For months, I brewed on the idea of having a cuddle party in Tokyo. I wanted to bring the culture of platonic LOVE and touch to Japan, I wanted to CREATE THE PARTY THAT I NEEDED SO BADLY! In America, where I am from, Cuddle Parties are popular enough to be on daytime television talk shows and the idea of being a professional cuddler is not a crazy thing. Even in Tokyo, the FREE HUGS concept has caught on in Shibuya with the original FREE HUGS Daichi pioneering the concept and now several other (almost always men) can be seen setting up similar FREE HUG stations in Shibuya Hachiko Square. That TOKYO IS A LONELY PLACE is not a radical concept.
Japanese culture is one that does not show affection openly, even among family and friends of the older generation, but the Millenial generation of Japan seem to be ready to change this, as the older generation is consistently shown on the media dying in small apartments alone and unnoticed and the suicide rate of Japan is ranked #2 in the world to South Korea. My mother is Japanese, and I hardly ever hug or touch her. I hug many of my immediate family members, but they just aren’t huggers, they do it for me. When I tried to reach out and hug my cousin and Uncle (on different days) to thank them for sponsoring my visa, they put up their hands to block my arms from going around them (coincidentally in exactly the same karate defense way, they were father and son after all) I tried to brainstorm the idea of starting a bi-lingual PLATONIC CUDDLE PARTY in Tokyo, but the more that I pitched the idea to others the feedback I was getting was that Japanese people could not separate sex from cuddling because touch was so rare. It is similar to the way that American and other men cannot separate sex from women’s nipple exposure. When societal norms keeps something from you for so long, it can be hard for you to adjust to the novelty of it when it is offered freely to you. The popular catch phrase Japanese have come to believe about themselves that they also constantly tell to others is “We are too Shy.” They are too shy to talk to strangers, too shy to speak English, too shy to have confidence or courage when it comes to dating, too shy to even ride a bicycle it seems like, according to their description. I don’t actually believe this. I almost hate hearing this one as much as I hate hearing “Japan is so organized.” The shy moniker is a way to amicably downplay the oppressive social structure that they are controlled by, IMO. Japanese society is largely controlled by in and out groupings which is conditioned into them from kindergarten to the corporate office. Doing something out in the open that is not seen as popular to the masses can result in ostracism from work, family and possible bullying which would be allowed to continue under the eyes of their superiors, teachers, even the police. I started a English Lessons by karaoke meetup a few months ago, I thought it was going to the biggest hit of the century in Tokyo, like the idea of having a cuddle party. It wasn’t. Barely 1 or 2 people signed up in 3 months and the few people that did sign up didn’t keep in touch or come back. This meetup was supposed to be the safe litmus test for me to see if a radical concept in Tokyo would take off using meetup as the main promotion tool. I am not about to stand on a street corner and pass out pocket tissues. I am now thinking of possibly setting up a cuddling blanket in Yoyogi Park. I am scheming a lot of things to make this happen finally, because I do in my heart believe that Japan wants and needs this, but the fact that my karaoke English meetup failed did contribute greatly to me totally hitting the brakes on my momentum to launch new ideas and concepts in Tokyo. It really depressed me. Learning English and singing karaoke are two proven passions that the Japanese population pays money to improve or indulge in, but I couldn’t get anyone to join my meetup. In my Japan life, I often get to a place of dire need for human interaction, sometimes I just break the space and start to do radical things like talk to strangers at the night club that I am dancing at. Ohayogozaimasu! I say to everyone at 3am, I smile and send love from my heart chakra to the crowd and to the people around me. I trusted that spirit would lead me others who would be willing to share positive energy with me. This worked well 2 weeks ago. It was something of a performance art and a social experiment. I went home with a happy and satisfied heart, but I went home alone, which was okay. I was happy that I was able to interact in a non sexual loving way with so many people, that would normally never say a word to me at this club this night. People, Japanese included can surprise you by not living up to their own self impressions.