Trash or treasure? Finding Gray in the Pink

When I found pages and pages torn from ‘pink’ magazines littered and spread out and open wide for all to see on the side of the main road this morning, I was led to ask the above question. I didn’t know whether to pick them all up to keep the streets ‘clean’ for the packs of Jr. High School students that I eyed further up ahead. But then, if they saw me getting off my bike to collect up these revealing pages, would I be exposing myself as an object of the typical gai-jin, giving them some laughs to add to their image of an unusual foreigner?

I picked up a few, in time to stuff them in my pocket un-noticed. I remembered when the big “Man’s Omocha-ya”(man’s toystore) opened across the street from where I live, and how I thought I’d have to move. Then somehow, the bright yellow billboard-sized sign advertising toys for men just blended in with the rest of the convenient stores and chains that have been on the rise in our residential neighborhood.

A few years ago, Don Quixote opened. The first time I walked in I couldn’t help noticing how the cosplay costumes and colorful tiny lingerie at discount prices were lined up next to the children’s pajamas. I swore I’d never take my daughter, who was then in kindergarten, there. Meanwhile, now she is ten years old and “Don-key” is her favorite place to buy stationary and shampoo items.

In Japan, adult items and magzines can be readily found in places where children and young adults can easily see them. I am beginning to get used to this, and find myself judging it less. Is it that when we are exposed to something long enough, we get used to it? Or, am I beginning to see that having things out in the open and incorporated into mass culture is a freedom that doesn’t necessarily need to be un-healthy.

I un-crumple those torn pages, pretty sure that what may be trash to one person is most probably considered to be another man or woman’s treasure.

What do you think about the open display of adult graphic materials in Japan?