my belongings so I had to look around like a pervert stalker to see what others were doing. Okay, it’s really simple, place all of it into what looks just like a laundry basket, and then place that into one of the cubicles. I found very fast that I had to get over my trust issues because nothing is secured or locked up. I grabbed my stuff out of my shaving kit and placed it in a small plastic container which I then took with me into the next area, following others as I was unsure of the “process”. Watch and learn right. The next room was the washing area. Reminded me of once when I was in 4H of the washing stations for the livestock. There were three double-sided concrete barriers which had numerous “stations” that included a mirror, a shower head, and the faucet. One sat down on a 6″ tall stool to bath. But watch out, I found out by being smacked in the leg, not to put any body part in the trough that ran at the base of the wall, which served as the drainage that led to a large grate down at the end. Who knew. I had picked a cozy spot right in the middle. I found out later that the desired spots are those at the top of the trough. Lesson learned.
Now, the funny part for you. I’m 6’8″ in the land of the little people, which got me more than one funny or cross look. This place was not built for people my size for sure. Now, it was allot like being at home, I shaved, brushed my teeth, washed my hair, bathed, then rinsed off. I need to mention the water had one temperature, freaking scalding hot. About midway through getting clean a very, very, old man, my guess was he was well over 100 years old, sat next to me. Standing to the rear of him was a young girl, I figured about 16 or 17, completely nude as well, began washing the old man. First thing I noticed is he took out his teeth and handed them to her to clean, which she did with what looked like Lava soap and a brush one would scrub floors with. I’ll admit, she had my attention. I think more so because we were on the all male side of the hot bath so she was quite an unexpected surprise. Perhaps she could see the confusion in my face because she squatted down next to me and began to talk, in great English I might add. She explained she was the great, great grand-daughter of this man, and it was tradition for the youngest to assist the eldest in daily tasks. She also explained that girls up to the age of 19 can assist on the male side and boys up to the age of 13 can assist on the female side. Interesting tidbit of information to say the least.
Nobody, and when I say nobody I mean nobody, paid her any attention whatsoever, except for me it would seem. More out of curiosity than anything really. Here I had only been in Japan for just a few weeks and I already have seen my first live nude Japanese female. I know what you are thinking, and yes she was young, but it was hard not to stare. I got up to go to the first sitting pool which was so hot I sat on the edge with only my legs in it at first, which were turning bright red as I sat there. The girl walked over her grand father to pool I was trying to get the courage to get into and helped him straight in up to his neck. Damn. She then scampered off to do her cleaning. When I forced myself down into the water, which took my breath away, I couldn’t help but to notice she was back. She entered the pool right at my eye level and tended to him. She sat with the old man for a while. I had seen others get out and move to the next pool, so I followed suit.
Now, I only thought the first sitting pool was hot, this one had it topped by at least 500 degrees, but I was able to slither right in because I was already cooking. The men sat in this one for a short period and then moved on. Like a lost puppy I followed them to the next pool. There should have been a sign on this pool, something that reads “Caution. Water Will Melt The Skin From Your Bones. Caution.”, but there was no warning for this Gaijin (外人) (look it up, it was the nickname the Japanese called the servicemen) and I found out the hard way. But, damn, did it feel good after the shock went away. One didn’t sit in this one very long at all. Then, they head to the steam room, a quaint, small room that had a 2 minute egg timer because it was so damn hot. So, in and out it was. I couldn’t breathe, my lungs were on fire, and I wanted to just die right there. Yea, clean up in the sauna please. When I exited the sauna I was basically grabbed by the arm to stop me from walking, I was shown to watch the man in front of me who was in a small “tank” which he was squatted in up over his head in the water. He was out and I was in. One fluid motion until the water covered my head, it took my breath away because it was a temperature just above freezing. Out of there just as fast as I went in. A quick wash off and I was on my way out.
After getting dressed I felt drained of all of my energy and will to live. I don’t think I have ever been that relaxed in my entire life. When I left the dressing room I was guided over to some tables where I was sat down. Soon after I was brought a cup of warm herbal tea and a bowl of some of the blandest noodle soup I have ever tasted. Come to find out, it was ginseng root soup and they weren’t noodles after all. It was to recharge a person, to put a little wang back in your step before you left. It was relaxing and it does bring the energy back. Come to find out it is all included in the price of admission. So far, I’m liking the onsen just behind my house. It was one hell of an experience and became my daily bad habit. I probably went there almost every single day for close to the five years I was there. When I went back home after my first time I really wanted to talk to my wife about it, but she didn’t show an interest or really care because she wasn’t ever going to try it out for herself.
About a year after my daughter was born my parents came to Japan to visit as their big summer trip. This part of the story I have been forbidden to ever tell my mother because, in my dad’s opinion (because he is old-fashioned), he saw things that he should feel guilty for seeing. Anyway, going to the onsen became my everyday, twice a day, habit because everyday that tiny postage stamp size bath tub got smaller and smaller. My dad made the comment that he wished to retire for the evening and was going to get washed up before bed. The look of horror on his face will remain forever priceless when he entered the bathroom and just as fast came out asking where the shower or tub were. So, I explained to him what I knew, well, not everything, but I explained how things were here. You see, he is 6’4″ @ about 265lbs, which makes it hard for him to squeeze into anything. After a brief discussion, we collected our things to head to the hot bath. I gave him one instruction, which was to just follow my lead and follow what I do so he doesn’t embarrass me.
We made the walk across the parking lot, it was fairly warm this time of year so the walk was pretty leisurely to say the least. We went through the “tourist” mode where I had to explain everything in the lobby to him. After 1 1/2 years I have really gotten good at reading Japanese and knew a handful of phrases to always get me on my way. After getting our tokens we entered the area to change out of our street clothes to get ready. Shortly after sitting down to begin the washing of ourselves I get a nudge on my arm from my dad. When I looked over to him he was 12 different shades of red with embarrassment and was holding his wash cloth over his privates. He was showing me that there were young females in the room so I had to go through the ordeal of explaining the traditions and protocols here. He played it off but I could see he was pretty bothered about it all. I remember my first time and after that it became common place, even routine enough where one doesn’t notice it as standing out any longer. We continued with what my routine had become, it really gets shortened to about a 30 minute trip as time moves on because one gets in and gets out. We did sit and have the tea and soup when we were done, sitting there in silence except for one simple command, “never speak of any of this to my mother, not even at her grave”. Unfortunately for my dad, this was his first and last trip to any of the hot bathes in Japan, he decided he could and would make do with the facilities we offered at the house.
Over the years I frequented a large sampling of onsen in my extended local area, my absolute personal favorite was a resort on the edge of town that was very cool. I didn’t go there too much, 3 or 4 times, because it was a fair drive and much more expensive. I was wondering how to explain the one at the resort because it was out of this world. Minecraft players or those familiar with Minecraft will understand better. Imagine taking the elevator down, getting of said elevator, and entering through some very large opaque glass doors. The changing area looked like all the other ones I had seen, pretty basic, but going into the hot bath area was incredible. Imagine opening a door and being in a very dense forest, looking up you see the tops of the trees and the stars in the sky. This place looked like being outdoors the way it was done up, it looked so real it made you touch the fake trees and the walls just to remind yourself you were a few stories underground. It’s just hard to explain I guess, but it throws all your senses for a loop with the big waterfalls and whatnot.
My (ex)wife never went to an onsen the entire time we were living in Japan, however, my daughter went with me on occasion once she started toddling. I learned allot while I was in Japan, beyond the language difference, beyond the cultural differences, and beyond the cuisine differences. Tradition is complex and deep-rooted, everything, and I mean everything when I say everything, had a meaning of some sort. The people I interacted with where I lived locally became to know me all to well. I would get invited to a stranger’s house a few doors down for snacks or people would bring local cuisine or gifts to my house as gestures of our “friendship”. Fortunately for me, I chose to immerse myself in the culture and get to know as much as I could. The hot baths were just the tip of what I would take away from Japan when I left. Ask my (ex)wife and she would only be able to tell you the tourist places we went to go visit. Its sad, but very true, but then again, she never got over being roughly 6600 miles from her mother the entire time we were there.
So, this was interesting and fun for me. It was nice to take a trip back in time to a place I really enjoyed living on the northern tip of Japan. I look forward to writing more of these specific subject related posts about living in Japan. Who knows, maybe I will expand and just write about everywhere I have been. Well, I can’t write about “everywhere” I have been, but I can give some insight about place x and place y without giving away the actual place or why I was there. Everywhere I traveled in the world was a “challenge” in its own special way. Until we meet again, thank y’all for taking the time to read a little bit about my life in Japan.
One of my favorite things about arriving to work at Club X was the absolute red carpet rock star treatment. This treatment wasn’t just reserved for me, it is how everyone who pulls up to the front door for valet parking is treated. There is no better feeling than pulling up to the red carpet, having your door opened for you by a Wicked Weasel bikini clad beauty who extends her hand to assist you getting out, and then turning your keys over to her so she can drive away to park your vehicle. I would experience this only a couple times a week because I would drive my H1 into work, but normally I was riding my Goldwing and I would just park her myself. It doesn’t stop there, that was only the start, because now one has to go through the entrance where one is greeted cheerfully by scantily clad to full nude attendants who grab you by the arm to escort you to be carded and banded. Finally, a lovely assistant will take you into the club and give you the grand tour and eventually seat you in the best seat in the house. Which, in the end, every seat is the absolute best seat. For me this is where my journey would end because I would peel off to my bar to get set up for yet another party.
For first timers this initial experience is very overwhelming because these young ladies have just scratched the surface for what the rest of the night has to offer. I enjoy watching the fresh faces come thru the door because the look on their faces reminds me of the look on my face when I lost my virginity so many years ago. Lets just say they are smiles from ear to ear for most of the night. Since my bar double as a rather large stage the newbies tend to migrate there because they can all be together while they stretch their wings to see what direction they want to go. I get allot of old hats as well because the shows that happen on my bar do not happen anywhere else in the club and some people look forward to what they might see. Of course they are not there to see me, they are sitting here to see the strippers because they know that as the night progresses that the shows on the bar get a little bit dirtier, a little bit nastier, and the strippers tend to really show off their skills while laid out on my bar.
Every once in a while we will get a gentleman at the bar who is easily embarrassed. Normally this would be no big deal but the strippers here exploit the fact that someone is a little taken aback by what he sees. A great example of this would be once when a young man in his early twenties could not maintain eye contact with anyone at all, not even me. He seemed to always have something to look away at, he would find a focal point someplace, and that turned out to be his utter demise. The strippers ganged up on him, they tortured him visually, and they would not let him escape. It started with one stripper that sat on his lap facing him face to face. She began with slow, methodic movements which were little less than a slow grind on his lap. I remind you at this point that she is completely nude so the only thing between him and her are his jeans. It only takes a little bit of this activity before she discovers that he has become very excited and very erect, which, in the end, was her goal. She wanted to get him all worked up, she wants to take him to absolute very edge and then as fast as she was on his lap she was leaving his erection to fend for itself. Cruel? Yes. This is an effective ploy by the strippers since they can “handle” the customer as much as they want and how they want but the customer never gets to do the same, nine out of ten times the customer is asked to sit on his own hands, which is a true act of cruelty.
The strippers, the ones who make the most money, have mastered the art of the dry fuck and they know just when to stop. Sometimes, I think as a cruel trick, they take it just a little to far, just to see the mess someone will make in their pants. Why do the strippers try so hard? Money, money, and more money. They know that they can separate you from your money if they can give you something you don’t already have. Which is the point really, the strippers are there to make money and the customers are there to spend money, so it’s like a match made in heaven if you will. Some of my favorite strippers to watch are the ones that are stripping for some supplemental income. They may have another job or they may be a stay at home wife/mother who needs the added income. As soon as they get over being shy the party gets started and they put on the best shows ever. One would be surprised how many strippers are stripping on the side, I know I was surprised. One must ask, are they here for fun, boredom, the money, or a little bit of all three?
An example of a stripper who is here part-time is Rox, she is a CNS (Clinical Nurse Specialist) and has worked at one of the largest hospitals here in Houston for the past 2 years. In our talks it was mentioned that she takes in just shy of $90K, she is the mother of three boys, and has been divorced for the past 3 years. When I asked her why she was here she told me that she has always loved dancing, she has always stayed in shape, and she figured if she could keep up with the college girls that she might be able to make some extra money. Oddly enough, she answered an add in the paper and the rest is strip club history. Asking yourself how old she is yet? I know, but I will never tell. Why? Because its not that important, I will say she is between 28 and 34 and that is all I will say. I will say that the quiet talk around here pegged her as a threat to the other strippers money and they weren’t happy about that fact. She has a little experience in life under her belt which makes her a more well-rounded person, plus, c’mon, she is a freakin nurse! I know, I know, I know, we don’t like to think that our mothers and our professionals in society could possibly be strippers. Say it isn’t so Scorp. I can’t because the reality of it all is that woman have found the golden ticket and realize that in exchange for a little skin exposure they can really clean up at the bank. Lets just say that weeks prior to Christmas 2013 she picked up an extra $8K for shopping. There is no doubt in my mind that she is good at what she does, she always gets my attention, especially when she is on my bar. Just wow.
Another example of a person looking for a second income who has a decent job already is Kat, she is a 2nd year associate lawyer at a medium size law firm here in Houston that employs around 300 lawyers, making an annual $125K. She is here for fun. She and I have talked allot because she has been and probably always will be the shyest stripper I have ever met. It seems like every time she hits the stage is her very first time. We get along tho, we have similar music tastes, in fact I pick out her songs when I’m working because she knows they will be fast and hard-hitting, just like her. Kat is in her late 20s and demands your attention when she is on the dance floor. If she can’t get your attention on the dance floor or by giving you a lap dance then you just might have issues. Sad thing is she knows she is rockin hot, sad thing is she knows that when she catches your eye that she owns you. Allot of the strippers have this attitude but only Kat and a handful of others are actually capable of making you fall under their trance. Beware the stare of the Kat!
But Scorp, we don’t care about who and why the strippers are there. We come to a full nude strip bar to see titties, ass, and pussies everywhere. Why do we need to know all the rest of this shit. I’ll tell you why, it’s because not everyone understands that these strippers are more than a piece of meat hanging in the market window for y’all to imagine fucking. Each one of them has a story and fortunately I have the opportunity to hear some of their stories. But, I agree, people come to a strip club for three basic reasons, they want to get drunk, they want to get drunk while watching full nude strippers do things their wives and girlfriends would never do, and they come to the strip club to leave their problems behind them and just have a great time. Nobody walks into a strip bar on accident, it is a clear & conscious choice usually made with a little advance planning.
For those of y’all new to The Sting Of the Scorpion y’all are probably feeling just a wee bit left out. My recommendation to you is to look to the right and locate the “Category Listing” for this blog and click “Scorpion Sting’s Bartender Stories” for past stories. Unfortunately the list is rather short, like 18 selections, because early in 2013 Google decided to kill my Blogger account which was home to one of my blogs called “Bartender: Untold Stories“. Unfortunately I was only able to save a few of the stories and have been writing new ones as time progresses. I think there are a few more in “The Dead Blog Archives” as well. Anyway, check those out and read up on why and how I have been able to tell these fantastic stories and look forward to many more. I have only begun to delve into my little black book for great interviews and stories.
Before I get started in this particular post I want to explain what will be happening after this first paragraph. We (my 12 y/o son and I) are conducting an experiment based on words and illustrations from my son’s personal handwritten journal. He has been writing in his journal for around 4 years now, prior to that it was used to color, doodle, and paste things inside. The eventual evolution to writing came involuntarily to him as he was looking for a non-verbal way to express himself and what he was feeling. Those of y’all visiting for the first time will need to know that my son is autistic and bipolar. The degree of each is hard to say because doctors won’t ever say, they only say he is still in the stages of development and all we can really do is watch and learn every day. As an observation, there are many days he looks as though he is in shear pain and others that he seems as happy as one can expect a 12 y/o boy to be. The following is taken from his journal.
“December 29, 2013
My dad asked me today if I would like to play him a few games of chess. Because I had paused before responding he looked at me like I didn’t want to play. When will we play should have been his question. It seems like such a long time between times that we do get to play. I know he is busy being everybody’s dad. I understand that he is not just my dad but I wish my dad was just my dad more times. When we are together I am not reminded by my sisters that I need to share because now I don’t have to share. I wonder what it will be like when sissy moves away after graduating school. I heard my mom say she would still live here while she was going to school for a few more years. That fact does not make me happy at all. Time to go play chess as I’m being summoned to the kitchen table.
I would think that after 9 years of playing chess I could learn how to beat my dad like I beat my friends so quickly. It sucks. I have never won playing him. He tells me it is for my own good that he does not let me win because it will give me false hope because I didn’t earn the win. I respect his feelings but sometimes I can see the win but he always takes it away from me. Todays score, dad 8, me 0. To top it all off 6 of them were checkmates under 12 moves. He really must think I am stupid. Sometimes when I make a mistake he looks at me with a stare that really hurts my feelings, that look makes me angry, I want to cry. I can’t cry, mom says big boys don’t cry when they get hurt but it still hurts. My dad frustrates me because I can’t figure out which tactic he is using until it is too late. He has been playing chess forever. One day I want to win just once. I don’t want to win because then he might not want to play chess with me any more. He is so good and I will never be that good and I just want to be that good, good enough to win every time. We have played so many games, thousands of games, so many losses, never a stalemate because it never gets to be that close. Enough.
I’m laying in bed once again unable to sleep. I don’t dare risk getting caught playing on my phone, watching the tv, messing with my tablet, or anything else. I cannot go to sleep because I want to talk to my dad about questions I have but can never remember. I don’t like this time of night, I really hate this time of night, its too dark even with my flashlight but I cant turn on my light. My dad told me he knows what I do when I cant sleep, he says he knows I’m reading, drawing, or writing. He doesn’t know what I’m writing because he has never asked me to read any of my thoughts. I want to turn the light on because I’m not scared but I don’t know what those noises are or what to expect. I told my dad that I hear sounds and voices sometime at night and he told me it is the wind. Can the wind say my name. Can the wind have a voice I don’t recognize. I put my head covered in the pillow and the sounds get louder, they get closer, and they get clearer. He said we have an appointment tomorrow with the therapist, not for anything like I said but because it has been two weeks and it’s time once again.
I don’t want to go to therapy because we talk about what she wants to talk about but not what I want to talk about. I want to yell at her. I want to scream at her because I want to hate her but she is nice to me and she makes me smile. The last time we went to see her she asked what I dream about at night when I am asleep. I feel bad because I made up a story that I saw on tv because I don’t want anyone to know I don’t dream too often and when I do it is too scary to talk about to anybody. I do not want to talk her about my dreams. Why has my dad never asked me about what I dream about. I think he knows that I don’t like my dreams because I heard him tell my mom once that he doesn’t dream either. I wonder what his dreams are about and if he gets scared. Does my dad even get scared I wonder. She will ask me again about sleeping and dreaming. I want to tell her other things. I want to ask her questions for once.
I only have one question for her. Why are the sounds in my head so loud so often and so quiet so little.”
I have read that passage a few times before I transcribed it here. It brings tears to my eyes each time. Much of this I knew already but there are some things that are new to me. I asked if he was sure he wanted to make this the test post and he told me it was the one. I’m really at a loss for words. I think it might be time to be shopping for a new therapist tho.