The law must be irrational, since if there were reasons for obeying it it would lose its absolute authority

October 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

One of my cousins spent four weeks in a hinanjo (避難所, evacuation shelter) after the Tohoku disaster, and during that time she experienced the moteki (モテキ, a time when one is gloriously attractive to the opposite sex) of her life.

Now in her 40s and divorced for some time, this cousin had always been pretty and hadezuki (派手好き, having a penchant for all things glittery, or just plain flamboyant) — to use one of my grandmother’s phrases.

When her marriage fell apart, my cousin took it in all her stride and moved out of her damp, gloomy house into a light-filled apartment just outside Sendai city. She got a job at a big discount store to shiwake (仕分け, dividing and categorizing) the stock, a skill which she later deployed to full use within 30 hours of the Great East Japan Earthquake when supplies from well-wishers started coming in from all over the country.

Even working among the danbōru-bako (ダンボール箱, cardboard boxes) by day, and sleeping in the local chūgakko (中学校, junior high school) gymnasium by night, my cousin was always made-up, her hair carefully dyed and sporting her favorite necklaces. Men at the hinanjo trampled over each other to ask her out, preferably to the nearest operative bar 10 km away. (The toilet didn’t work but hey, sake was ¥100 per tumbler!) One night, someone tried to sneak into her futon, which for the record wasn’t conducive to romance or even a night’s rest. Another man approached her and offered her the use of his house, as soon as he could get the mud and seaweed out of the premises. And then he proposed. My cousin summed up her situation in one sentence: “Nanpatte iiwanē!” (「ナンパっていいわねえ!」”It’s so nice to be courted!”).

The catch? None of the gentlemen were a day under 50 years old. But I circulated my cousin’s story to a bunch of Tokyo women and their collective reaction pretty much amounted to: “How could such a thing happen — and why isn’t it happening to me?”  read more

STILL: Andre Almuró

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