Lost in translation. Really, really lost.

I’ve been back in New York long enough to stop thinking it seems kind of slow in comparison to Tokyo and love the city again, but still fascinated with the culture.  H is still there for another month or so, so I just sent him a list of Japanese terms I learned from the outstanding book Tabloid Tokyo, a collection of stories from Japanese weekly and monthly magazines, sort of pulp non-fiction.  Not judging, but wow, is there some weird stuff here. I particularly enjoy how such bizarre and complex terms can be summed up so neatly.

panchira: fetish for checking out chick’s underpants
burusera: special store for buying chick’s underpants and other unmentionables (used, ideally)
kappuru kissa: literally “couples’ coffee shop”, really a swinger’s club, also see “happening bars”
getekyaba: hostess club full of hideous/odd women, kyaba: cabaret, no English equivalent for gete “think of something both weird and sleazy but conducted with gusto” is the excellent explanation given
yobai: literally “night crawling”, explained as a common fantasy/plotline “to steal into a house to see a woman under cover of night” for peeping or more sinister activities
aribai-ya: alibi service, agency that (for one example) provides fake actors to play parents of female sex worker so she can appear respectable to boyfriend and his family
no-pan kissa: coffee shop with mirrored floors and pantyless waitresses
image club: fantasy club were you can pretend to be a naughty schoolboy or whatever
deriheru: literally “delivery health”, health meaning sex, “if she goes to your place, it’s not prostitution” says amazing Japanese logic
Dutch wives: sex dolls, box will arrive with the stamp kenko kigu (health apparatus)
soapland: massage parlor
Watakano: island of prostitutes, two hours from Nagoya
Loulan: shabu shabu restaraurant in Shinjuku that has “no-pan” (no pants) waitresses. Really, this is a thing.
chikan: men who enjoy groping women in public places, article in book details particular challenges and attractions for said activity in winter
ore-ore: means “It’s me,” type of fraud where criminals extort money pretending to be their child
Zamancho: nickname for a man who “clones” people (basically commits identity theft), name is a contraction for “slovenly company president”
atari-ya: professional accident victim who jumps in front of cars and shakes the drivers down for money

mikoroshi: book defines it as “a delightful Japanese word meaning ‘to stand idly by while another dies.'”

yonige-ya: literally “a fly-by-nighter,” service that help people disappear in the middle of the night, say, to flee debts or leave an abusive spouse

parasite couple/singles: people still living with, and off of, their parents, well after they should have left home
tsuchinkoko: Japanese mythical creature, like snake but thicker
yamanba: literally “mountain hag,” bizarre street fashion trend in Shibuya characterized by bleached hair, panda faced makeup
eropuri: contraction of erotic and print, phenomenon of young teen girls taking naked pictures of themselves in photobooths (purikura).
Ideal is to look erokawaku (erotic cute), which could be said for a lot of Japanese street fashion
yamesaseya: professionals who specialized in making people quit by putting workers in a “restructure box” so that you leave your job and the company can restructure.  Basically the “box” has nothing in it: no phones, no computers, no work; a corporate “solitary confinement.” Sounds like Milton in Office Space.
saboru: goofing off on company time, derived from sabotage.

That is just a taste of this wonderous book.  You can probably find a lot of these articles (they all come from English-language Japanese newspapers) by Googling the terms, but it should really be read in its entierty.

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