Tabloid Tokyo : 101 Tales of Sex, Crime and the Bizarre from Japan's Wild Weeklies compiled by Mark Schreiber (Kodansha International)

I’m a long time resident of Japan. I have been living in Japan for over twenty years. When I first moved here, I had the same image as most people do about Japan. It’s a safe country. I can leave my wallet or bag on the train and nobody will steal it. People are very kind and helpful. Women can walk the streets alone at night without fear of being molested or raped. Drunk salarymen do not need to fear having their wallets stolen and so on. Most of this still holds true today. 

When I first moved to Japan in January of 1995, three days later, one of the largest earthquakes hit Kobe and over five thousand lives were lost. Only three months later, there was the sarin gas subway attack on a line I frequently used, committed by a doomsday cult which called themselves the Aum Shinri Kyo. So much for my image of Japan being a safe country.

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As with most countries, even Japan has its seedier side. There is the Yakuza, the Japanese version of the Mafia which are involved in organized crime. The host and hostess clubs, known as mizu shobai in Japanese which are usually run by the Yakuza as a legitimate business. There are places called Pink Salons where men can go and legally pay for oral sex. There are image clubs which have rooms set up to fulfill clients fantasies such as being groped by a woman on a train or the room will have an office setting and the client can play boss and secretary. There are also health clubs and soap lands where a woman will bathe you and provide some type of sexual service for a small fee. 

This book is a collection of articles that were selected from a variety of Japan’s weekly publications by three reporters - Geoff Botting, Ryan Connell, and Michael Hoffman and compiled into this one book by Mark Schreiber. The original articles were translated into English with the reporters own interpretation of the stories. The articles appeared in the “Tokyo Confidential” column of the Japan Times and the “Waiwai” section of the Mainichi Daily News online site. The articles were taken from many different tabloids which are similar to the National Enquirer and World Wide News but do not include stories about alien abductions or coming back from the dead.  

The publications have such titles as Friday, Shukan Jitsuwa, Shukan Post, and Flash, just to name a few. The articles have such colorful titles as “Parasite Couples Drain Parents Dry”, “Panty-Gazing Research Revealed” or one of my favorites, “Ugly Women Draw Men Like Flies”. They’re a collection of articles where the cliche, “truth is stranger than fiction” may be applicable. These stories give you a glimpse into a part of contemporary Japan that the Japanese probably do not want you to know about. However, as to the actual facts of the story, well, as with most tabloid publications, the stories are highly embellished and is best to read them with a grain of salt. Keeping that in mind, the stories are funny and entertaining and may get you to thinking what exactly is the “real” Japan. ~Ernie Hoyt