Thank god for that little button that says "email" which can be found at the end of every article on the Internet these days. If it weren't for that little button, this Japanese say good bye to Western playboys article would not have found its way across my desk. After a quick snicker to myself over which Heartland-frequenting investment banker acquaintances I would send it to as a heads up and which strong Western sisters I would send it to as a gleeful hurrah, I began to ponder whether Japanese women are as calculating as this article makes them out to be. If this article is anything to go by, forget the Keizai Shinbun, we can just examine the habits of Japanese gaijin-hunters to understand where the economy is going!
According to the article, the numbers of Japanese women who go to Heartland in Roppongi to bag themselves a finance man and join the elite legion of the Hills Tribe are declining. I first heard the term "Hill Tribe" when I came back to Tokyo a couple years ago and was catching up with an ex. We had both been students at the time we were together and two years later I had become a student again while he was embarking on an unexpected journey to become an investment banker (when we were both students he had planned to go back to Africa and win a Nobel prize). He told me about the firm he was slated to begin working at the following spring and of the high-flying world of money he had glimpsed during the string of extravagant welcome parties held for new employees. After completing a couple degrees in Japan as a poor struggling student, he was ready to join the Hills Tribe, he said. The Hills Tribe, or Hills-zoku, is an exclusive and proportionately small number of Tokyo residents who live in the Roppongi Hills complex. While drinking beers next to the pond in Yoyogi Park, we joked about decorating ideas for his future glamorous-life bathroom.
Yes, if there are no predatory Japanese women flocking in from the suburbs to prey on successful foreign men, it will certainly be the decline of "Roppongi romance", a term used in the article to refer to what I like to call "Roppongi romps". Last time I checked, there wasn't anything romantic happening anywhere with a Roppongi address, unless you consider the coupling of foreign men sporting insatiable appetites for Japanese girls with said girls, albeit possibly STD-ridden, romantic. What do I know though? I'm just the Kaisha Geisha. Maybe the "breed" of girls is different between Gaspanic and Heartland, but I'd say the motive is essentially the same. It's the GMS. The Get Money Syndrome. Male readers, if there are any out there, what say you?
I had always thought professional women went to Heartland too, I was always able to spot at least a few when there, but the article contends that most of them are girls from the 'burbs looking for a white prince to whisk them away from nail salon jobs and cohabitation with their parents. But in light of the recent market crash, these women are becoming more discriminating than ever. A couple of the women interviewed for the article disliked the cheap sheen of the suits worn by the two men buying them drinks and doubted whether they were actually bankers, or cheap salaryman knock-offs, or worse yet, IT consultants.
To lend some legitimacy to the article and allow it to be based on more than the tipsy opinions of a couple Roppongi hussies, Mariko Bando, "one of Japan's authorities on gender issues", was consulted. Of the young ladies' behaviour, she says that it is not just about gold digging but "about finding a more attractive style of relationship". Oh well OK then. Props to her for admitting their gold diggin' tendencies but what is this nonsense about a more attractive style of relationship? I think she means a more attractive wardrobe and place of residence. I imagine looking down at the huge rock on your finger while getting your nails done would be more attractive than being on the other side of that salon counter. A more attractive lifestyle yes, but relationship? Not so much. If you read to the bottom of the article, an ex-Hillite is interviewed and admits to making her friends come over so that she can make them jealous with her marble floors. Nowhere does it say anything about her making them jealous with her strapping white boyfriend. Oops, I guess she was blinded by all the gold that she forgot all about who it was that introduced her to this shiny new world.
Don't despair yet boys, for Bando assures us that although the interest in foreign finance men will decline, foreign men on the whole will still appeal to Japanese women, "even the poor ones". Poor foreign men that is. Who knows, let's keep watching the market, this could be the best thing to hit male English teachers in a long time! More women from the suburbs! According to Bando Japanese women will still prefer poor white guys to regular Japanese guys any day, because Japanese men are mamas boys who don't know how to treat their women. Just when I thought this woman was sending a verbal jab to Western men, she gets pedestrian and attacks Japanese men because that hasn't been done enough recently. I expected more insightful comments from one of Japan's leading experts on gender issues but she has simply reiterated the old foreign men are charming princes and Japanese men are lazy and poor salarymen song and dance. She's probably married to a white guy.
I would be the first to admit that there are a fair share of undesirable Japanese men, but I am so tired of hearing them get put down by foreigners and Japanese women too, who seem to have chugged that kool-aid. How many 'burb girls after being initiated into the Hills Tribe found themselves up high on the Hill on a Friday night, looking out the window at Tokyo tower and waiting for their prince to come home, while said prince was thirty floors down at Heartland literally charming the pants off another girl from Kawasaki?
Maybe we are saying goodbye to the Western playboy in this era of financial uncertainty. Is this such a bad thing though? Sure Heartland may go under if it no longer serves the purpose of hooking up Japanese women and investment bankers, but I'd personally like to see a less money-concerned Tokyo community, where style and good food are still fabulous, but people treat each other with more respect - less animosity between foreign men and women, and less groundless bashing of Japanese men and women. After reading through what I've written though, I'm not sure whether I'm in a position to say that.