Tumbleweeds

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  • Published 20061205
  • ISBN: 9780733319396
  • Extent: 266 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

IT WAS SOON after I arrived in Japan that I met the sexpats. The long-term sex holidaymakers. You know the type. Asia is full of them – Japan especially, though it’s a little harder to find obliging children there, in the second biggest economy in the world, the inventors of Hello Kitty, breast-enlarging gum, death from overwork, love hotels and karaoke. What an astonishing place. A living, breathing patriarchy. Rape isn’t reported. There are women-only carriages on the trains to fend off the gropers. I saw a woman groped in a unisex carriage – a brief gasp as her shoulders stiffen, as she endures. Is it any wonder that Japan attracts refugees, white men fleeing from feminism? When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Rome, do the Romans.

I’ve been back five months, but Japan still comes back to me in flashes overlaid on my normal reality. Here, a cheap red-brick share house, the smell of frying onions, my mid-twenties search for direction; there, a dreamscape shot through with a startling intensity of being. When I was in Japan I felt I was floating, but now that I’m back it feels much, much more real than here.

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