Saturday, April 25, 2009

"What's Wrong With Being Naked?"

So asked SMAP star Kusanagi Tsuyoshi as police arrested him for drunkenly appearing in the all-together in a Tokyo park. What's wrong with being naked, indeed? I've lost count of how many times I've been naked in Japan. Mostly taking showers, but there was that trip to the on-sen (hot spring) near Kakegawa. That was an interesting experience, just four old guys and me, naked in the hot water under the blue sky, a few cloud puffs blowing overhead and green mountains rising around us. From below, the sound of a river and families splashing together, high-pitched squeals from happy kids; the on-sen was in a campground.

And isn't that what we're all really asking? What's wrong with being naked? So get in touch with your more natural self, head to the park and strip off your clothes and ask the world, "What's wrong with being naked?"

Actually, I don't know too much about this guy. Strange way for him to introduce himself. According to the article, he's known as the "quietest" and "gentlest" member (those are always the ones who snap first) of SMAP, an extremely popular pop group whose members are all multi-talented. And they do all kinds of TV specials, practically non-stop. Especially popular with some of my school's students is their New Year's show.

Katori Shingo is the only member whose name I actually know. I saw him do a one-man comedy show (in English, no less) on TV my first year living in Japan and was very impressed. In the segment I watched, he portrayed a somewhat fey entertainment "journalist" who asked the audience their opinions about several rude rumors relating to Katori Shingo-- mostly about whether or not they thought he was too fat or had gained too much weight recently.

Katori is also famous for his cross-dressing antics as "Shingo Mama" on Sata Suma (Saturday SMAP), in a segment where he dons a wig and a frilly dress to surprise various families by filling in as their mother at breakfast. Hilarious Candid Camera-type stuff like this is hugely popular on Japanese TV, and Katori Shingo wouldn't be out of place on Saturday Night Live in the US. In fact, I wish he'd make an American film so Lorne Michaels would invite him to host.

Well, Japan is lucky if their celebrities are merely taking off all their clothes in public parks, and I think Kusanagi's sponsors are overreacting by pulling all his ads from TV (not that I've ever seen any of them, come to think of it). In America, we've got celebrities punching people in the face, killing their wives or being killed by them, or else driving haphazardly around looking for Starbucks and neglecting to strap their children into safety seats. And you can't even turn on the computer to check your email without spending hour after hour trying to track down their sex videos, checking site after site and growing ever more frustrated until finally you end up playing thirty consecutive games of "Scramble" on Facebook.


mike said...

Hey Joe,
Read the article your post linked to and was most intrigued by this: the police said, "they also searched his house to determine his motive for the stripping act and to dig up more details..."
What?! That would not go over here in the States. Some interesting cultural differences come out of that move by the police.
I was just reading in a book about emotions that a researcher studying 'disgust' noted how a person who doesn't fit into the social order* or who unfairly criticizes others, disgusted the Japanese.

*appropriate to this case

Joel Bryan said...

Doesn't that seem strangely nosy? What's the standard on probable cause in the States?

It seems they could search your person or perhaps even your car in America... but then to go to your house? Why not also his parents' house, or his school records. Surely the root cause must be in there somewhere!

"Disgust" is a pretty strong reaction. It's interesting how this creates disgust here, while someone gender variant might create disgust at home. Or something like that. Only ignorance disgusts me.

Ignorance and poop.

modernnipponproject said...

Dear Joel Bryan

I'm sorry to intrude here on your blog post, but I was not able to find an email address to write to.

I'm contacting you on behalf of our website

We are planning to renew our site and make it into a more advanced information platform for Japanese and foreigners coming to or living in Japan, to exchange useful information or find other people with the same experience in their area (since it is especially difficult for foreign residents who do not live in the big cities) and introduce the town they live in, its best spots and foods, post photos and articles.

We are looking for foreign residents in ALL Japanese prefectures and would love to hear their experiences and share them with others on our new interactive website, and we hope helpful and interesting discussions will come up in the course.

Maybe you would like to contribute a blog entry you wrote in the past, if the interactive concept is not your type. ANY sort of contribution or interaction would be greatly appreciated and we would be very grateful.

Our current site is not being updated while we are still in preparations for the brand new interactive information platform, but please do have a look and if you are interested in any of the ideas above, please do let us know and write us back.

We hope we can gather a lot of people and create cultural interaction on the new Modern Nippon Project site.

Thanks for reading and hoping to hear from you soon!

Yours kindly,
the members of the MNP team

Joel Bryan said...

Hello Modern Nippon Project- Yes, I'd very much like to participate or contribute. Thanks for asking!

How do I contact you directly?

modernnipponproject said...

Dear Joel,

Thank you so much for your reply!

I am very sorry that my answer is coming so late.

I was really happy to hear back from you! It’s very encouraging to have someone interested in the project, especially since it is a new start and it all takes time until people get together.

Moving the server will probably take until summer, because the engineer in charge is on sick leave at the moment, so right now we are focusing on the new lighter and fresher page design.

But as soon as we get more details and dates, I’ll get back to you!
Sorry for the inconvenience caused with this delay.

If you would like to contact us directly, just write to modernnipponproject((@))

Again, thank you so very much for answering and showing interest! It gives us the positive energy to get this project running.


Ines & Hanne from the Modern Nippon Project Team.