Tuesday, August 19, 2008

On exchanging yen for arm hair

The beau recently related a story to me told to him by one of his customers. I don't know why I am still surprised at what his customers will tell him, or how readily people in this country will admit to paying for sex, platonic companionship and everything in between.

This particular customer was recently in the States on business and as he had never been with a non-Japanese woman before, some of his young Japanese underlings at the stateside office hired in a woman. The details on what kind of sex-worker she actually was are unclear. As are the details of whether there was any sex taking place and whether it was the woman and this whole group of curious Japanese men or some other arrangement. Disappointing I know and I have already berated the beau for not pumping more details out of his loose-mouthed customer.

The main gist of the story was how the man was fascinated with this woman's body hair and its upkeep or lack thereof in some places. Apparently this guy was just riveted that the woman had arm hair. And that there was some grooming and possibly even a dye job happening south of the belly button. See, the beau explained to a non-plussed me, look at your arms: the hairs are blond so you can't see them but when you touch them, look! you have hair! The same with legs if you have light coloured hair. I basically came away from the story with the idea that these Japanese guys paid to have an anatomy lesson and some curious touching. I also began to wonder if I could get paid to surprise people with my curiously invisible arm hair.

I long ago learned the power in my arm hair. I have a Japanese friend who is a little younger and whenever we are together she latches on to my arm and strokes it. The first time she did this I thought her a little strange and the second time, that she was implying I have hairy arms. It was only when she showed me her arms and told me mine felt great, did I understand. Japanese women shave their arms!! I have some non-Japanese friends with really dark hair who remove hair in places you wouldn't expect, but Japanese women's hair can't be that coarse even if it isn't invisible. That said, it is a rare occasion that I see a Japanese woman without silky smooth hairless arms. So yes, add that to another thing on my list of things to be neurotic about only in Japan. I find myself holding on to the overhead train strap some days only to start wondering if my arms are too hairy and whether I should just shave them.

So hair upkeep is certainly different here and...elsewhere. Arms are shaved and pubic hair left alone. In fact, I only know of 2 or 3 places in Tokyo that even offer waxing services. Elsewhere pubic hair is either styled or eliminated and arm hair is generally allowed to flourish. Slightly off topic but has any one else seen their share of women wearing panty hose over a small patch of very long shin hair?! That is not a look I plan to emulate, shaved arms or not.

After the arm prostitute story I asked the beau if he had gloated and told the customer he got to touch a foreigner on a regular basis and had all the free invisible arm hair he could possibly ask for. My question was met with a slightly unsure yes. Maybe I should start charging.

1 comment:

Pam said...

I remember freaking out over arm hair in Japan. Never really think about it anymore.
It's weird to read through your blog and see how little has apparently changed since I was a 20-something foreign woman in Japan about, um, 20 years ago.
I used to think attitudes there were obviously going to change over time. I mean, I was a white woman fluent in Japanese! Wouldn't I and others like me change everything?
Yeah, right.