Now Wash Your Hands

There has long been a trend of reporting on Japan that selects and spins niche, non-news stories to contribute to a collaborative caricature of “Weird Japan”. One popular pastime is to point at sexual perversions – where many “perversions” are merely wayward of Western norms, presented absent acknowledgement or awareness of the imperfections in how we all cope with sex the world over.

What gets less airplay is the everyday sexism and misogyny inherent in much general-interest Japanese media – probably because that aspect deviates from the West far less than we’d like to admit.

But remember: this is the country that gave the world the almost undefinably gentile art of ikebana flower arrangement and the exquisitely tranquil tea ceremony. So I always hesitate to pass judgment on Japan’s apparently problematic pop-cultural output without opportunity for a thorough discussion of cultural, social, historical and artistic context.

But in this game you try to piss a woman’s clothes off.

I don’t mean you try to anger her clothes. I mean you try to remove them by urinating.

I don’t mean you control a character whom you make urinate. I mean you yourself urinate into an actual toilet. With your own real urine.

Fans of the Yakuza series may have seen this game in that virtual Tokyo. But it is a real game. Really.

Here’s how it goes: a typhoon’s coming and a weather reporter is out on the streets, updating TV news on the onset of the storm. Her hair sways gently in the breeze. Her skirts swing lazily and fall leaves scutter around the road. Begin urinating.

The wind picks up. Oh dear, her hair will get untidy! Adds a little humour to the report, perhaps! Probably time to wrap up before the rain hits. Continue urinating.

The wind get stronger. The woman is now visibly distressed. She needs to hold her skirts to stop them blowing up on national television. She is clearly embarrassed. Continue urinating.

The wind quickly builds to a roar. Trees bow to buckling. She desperately jams her skirts between her thighs so that only the sides will billow to shoulder height. In doing so, she sacrifices control of her cleavage. Torn up and violently whipped away by the hurricane are roadsigns, cars, local wildlife, and this crying woman’s dignity. Continue urinating.

And so on.

And thus a budding journalist is traumatised, and taught that her years of study and proven meteorological knowledge count for far less than the physical characteristics that viewers nearly – just nearly, if we hope with all our hearts – might see if she’s caught off guard.

In summary, Sega Toylets involves attempting to lift or otherwise disturb the attire of a female meteorologist by pissing into a urinal.

The only thing I can say in its favour is that a men’s toilet in a stinking arcade is the least inappropriate place for it to be installed.


Photographer and writer covering Tokyo arcade life – the videogames, the metropolis and the people