Thursday, July 23, 2009

Japanese Falling For Pillows

That's just a sad sad sight

Source: New York Times

Nisan didn’t mean to fall in love with Nemutan. Their first encounter — at a comic-book convention that Nisan’s gaming friends dragged him to in Tokyo — was serendipitous. Nisan was wandering aimlessly around the crowded exhibition hall when he suddenly found himself staring into Nemutan’s bright blue eyes. In the beginning, they were just friends. Then, when Nisan got his driver’s license a few months later, he invited Nemutan for a ride around town in his beat-up Toyota. They went to a beach, not far from the home he shares with his parents in a suburb of Tokyo. It was the first of many road trips they would take together. As they got to know each other, they traveled hundreds of miles west — to Kyoto, Osaka and Nara, sleeping in his car or crashing on friends’ couches to save money. They took touristy pictures under cherry trees, frolicked like children on merry-go-rounds and slurped noodles on street corners. Now, after three years together, they are virtually inseparable. “I’ve experienced so many amazing things because of her,” Nisan told me, rubbing Nemutan’s leg warmly. “She has really changed my life.”

Nemutan doesn’t really have a leg. She’s a stuffed pillowcase — a 2-D depiction of a character, Nemu, from an X-rated version of a PC video game called Da Capo, printed on synthetic fabric. In the game, which is less a game than an interactive visual novel about a schoolyard romance, Nemu is the loudmouthed little sister of the main character, whom she calls nisan, or “big brother,” a nickname Nisan adopted as his own when he met Nemu. When I joined the couple for lunch at their favorite all-you-can-eat salad bar in the Tokyo suburb of Hachioji, he insisted on being called only by this new nickname, addressing his body-pillow girlfriend using the suffix “tan” to show how much he adored her. Nemutan is 10, maybe 12 years old and wears a little blue bikini and gold ribbons in her hair. Nisan knows she’s not real, but that hasn’t stopped him from loving her just the same. “Of course she’s my girlfriend,” he said, widening his eyes as if shocked by the question. “I have real feelings for her.”

According to many who study the phenomenon, the rise of 2-D love can be attributed in part to the difficulty many young Japanese have in navigating modern romantic life. According to a government survey, more than a quarter of men and women between the ages of 30 and 34 are virgins; 50 percent of men and women in Japan do not have friends of the opposite sex. One of the biggest best sellers in the country last year was “Health and Physical Education for Over Thirty,” a six-chapter, manga-illustrated guidebook that holds the reader’s hand from the first meeting to sex to marriage. of the story

As discussed before in previous post, Japan has the oldest population in the world. Nearly 50% of it's population is over 60. Why is it that young Japanese have so much trouble navigating romantic life? There's a bazillion Japanese over there, just match up? There must be something fundamentally wrong with a society where men charish a pillow more than a girl. I know the older Japanese generation is upset about Otaku. How does a macho samurai sake-drinking society turn into this?

A declining birthrate is one thing. Alot of Western societies have less kids for various reasons, financial, daycare, women in their careers etccc. But people are still getting married have having a great social life. How can a country have so many single people? Is it the guys who think the girls are needy? It is the girls who think the guys are jerks? Must be something!


Cliche said...

Unrealistic media expectations combined with lack of socialization skills, and generally not wanting to put up with other people makes living in a fantasy all the more appealing.

There is also the reverse of that, where the person thinks so little of themselves they wind up not trying. Even when all the signs are there, they will refuse to "take advantage" even when they are clearly being propositioned.

Degenerasian said...

But that doesn't explain not having a mate.

A boy and a girl can love each other and lack socialization skills together. Or if they think so little of themselves with someone. Team hermit! :)

What's this unrealisitic media expectation you speak of?

Cliche said...

"But look at me. How can someone who carries this around get married? People are probably wondering what psychiatric ward I escaped from. I would think the same thing if I saw me.” He widened his eyes in self-ridicule, then, the next moment, his expression became somber. “I’m pretty conflicted inside. People say there are some otaku who don’t want to get married, but that’s not true. Some have so little confidence that they’ve just given up, but deep inside their souls, they want it just as much as anybody else.”

A person can still be alone walking through a crowd of people.

Unrealistic media expectations is what I generically use as the examples of body types and desireable images presented in media. RE: PORN. and not the rule 34 stuff either.

Degenerasian said...

Ah that's a pity.

I ignore body types and desireable images. Looks isn't everything and people shouldn't get married to looks. It's a soulmate thing :)

Anonymous said...

I think part of the problem is that, guys like him and I aren't going to find an otaku girl, They seem to be uncommon and if you can find a girl who you can identify with you still have the problem that neither person will make the effort to start something. It's the hedgehogs dilemma on both sides.