Thanks to the Internet and improved distribution channels, there seems to be very little Japanese product not making its way over to the West these days. And for the melon pan, Pocky, panko bread crumbs, and Mitsuya cider that Japan provides to United States, America sends its hottest items in return:

1. The Game by Neil Strauss.

The English subtitle is “Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists” as if rock critic Strauss is less interested in the techniques of hitting on girls and more interested in the sociology/psychology of those wielding the know-how. The Japanese subtitle, on the other hand, is pretty explicit in the book’s intention: 「退屈な人生を変える究極のナンパバイブル」(The Ultimate Pickup Bible for Changing Your Boring Life). Now I am sure many British and American guys have successfully deployed the pickup chicanery featured in the narrative, but the Japanese marketing cuts to the chase and sells a bit of life-changing snake oil.

I don’t, however, see the implementation of The Game being so smooth in the Japanese social scene. Based on what I skimmed from Nick Sylvester’s controversial Voice cover story, most of The Game™ involves approaching women and asking them ridiculous questions like, “My friend wants to buy a rare endangered mongoose that kills lawn snakes, and we want to get a female opinion on it” in order to start up a conversation. This works well in the Western-style standard pub or bar, where you have large groups of people milling around in loose formation. Popping your head into closed-off izakaya silos to ask such a question, on the other hand, would invite mostly blank stares.

The classic way to meet girls in Japan is goukon(合コン)where a multiple number of men pre-arrange a group date with an equal number of women. The Game™ would give no advantages in this setting since girls are already provided. Japanese men could use these techniques to pick up girls on the street or in tachinomi bars, but maybe it is The Game™’s second-stage tactics that have more cultural crossover. My guess is that dating advice is contingent on environmental factors. I just can’t place the American sleazy smugness of asking an unfamiliar girl “Do you wanna kiss me?” in this particular climate.

2. 1 Night In Paris

For a while, the CanCam-type, OL-targeted “good girl” fashion magazines in Japan tried to make Paris Hilton into a young feminine rich fashion hero, and more than one Louis Vuitton-wearing, chapatsu girl I know (with ambitions of becoming a TV announcer) was a big fan. What a fun blonde lifestyle! Jetting around the world! Celebrity! Paris has a pet chihuahua, which automatically puts her close to the hearts of many young, single Japanese women with unconscious status-aspiration. Females outside of the mainstream plurality, however, would repeatedly tell me that Paris Hilton struck them as being “不潔” (unclean), although revelations of her vulgarity did not seem to be appearing in the Japanese media. They just had good intuition.

But on the NEW shelves at your local friendly Tsutaya: 1 Night in Paris, the infamous leaked sex tape. No Internet trading for the Japanese — the DVD is right next to copies of Pierrot le fou at mainstream video rental stores. Hoorah for America 2004.

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

18 Responses

  1. Adamu Says:

    Wait, you mean to tell me that the actual night-vision sex tape is on Tsutaya shelves? That is amazing, even if the genitalia *are* blurred out. That should come as a shock to most Japanese fans who are more familiar with her image on The Simple Life, which is apparently dubbed on the Japanese Fox cable channel.

  2. marxy Says:

    The backcover seemed to show a lot of graphic pictures that were not night-vision. I don’t know the details of the tape to really give you much comparison. But, yes, it is weird that the tape has mainstream distro in Japan.

  3. nate Says:

    marxy, have you ever been on a goukon?

  4. marxy Says:

    I don’t think I actually have been on a formal goukon.

  5. nate Says:

    seems like none of the regulars around here would have. Part of that “distanced from the ordinary lives of ordinary people” vibe that most of the level-headed commentators on japan have… that sadly opens the door to less level headed people with less experience to postulate and attribute wildle.

    I have the feeling that a gaijin wouldn’t typically be invited along on a goukon unless it were explicitly a group of japanese girls and a group of at least mostly foreign boys. Anyone got a counter example in their experience?

  6. marxy Says:

    Anyone got a counter example in their experience?

    I was promised inclusion at a couple of goukon, but I ended up meeting someone before I got around to being contacted by the guys involved. I wouldn’t say there is anti-foreign sentiment in the lack of goukon invitations: I don’t really hang out with goukon-types to start with. Do you?

  7. Brown Says:

    Personally, the only guys I know who do goukon are recently married. I guess this makes them more suave than older generation, who pay for extra-marital action outright.

  8. Adamu Says:

    London Hearts is a decent approximation of the real thing. They are kind of lame, and in both of the cases when I attended one the conversation almost exclusively focused on my amazing Japanese. If you want to meet the most generically boring young Japanese girls around, it’s a safe bet they are goukon-ing it up somewhere this weekend.

  9. nate Says:

    my point wasnt that I’m eager to join in one, nor that there’s anti-foreign sentiment… just that it’S something were not really privy to. Adamu having been on one is interesting, but yeah, if those were the results, I can see why gaijin dudes arent necessarily welcome on them.

    but since this blog and the commenters tend to focus on life on the street, and consumption patterns (except when it veers toward sixties radicalism), the offhand disdain for and lack of experience with this institution among others is a just another blind spot.

    thanks to r. though, prostitution’s always a banging topic.

  10. r. Says:


  11. Slim Says:

    Here is some good “advice” on picking up Japanese girls, especially busy ones, as written by some guy who can’t spell. It’s kind of a different approach, but in my experience, this kind of stuff actually works in Japan. Unfortunately it wasn’t really my style: my style was just going to bars and going home/hotel with random chicks. Anyway…the pick-up advice:

    you cannot be so direct. You have got to just keep dropping hints. Let me give you some of my lines to git’n it on with OL’s


    (you cant avoid this but point is “to avoid” it

    HINT: “Im going to go to the eminem concert YIPEE!!”

    HINT: tell them about the kewl stuff (non-incriminating) that you do “I was at the club dancing and EVERYBODY was looking at me” < bragging.

    Use their weaknesses against them. “I’m going clothes shopping; I wish I could get your opinion too. What kind of glasses do you like?”

    “Im at the DanceHall concert in Yoyogi right now. What are you doing?” <<< note your NOT ASKING THEM OUT!

    “WoW. Your so busy. I wish I was busy like you [BS]. Your work sounds like you like it [Sarcasm but they will never know it]”

    LAST BUT BEST: “You have to eat; You have to sleep; Those are both things we can do together. Let my take you to this fashionable cafe I found”

    You have to look at it like this:

    Its like fishing. Not like North America where you have to hunt.
    You are like a flashy shiny lure in Japan and you must get their attention and tease them so the gulp you in one bite.
    They need time to size you up and see if you look good. Then once they think you are safe they will bite.

  12. marxy Says:

    Tell it to Neil Strauss. I am merely interested in the application of Western pickup techniques in a non-Western country.

  13. Slim Says:

    If applied, ineffective.

  14. Lex Says:

    I really think that there is only one way to know for sure, and that is to try it! Apply the scientific process and find out yourself :P

    The goukan concept really seems like “settling” to me, but I guess I always picture goukan types to be really, really average, like you said..

  15. nate Says:

    to be fair, they do use the word nanpa in the title, which would normally exclude goukon. Japan is likewise full of nanpa guides, and very few “how to win at goukon” books.

    maybe we should all fake being goukon gods, put together a mediocre book and get all over the teevee.

  16. Adamu Says:

    you should probably spell it goukOn because goukAn means rape in Japanese

  17. Joe Says:

    Best advice I’ve gotten yet, from a co-worker:

    “When I take a girl out, I always take her to a really nice restaurant. It’s not because I want to impress her–it’s because I want to focus on the food so I can tune her out while she babbles on about boring crap.”

  18. lacadutadegiganti Says:

    Just finished The Game and found it to be pretty damn funny. Where else are you going to read about Courtney love making a refreshing fruit drink by mixing it with her grimy black hands and dropping cigarette ashes into it. Or that Paris Hilton, when asked to picture a cube in the desert, sees a pink “hotel-sized” cube.

    Really, I can’t imagine anyone taking this book as other than pure comedy. It certainly paints the PUA (“pick-up artist”) lifestyle as one of unrelieved, herpes-afflicted grimness. But would the Japanese believe the sophistic whimsey peddled by the workshop gurus? With a soup ladle! I mean, a fortune teller is a major talento in Japan at the moment, for God’s sake. And of course fortune tellers – and hypnotists and psychics and PUA-workshop gurus and any number of other ne’er-do-wells – all drink from the same well.

    There are a lot of quite gullible folks in Japan, easy prey for hucksters, the fetid lifestyles of which The Game describes