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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Book Review: Ero Samurai


Ero Samurai, by David Duff

The subtitle of this work just about says it all: "An Obsessed Man's Loving Tribute to Japanese Women."

ero-samuraiEx-Marine, former dope dealer, and current English-teaching, softball-playing (and apparently married) current long-time resident of Kyoto, David Duff has no fear. What some would say among friends, perhaps at a bar, in private, he has immortalized with his tome Ero Samurai.

It is no secret that one of the reason many (men) find Japan attractive is because of the women. From the Dutch at Dejima down to Duff-san, many a Western man has found the long black hair, the brown skin, and oval eyes hard to resist.

It is also no secret among those long resident in Japan that Japanese women are by no means weak; outside of politics and business, much of Japanese life is controlled by women. "Elegant, ladylike, and imposing they are; obedient they aren't," notes Duff.

Duff then takes us on his personal journey--footnoted with quotes from Shinran and Heian Monogatari, James Michener and Boye de Mente, and countless others--from young grunt to middle-aged white man closing in on nirvana in modern-day Kyoto.

This book, however, would cause angry protests outside of its publisher's offices were it published in any other country. For starters, women's groups would decry it as sexist and paternalistic. In his list of 29 reasons why he loves Kyoto, #27: "Kyoto girls scream and holler joyously when you give them the big weenie."


Worse, though, is the racism in the same list. Reading the book, one suspects: white guy of a certain age who is a little bit bitter about things in the US, maybe having trouble getting laid and making money, moves to Japan, and is now a "big man" teaching English and regaling co-eds with nonsense. In the same list, at the end of the book, those reasons become all too clear:

#8 "no black or hispanic gangbangers";

#15 "Anglo-Saxons treated with respect."

While both of these are true--trust me, there are no black gangbangers in Kyoto--they are breathtaking in their racism and underlying sense of superiority.

As a paean to Kyoto and its women, Duff has his puerile points. A more clear eyed look, though, at Kyoto as a whole would find among other things: racism (towards Koreans and Burakumin and foreigners); concrete and telephone wires everywhere; a high percentage of elderly people (post-sexual, in Duff's reckoning); a corrupt political culture; and, yes, many beautiful women.

In addition, a more clear eyed look at Japanese women would discuss among other topics the prevalence of sexless marriages, the Japanese mother, the ubiquity of pornography, the sheer size of the sex industry--and, yes, the many attractive talented woman.

On a final note, one suspects there was little if any editing work done.

Ero Samurai: Buy this book from Amazon
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