J made his living off of Japanese women. And quite a living it was.
In case the title didn’t tip you off, this piece is an addition to The Hottest Brand In Japan.
If you haven’t read it, I would suggest starting there~
The day I met my old roommate J for the first time, these words rang in my mind,
Japanese people love something exotic. Have you seen all those strange flavors of Pepsi in the convenience stores? We live on an island. An island filled with Japanese people, ruled by Japanese culture, and share a similar Japanese way of thinking. So what could be more exotic to a Japanese person than someone/something not Japanese? Even now [in 2010], most Japanese people cannot speak English, and so even the thought of interacting with a foreigner is unfathomable to some people. Which means when a Japanese person looks at another Japanese person who is hanging out with a foreigner, they see someone doing the unimaginable. It’s like watching someone do magic!! And everyone loves magic tricks right? So, we love to be seen with foreigners. For some it is a novelty, and for some it becomes a lifestyle, but it is what it is and it’s probably not going to change anytime soon, so it’s better to just make the best of it.
“Make the best of it….”
That is exactly what J did.
J came to Tokyo from New Zealand around 2006 and noticed within hours of setting foot in Tokyo how much of a brand foreigners are in Japan. J had started out as an English teacher which helped him earn decent money, but he wasn’t really enjoying it. Luckily for J, it was something he wouldn’t have to endure for long.
Within 2 months, J realized that he could cash-in the gaijin brand, and started making some adjustments.
“It started out with one of my private English students” J started to tell me.
“She was a Japanese woman, 39, single, and living with her parents. She seemed to have a lot of free time and money…
At the start she was paying me 5,000 yen (about $50-70) an hour for our lessons, and we would meet about twice a week for 2 hours at a time. But gradually things changed. The location changed from a cafe, to a bar, and then finally restaurants, with her paying for everything. And just as gradually, we stopped working on English… Before I knew it we were speaking only Japanese. And she was still paying. On top of all of this, she started asking to see me more often, and for longer durations. Before I knew it she was buying me clothing and even having me accompany her to events”
J quit his job as a formal English Teacher and started trying to build more of a base of similar clients. He said that he started with online sites introducing him to private students, and he would try to convert the students into clients.
“Probably only 1 in every 10 or 12 students became a client. And most who didn’t, realized what I was trying to do and would either get upset or stop contacting me completely. Some even accused me of being a himo (a weak man who lives off the money of women and pays for nothing himself). And as right as they were, the ones who stuck around made it all worthwhile”
Within 5 months of coming to Japan, J had a substantial client base and was bringing in a shocking amount of money on a monthly basis. He was well fed, well dressed, and even had one client offering to move him into an apartment near her family’s house and pay the rent for him.
“Most of these Japanese women just wanted to be seen with me.” J said as we talked about his clients one night.
“They take me out to crowded areas and packed restaurants, dress me up in clothes that they think are ideal, and keep me latched onto their side as if I was an expensive handbag.”
And although for some, this may sound like a wonderful way to live, J was equally vocal about the downsides.
“Outside of any moral talk, there are 2 major issues that I constantly have to face.”
These are the words that J placed in my hears in the first of our 11,083 discussions about the problematic side of his himo lifestyle.
“Scheduling and Sex. Most of these women want to meet on Fridays or Saturdays. But my biggest clients usually want to meet on these days and typically can’t commit until the last minute. So I am constantly pressed for excuses as to why I can’t meet people on these days, and then if none of my big clients take the weekend bait, I am either screwed for one of my biggest money-making nights of the week, or stuck apologizing to one of my other clients as I crawl back to them.”
I honestly can’t count the number of times I had to hear him complain about scheduling. He always seemed to work out a new system for scheduling, and something always happened causing it to fall through. And then, there were the sex talks…
“And sex… You just know that at one point or another, she is going to want sex. And the sex… oh the sex is a double edged sword my friend. A real balancing act. Simply put, there is a trend. The longer I manage to hold out sex, the more gifts I get, and the more time and money they put into me in hopes of it. But if I hold out too long, they eventually give up all hope and stop wanting to see me. And once they have finally gotten the sex, things get… well… awkward. They start forgetting to pay, and I conveniently forget to mention anything about it. I honestly just don’t want their money afterwords. And so they either gradually fade away and we lose contact, or they suddenly think that we are in a relationship, and well… that never ends well. So, sex… costs me clients.”
J hated losing clients. And when I say that he hated it, I am wildly understating the point. J would go into a funk for days after losing a client, and this funk more often than not, caused him to lose one or two more additional clients.
He always said that it was the loss of the client that bothered him, but I’d be willing to put good money on the fact that he was struggling to convince himself that he was not engaging in, well…. prostitution.
“I’m not taking money from these Japanese women for sex, so I am not prostituting”
That was his logic. And no matter what anyone said, he always defended himself with that point.
Eventually it got to a point where he didn’t even need to convert students. Women found J.
He came home late one Tuesday night full of energy and alcohol.
“So I was sitting in the park reading when this Japanese woman into her 40′s comes up and starts asking me all the typical gaijin questions. Her English was shit, but before long we were talking in Japanese and out of nowhere she smiles and tells me that she wants to take me out for dinner. So after 10 more minutes of blah blah blah, we walk out of the park and head for a restaurant. Not only did she pay for dinner and 2 bottles of wine, but as I went to get on the train she slipped me 10,000 yen (about $100)! Considering the time I spent with her, it’s lower than what I usually take in, but shit man… she came up to me!”
And so it began. This particular Japanese woman was the first of many who would somehow follow in her path in the months (and years?) to come…
In our late night talks, J always shared what he called the Incredibly Shallow Quotes of the Week with me.
I was always dumbfounded by the stuff these women would say to him.
Some of the weekly winners include:
You are the best accessory I have ever put money into!
I want the b#$% next-door to see me with a foreigner.
Having a white guy beside me helps show people just how smooth and white my skin really is!
You should bring some of your white friends so it looks like I know a lot of foreigners!
And my personal favorite:
Gucci on my left, gaijin on my right. I’m hot today!
J would always talk about how you can’t change the culture or the habits of an entire country, but you can capitalize on it and turn it into something good, or at least something profitable.
Despite all of J’s money and (success?) with his lifestyle, he was surprisingly jaded and negative when it came to Japanese people. He even got a custom shirt made with the words “The deepest part of a Japanese person is their wallet” printed on it.
I guess money doesn’t always buy happiness (cliche enough for ya?).
I always enjoyed the irony of a guy who took money from women in exchange for spending time with them, talking about how shallow and pretentious people can be. There was something poetic about the whole situation.
After about a year of living with J, I moved out. But that wasn’t before hearing some of the most amazing stories that I have ever had the opportunity to hear in my entire life~
J and I don’t talk anymore, but I think back to him from time to time.
Gotta wonder what J is doing right about now…