One odd moment from my early days in Japan: There was a video rental store across from my first apartment, but I didn't know the system for getting a membership and my Japanese ability was approximately zero, so I hadn't gone over there yet. It was a huge building, two stories, the front all neoned to death. Anyway, I met another foreign teacher who lived in the same building, a girl from Texas, and she asked me if I'd been there yet. I told her my concerns about getting a membership, and she said all I had to do was show them my gaijin card (foreigner ID) and give them, IIRC, five thousand yen (about $50) as a deposit and they'd handle the rest.
So I went into the store, and the front part had some books and comics. I headed deeper in, and found that I was in the porn section somehow, and what a porn section. Everything was categorized, much of it in script that I couldn't read, but the boxes (this was VHS days) made it pretty clear which category I was in: uniform fetish, busty women, older women, what the? I looked up, and this section's sign was in English:
I began to wonder about the Texan woman's intentions. She'd told me to go to the world's largest porn store. Was this a hint?
I kept going, deeper into the bowels of the store. And yes, that's exactly what I mean, as there were now videos whose covers depicted smiling young ladies on the upper half, and piles of human excrement on the lower half, to let the consumer (ugh) know exactly what the color and texture of the particular girl's shit would be.
Then came a section with white women on the covers. And horses. And pigs. And goats and a monkey.
Keep in mind, this was a huge store that fronted on one of the large north-south arteries of that part of the city, not some back alley joint that you needed a password for. There were tired office workers idly looking through the racks for their evening's entertainment.
Then came the section with the panties and other used things related to women's nether regions. And yes, socks were included in that, but so were....
As I headed out of the store, my head swimming with disbelief, I spotted a stairway near the front door that I hadn't noticed when I entered. Steeling myself, I headed up, afraid even to wonder what horrors lay upstairs.
Disney. Schwarzenegger. Rom-Coms with Meg Ryan. Lake Placid.
All the things that would be in the front of any normal store were hidden away on the second level of Nobunaga Video....
But they did have both versions (Kubrick's and the one starring Jeremy Irons) of Lolita.
In the "Romance" section.
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