There we checked into an old world charming inn, Miyabo Ryokan.  And for a week crisscrossed  the country, visiting campus in Kanazawa, hanging out at student cafes and bars, eat at all night Japanese restaurants, browse bookstores, interview students in their club, go discoing in a place called – of all things, Maharaja.  Visited Meiji Mura – the open air architectural museum and also spent some time watching middle aged housewives amidst the deafening clanging of Pachinko Parlors, their gazes fixed on the pinball machines and their hands frantically pulling the handles as if on auto pilot.  Absolutely amazing! Staying always at Ryokans, the  traditional Japanese Inns with tatami mattresses on the floor, with the center of the tiny room serving as the spot where you lounged, slept and dined. Eating dried fish, sticky rice and green tea for breakfast which tasted awful, but still! On the trains we ate box lunches and in towns stuck to eating at down home sushi, yakatori and tepanyaki restaurants.

The idea was to observe, experience and absorb as much as one humanly can of  the country, its people and their lives within six short  days.  Also to see places and people where our readers are most likely to be. Perhaps even glean some insight into them. Basically, experience first hand the smells, the sounds and the sights of the land of the Rising Sun.

‘There is something else that you must know and see about the Japanese young men,’ Sasaki said, if a bit hesitating.

‘Sure.’

So here we are in Toyota city of  Nagoya, sitting in a small dingy and dim lit place called Tsurumai Theatre Live Strip Show.  Its  no bigger than a large living room with a small round stage at the other end, in front of which are several rows of randomly placed individual chairs with vending machines on the wall behind the audience. Machines are stocked with Coke and other soft drinks as well as an assortment of Japanese beers. Unlike what one would expect in a place like this, the beverages are prized the same as they would in a company cafeteria. There is no bar, neither the girls coming out in the audience to hustle.  I remember, the entrance fee being an  equivalent of US$ 12.- which even by the standards of 1985 was cheap, very cheap by the Japanese standards.

Not much different from the striptease joints in Soho district of London, except the audience and no hassle ambience. Most every one here is plus or minus twenty five years of age, compared to  me at forty five and Sasaki a bit younger, we would be considered dirty old men. If not quite the middle aged geezers of London. Other than a bit of  commotion at the end of the performance, with the men in the front row playing scissors, paper and rock, audience is extremely well behaved, almost reverential. They are all dressed in their young “salarymen” uniform of dark western suites and mostly white shirts with appropriately somber ties.

But what is different is the show itself. No holds barred to say the least. The dance routine as mechanical. The girls would strip in the standard, one piece of clothing at a time till she is completely naked.  Normally, this is where the show must end. But no, it serves just a warming up for more routines to follow.

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