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Otaku in Love
July 23, 2009 10:53 AM   Subscribe

"Nisan didn’t mean to fall in love with Nemutan. Their first encounter -- at a comic-book convention that Nisan’s gaming friends dragged him to in Tokyo -- was serendipitous. Nisan was wandering aimlessly around the crowded exhibition hall when he suddenly found himself staring into Nemutan’s bright blue eyes... 'I’ve experienced so many amazing things because of her,' Nisan told me, rubbing Nemutan’s leg warmly. 'She has really changed my life.' Nemutan doesn’t really have a leg. She’s a stuffed pillowcase — a 2-D depiction of a character, Nemu, from an X-rated version of a PC video game called Da Capo." The New York Times' Lisa Katayama on "2-D lovers" in Japan, the latest outgrowth of otaku subculture.
posted by digaman (166 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
DT2DMFA.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:55 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


God, that's so fucking sad.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:56 AM on July 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Everyone needs a hug.
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:57 AM on July 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


People are really, really, really weird.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:58 AM on July 23, 2009


"In Akihabara, we don't need to be ashamed of who we are and what we like," he said. "We can feel comfortable because here, we outnumber everyone else."

"At other cafes, waitresses greet patrons at the door with a curtsy and the words "Welcome home, master."

Oh I think you DO have something to be ashamed of, little Otaku-san. Little Nerdboy lost in the futurama-san of modern Tokyo.

Now scurry home, scurry home to your pillowcase. Welcome home, Master!
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 10:59 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


If one gets too faded and dirty from overuse, he layers a new one over it.
posted by gurple at 11:00 AM on July 23, 2009


You know... I sleep alone, and I've got one of these body pillows that I wrap my arm around.

I've also gotten minor crushes on comic book characters.

But this... even without the PedoBear aspect (not that that should be overlooked), it's just beyond the pale. If this man brought his pillow into a restaurant where I was eating, I'd have to leave.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:03 AM on July 23, 2009


I was thinking the other day that in absence of having ever actually visited Japan, it might be easy for me to come to the conclusion, going only by the articles I read in the newspaper, that the entire country is populated by sexually repressed basement dwellers devouring enormous amounts of child-porn anime. Articles like this don't help much.
posted by jokeefe at 11:06 AM on July 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


> If he ever does find true three-dimensional love, Nisan said, he hopes that his wife will accept Nemutan for who she is: “She is my life’s work. I would be devastated if that was taken away from me.”

Not, I would think, an issue.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:06 AM on July 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


That poor pillowcase.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:06 AM on July 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Mostly sad. A little ew. Also: people are fascinating.
posted by everichon at 11:06 AM on July 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Momo, who makes X-rated body-pillow covers and sells them through his one-man club, Youkouro, which translates roughly as Furnace of Child Love

OK, that's fucked up as a football bat.
posted by jquinby at 11:07 AM on July 23, 2009 [60 favorites]


Metafilter: We should begrudge his happiness.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:07 AM on July 23, 2009 [8 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the plot mechanics of certain anime would forgive, nay, require public pillowfights should the wrong characters cross paths.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:07 AM on July 23, 2009 [8 favorites]


Everyone needs a hug a slap with a rolled up newspaper.

FTFY
posted by tommasz at 11:07 AM on July 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


I'm going to bookmark this article and read it every time I feel bad about myself. I can read it and go "Hey, at least I'm not using perverted pillow case images of anime characters to fill a romantic void in my life!"
posted by hellojed at 11:09 AM on July 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


I envision a utopia in which there will be one woman for every man. A fantasy, you say? Maybe so! But I can dream. And while I dream, I will bury my head in my life sized girlfriend pillow.
posted by nervousfritz at 11:09 AM on July 23, 2009


Umm... why are all the inanimate lovers under THIRTEEN years old?
posted by lucasks at 11:10 AM on July 23, 2009


I don't judge people.

I just fear them for how weird and sad they are.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:10 AM on July 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


This makes the Real Doll folks look like the epitomes of sexual normality.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:12 AM on July 23, 2009 [10 favorites]


I was intrigued, grossed out and then worried.

We have a Japanese Anime character who lives with us and I talk to her under the covers. She's a very cute animal character, a Cabbit. A cross between a cat and a rabbit. VERY cute. Very, very cute.

Uh-oh. I too am disturbed.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:12 AM on July 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


And people wonder why white guys do so well for themselves, romantically-speaking, in Japan...
posted by you just lost the game at 11:12 AM on July 23, 2009


It's like some sick form of Linus and his security blanket, only developmentally delayed until active libido gets entangled with all the kindergarten stuff.

Seriously, is all of Japan as sexually fucked up as it is portrayed in the media? It seems that, whether it's outsiders reporting or simply perusing what they themselves create, there must be something really really wrong. I try actively not to generalize about an entire country, but the evidence continues to mount that I should.
posted by hippybear at 11:12 AM on July 23, 2009


I'm not going to judge Nisan, who isn't hurting anybody and has found a harmless way to do... whatever it is he needs to do.

Instead, I am going to point out this day, for eternity, so that in the future when people ask when, exactly, Print Media finally died, we can remember July 23rd, 2009, when the goddamn paper of record printed a story about a dude in Japan who likes to fuck his pillow.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:13 AM on July 23, 2009 [83 favorites]


Nisan means "Big Brother"?

*eyes auto industry warily*
posted by DU at 11:14 AM on July 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Does this technically make them plushies?
posted by Talanvor at 11:14 AM on July 23, 2009


400-thread count pedophile
posted by applemeat at 11:14 AM on July 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


when the goddamn paper of record printed a story about a dude in Japan who likes to fuck his pillow

Check out the story about skinny Manhattanites. This is some critical shit.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:17 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I refuse to believe that my avid pubescent crush on the Boy Wonder -- or rather, on certain astonishing features of his topography -- has any parallel to this distasteful pillow business.
posted by digaman at 11:18 AM on July 23, 2009


According to a government survey, more than a quarter of men and women between the ages of 30 and 34 are virgins; 50 percent of men and women in Japan do not have friends of the opposite sex. One of the biggest best sellers in the country last year was “Health and Physical Education for Over Thirty,” a six-chapter, manga-illustrated guidebook that holds the reader’s hand from the first meeting to sex to marriage.

I think this is the information I found the most surprising. Over 25 percent of people between 30 and 34 in Japan are virgins. That's staggering. Beyond that, this article just made me really sad. I mean, relationships are hard and, more often than not, end badly, but I just can't wrap my head around completely retreating into some sort of fantasy world.
posted by dortmunder at 11:22 AM on July 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


“It’s enlightenment training,” Takuro Morinaga, one of Japan’s leading behavioral economists, told me. “It’s like becoming a Buddha.”

Yes, it's just like traveling the Himalayas in search of teachers and techniques, renouncing all of your wealth and status, undergoing severe asceticism until your perception of the world opens in an instant to include all possible and impossible worlds, and then your subsequent life as a teacher and expounder on the best way to attain and maintain that perception. Just like that, only you're humping a pillow instead.

At least Nisan is opting out of the gene pool (hopefully a permanent choice), so that's good.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:23 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love love, but that's too much.
posted by I love You at 11:23 AM on July 23, 2009


I just can't wrap my head around completely retreating into some sort of fantasy world.

Over 60% of Americans don't believe that evolution is real. The side effects to education, general scientific progress and society in general from this kind of ignorance have been very damaging.

A few Japanese hugging pillows and being emotionally centered in their own worlds doesn't seem so awful, perhaps, in comparison.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:27 AM on July 23, 2009 [33 favorites]



Seriously, is all of Japan as sexually fucked up as it is portrayed in the media? It seems that, whether it's outsiders reporting or simply perusing what they themselves create, there must be something really really wrong. I try actively not to generalize about an entire country, but the evidence continues to mount that I should.


No, of course not. It's just that when people read an article about some German guy cutting off someone's penis, cooking it, and sharing it with him before murdering him, nobody is like "Wow, all Germans must be penis-hungry cannibals."
posted by Comrade_robot at 11:27 AM on July 23, 2009 [9 favorites]


NYT article re skinny Manhattanites.

Blazecock, I just lost a little weight in my brain for having read that.

posted by applemeat at 11:28 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man, that's going to make for some awkward conversations at the laundromat.
posted by Iosephus at 11:29 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nisan means "Big Brother"?

Nisan ≠ Nissan. One means "older brother," the other's a sort of acronym for Nippon Sangyo or "Japan Industries."
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:29 AM on July 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Because of the moral speculation that is probably inevitable in the presence of the sexually weird, it's worth noting that a) Japan's sex crime rates are lower than those of the United States, and b) the liberalization of pornography in Japan has coincided with broad reduction in sex crimes.

It is certainly clear from our data and analysis that a massive increase in available pornography in Japan has been correlated with a dramatic decrease in sexual crimes and most so among youngsters as perpetrators or victims.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:30 AM on July 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


nobody is like "Wow, all Germans must be penis-hungry cannibals."

Speak for yourself.
posted by Cyrano at 11:30 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ishihara maintains a growing collection of 130 life-size pillows of female anime characters -- both purchased and self-designed. His favorite is Mio-chan, a female character from a love-simulation computer game in which a high school boy builds up the courage to ask a girl for a first date.

"There are some people who do lose their grip on reality, but that is not me -- or most of us," said Ishihara, a chubby man with glasses who this year started dating a woman steadily for the first time. She's an anime artist. "For me, the pillows have been my source of unconditional love, a reminder of when I used to be hugged by my parents. There is nothing strange about it."


Sad. Better check that grip there, Ish.

Every time I read an article like this, I think of a Janeane Garofalo line from The Truth About Cats & Dogs: "We can love our pets, we just can't LOVE our pets."
posted by zarq at 11:31 AM on July 23, 2009


Honda argues that romance was marketed so excessively through B-movies, soap operas and novels during Japan’s economic bubble of the ’80s that it has become a commodity and its true value has been lost; romance is so tainted with social constructs that it can be bought by only good looks and money. According to Honda, somewhere along the way, decent men like himself lost interest in the notion entirely and turned to 2-D. “Pure love is completely gone in the real world,” Honda wrote. “As long as you train your imagination, a 2-D relationship is much more passionate than a 3-D one.”

I guess it can be more passionate in the sense that it would be incredibly easy to have a trouble-free relationship with a pillowcase. The pillowcase always wants to do what you want to do, and it doesn't get mad when you drink milk from the carton, or when you sleep with other pillowcases, or even if you abuse your pillowcase physically and emotionally. The pillowcase is "perfect" in the sense that it's completely subservient and powerless, which is clearly why these low-desirability males seem to like them so much. For once, they have power.

I certainly don't care what these sad dudes do in the privacy of their bedrooms, but it's offensive and ridiculous to say "romance is so tainted with social constructs that it can be bought by only good looks and money," and to react to this perceived slight by fucking a pillowcase and calling it a rebellion.

You're just fucking a pillowcase, guys. Don't pretend it's anything more.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:32 AM on July 23, 2009 [8 favorites]


I just can't wrap my head around completely retreating into some sort of fantasy world.

Over 60% of Americans don't believe that evolution is real.


Indeed, a lot more Americans not only have an imaginary boyfriend, but he's:

1) invisible
2) lives in the sky
3) all powerful
4) going to keep you alive after you die

Who's the crazy culture now?
posted by DU at 11:33 AM on July 23, 2009 [21 favorites]




I have this feeling that in Japan there is a message board with stories and comments about how weird it is that American's sleep with their guns.
posted by srboisvert at 11:35 AM on July 23, 2009 [15 favorites]


and also sleep with extra apostrophes just in case.
posted by srboisvert at 11:38 AM on July 23, 2009 [10 favorites]


As strange as the fetish is, it's certainly one of the less harmful ones. Well, aside from the whole "Japan's birth rate is shockingly low and the population is aging rapidly" thing, but that's far bigger than an otaku subculture.

Japan is no more a country entirely of socially awkward and obsessive loners than Britain is a country populated entirely by rampaging hooligans with bad teeth, France a country of beret-wearing chain smokers who are always drinking wine with the Eiffel Tower in the background, Australia an entire nation of Paul Hogans and Steve Irwins, or America a nation of cowboy-hat wearing, 400lb lardasses with a gun in one hand, a Coke in the other, and a Big Mac in their mouth.

As for the otaku? Some people play air guitar, dreaming to be a rock star even if they know it won't happen. Some people rev up the motor on their '87 Camaro, enjoying to pretend they could be a NASCAR racer. These guys surround themselves in their dream world, wishing they could find their idealized-beyond-reality girlfriend who like them in spite of (or even because of) their social awkwardness and lack of hyper-competitive drive in education or career.

It's escapism, and I can't say it's terribly surprising. Of course, some people take their love so far, they want marriage.

On preview: kid ichorous, that gives me an idea. Government crackdown on sex crimes: Mandatory porn for everyone!
posted by Saydur at 11:39 AM on July 23, 2009 [10 favorites]


Honestly, whatever this guy wants to do is fine with me. If he's decided he'd rather check out of the romance scene and have a pillowcase for a girlfriend, more power to him. As long as he's not hurting anyone, and as long as his interactions with real women are respectful*, he can fuck a whole linen closet for all I care.

But seriously: Can someone explain to me why nearly every anime/manga fan I see, either in media like this or in real life, seems to be so woefully socially handicapped? I mean this as a serious question.


*I'm trying very hard to give this guy the benefit of the doubt and assume he can have non-wackjob interactions with flesh-and-blood women. Trying very, very hard indeed.
posted by hifiparasol at 11:40 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]



Indeed, a lot more Americans not only have an imaginary boyfriend, but he's:

1) invisible
2) lives in the sky
3) all powerful
4) going to keep you alive after you die

Who's the crazy culture now?


I feel obligated to point out that people who believe in God actually believe in God. These 2-D lovers know they're fucking a pillow and do it anyway. It's not quite the same.
posted by dortmunder at 11:40 AM on July 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


No, of course not. It's just that when people read an article about some German guy cutting off someone's penis, cooking it, and sharing it with him before murdering him, nobody is like "Wow, all Germans must be penis-hungry cannibals."

When they start selling penis cooking books, make giant cooked penis statues, and there's a sub-culture of American teens that obsess over penis cookbooks I'll start thinking that all Germans are penis-hungry cannibals.
posted by wcfields at 11:41 AM on July 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Over 60% of Americans don't believe that evolution is real. The side effects to education, general scientific progress and society in general from this kind of ignorance have been very damaging.

A few Japanese hugging pillows and being emotionally centered in their own worlds doesn't seem so awful, perhaps, in comparison.


Who said anything about awfulness? It does strike me as more surprising, though, which I suspect is where dortmunder was coming from too.

I mean, science is important. Maybe it's even more important than sex or love — I don't know how you'd quantify that, it seems sort of apples-and-oranges, but let's say for the sake of argument that it is. Even still, if I go a week without contemplating the big bang or macroevolution, I'm just fine thanks. If I swore off science for life, I'd be dumber and probably poorer, but I wouldn't necessarily be less happy.

If I go a week without getting a hug from a real live human being who likes me, I'm goddamn miserable. If I swore off human love for life, I'd recant or jump off a bridge within a month. That's what's strange — not bad, not wrong, not even creepy, just hard for me to understand — about this sort of romantic sour-grapiness.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:42 AM on July 23, 2009


Leave it to an internet asshole to equate religion (and painted with a sloppy, broad brush no less) with pillow humping.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:42 AM on July 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


someone's gotta explain to these people that having your penis in a vagina is possibly the greatest thing in the world.
posted by Mach5 at 11:43 AM on July 23, 2009 [10 favorites]


apologies to the other permutations as i cannot speak for them
posted by Mach5 at 11:44 AM on July 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


Check out the story about skinny Manhattanites. This is some critical shit.

TBH, I prefer it to the Otaku article. At least it's NY relevant, although it's a shame the writer didn't give a deeper sociological analysis than this:
Manhattan is a borough of extreme inequality — in socioeconomic status and obesity rates, which generally correlate. The island’s poorest areas, like Harlem, have high rates of obesity and diabetes, and advocates are working for improved nutritional education and access to healthy foods there. Meanwhile, the borough’s richest swaths have the lowest obesity rates — and, some argue, an obsession with thinness.
Wealthy New Yorkers are obsessed with looking younger and being healthy. There's a decent story here, but they skirted around it.
posted by zarq at 11:45 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I feel obligated to point out that people who believe in God actually believe in God. These 2-D lovers know they're fucking a pillow and do it anyway. It's not quite the same.

So if the 2D lovers thought their pillows had real human feelings, that'd make it less crazy?
posted by DU at 11:45 AM on July 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm sad that Frank Zappa is no longer with us to write a song about this.
posted by dfan at 11:47 AM on July 23, 2009 [9 favorites]


So if the 2D lovers thought their pillows had real human feelings, that'd make it less crazy?

At this point, by going further out on a limb like that, you're just openly trolling.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:47 AM on July 23, 2009


Note to self - when you go to a Japanese home, do not touch anything. Pillow - not safe, vacuum cleaner - not safe, that swordfish on the wall - better not risk it.
posted by qvantamon at 11:50 AM on July 23, 2009


50 percent of men and women in Japan do not have friends of the opposite sex.

Wow, that's staggering.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:51 AM on July 23, 2009


Some people play air guitar, dreaming to be a rock star even if they know it won't happen. Some people rev up the motor on their '87 Camaro, enjoying to pretend they could be a NASCAR racer. These guys surround themselves in their dream world, wishing they could find their idealized-beyond-reality girlfriend who like them in spite of (or even because of) their social awkwardness and lack of hyper-competitive drive in education or career.

As I intimated above, the problem with relationships like this is not that guys like Nisan are doing something weird and off-putting, but that they've almost completely checked out socially in a world where they still have to have social interactions with people. If Nisan were rich and had the technology to upload his brain into a computer where he could just go out on dates with his digital girlfriend all the time, there'd be no problem. But he still has to go to work where he presumably has to interact with other people; he still has to go grocery shopping, ride the bus, etc. So he's still having regular social interactions.

Many of those interactions, I'm sure, are with women -- women who, unlike his pillowcase girlfriend, may have needs and motives of their own, may not say things that he likes, may not think about him romantically, may not give a shit about him at all. Who knows how he treats them? Maybe Nisan's good at separating fantasy from reality to the point where he's able to have a romantic relationship with a pillow without it affecting his real-life relationships, but if he keeps it up, he's going to have a hard row to hoe.

(Repeated for emphasis: He has a romantic relationship with a pillow.)

Fantasizing about being a rock star is not the same as having an imaginary girlfriend who does whatever you want. It's not even remotely in the same league.
posted by hifiparasol at 11:52 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Who said anything about awfulness? It does strike me as more surprising, though, which I suspect is where dortmunder was coming from too.

I guess it's a perspective thing. I think most of the "surprise" is coming from the fact that the people involved in this particular fantasy are Japanese. We're used to American culture being superstitious, so that's not so "surprising" or "foreign".

I'm not really surprised that human beings live in fantasy lands, myself. It's kind of boring to focus on people in this way. If we have to have this conversation about the human condition, let's look at downstream effects, perhaps.

Both parties I mentioned (60% of Americans being superstitious, and a relative handful of pillow-huggers from Japan) live in their respective fantasy lands, but the first of those two is doing a lot more damage than the second.

Once you get over the "weird" part, who are the pillow-huggers hurting? Why do Americans who live in a fantasy land that's not so "weird" get a free pass when their fantasies cause so much hurt to others? Maybe that's why focusing in on the "weirdness" is boring, to me.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:53 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


So if the 2D lovers thought their pillows had real human feelings, that'd make it less crazy?

No, but it would certainly make it more understandable.
posted by dortmunder at 11:53 AM on July 23, 2009


Mach5- I think a reasonable alternative might be something along the lines of "having another human being happily in contact with your genitals and focused on mutual pleasure with you"

Kind of clinical, leaves some stuff out, but hey, I think it's closer.
posted by Hactar at 11:53 AM on July 23, 2009


Is this really that bad a thing? These people hurt no one - literally, since (even though some people in this thread called them pedophiles) they never touched a real-life child. Those are just drawings! Unrealistic, exaggerated superstimuli.

That aside I can completely understand the desire not to get involved in a relationship to avoid getting hurt (again). Why deny them that choice?
posted by PontifexPrimus at 11:54 AM on July 23, 2009


Who's the crazy culture now?

Uh...I still gotta go with the ones publicly dating (and presumably fucking) pillows with images of prepubescent girls on them.
posted by rocket88 at 11:55 AM on July 23, 2009


"Oops, hi! Hey you like [insert name of thing in front of you], too? How funny. Yeah, they're pretty cool. Sorry, hi, I'm Pastabagel. This [insert name of place where you are] is crazy today isn't it?"

ATTENTION OTAKU/NERDS/JAPAN, MEETING HUMAN WOMEN IS NOT THAT HARD.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:55 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


THe first thing I thought of was "I wonder what the thread count is on that pillowcase" and I'm not sure what that says about me but I doubt it's salutary.

Also, do you think he line-dries it? Is his girlfriend dryclean only? So many questions.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 11:55 AM on July 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


I have this feeling that in Japan there is a message board with stories and comments about how weird it is that American's sleep with their guns.

Are you suggesting that the Japanese don't like their gun porn!? (Warning: gun porn)
posted by kid ichorous at 11:57 AM on July 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Once you get over the "weird" part, who are the pillow-huggers hurting?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:53 PM on July 23 [+]


Take a loot at the picture on that pillow again. Every time someone hugs a pillow like that, it adds another microscopic layer of quartz to the glass ceiling.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:58 AM on July 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


At this point, by going further out on a limb like that, you're just openly trolling.

See what I mean? When you ask the Japanese pillow guy, he says "yeah, it's weird". If you dare question in the Invisible Sky Giant, though, watch out!

I don't care if that guy has sex with a pillow any more or less than that you (the Generic Christian, not necessarily you personally) have an invisible friend who wins football games. What I do care about is when *I* have to follow policies that your non-existent friend advocates. Pillow sex guy isn't in charge of policy-making.
posted by DU at 11:59 AM on July 23, 2009 [14 favorites]


And people wonder why white guys do so well for themselves, romantically-speaking, in Japan...

Right, because this sub-niche of a sub-niche is representative of all Japanese males. I know, I know, the Other is weird and scary.
posted by naju at 11:59 AM on July 23, 2009


These people hurt no one - literally, since (even though some people in this thread called them pedophiles) they never touched a real-life child.

I'm having an increasingly difficult time in this thead deciding who is living in the larger realm of fantasy: the person fixated on the image printed on a pillow, or the Metafilter critic who equates a pillow with a cartoon on it with a real-world child.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:01 PM on July 23, 2009


ATTENTION OTAKU/NERDS/JAPAN, MEETING HUMAN WOMEN IS NOT THAT HARD.

Agreed, but I suspect the reason dudes are doing this is because it's way easier than putting up with a human girlfriend who has her own wants, needs, thoughts, ways of expressing herself, etc. These guys understand that it's easy to meet women, just that it's a little harder to get them to do exactly what you want 100 percent of the time.
posted by hifiparasol at 12:01 PM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I blame William Gibson. Please leave Japan alone now William. You've done enough.
posted by GuyZero at 12:03 PM on July 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


When they start selling penis cooking books, make giant cooked penis statues, and there's a sub-culture of American teens that obsess over penis cookbooks I'll start thinking that all Germans are penis-hungry cannibals.
posted by wcfields at 2:41 PM on July 23 [+] [!]


Well, in that case, you know a bunch of Americans are Furry, don't you? Does that mean all Americans are giant Fur suit wearing pervos?
posted by Comrade_robot at 12:04 PM on July 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pillow sex guy isn't in charge of policy-making.

Well, not since the Republicans lost seats in the last election.
posted by Xoebe at 12:04 PM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


...get them to do exactly what you want 100 percent of the time.

I wonder how well cultural conformity correlates with men wanting robot girlfriends. Like: "The government/surrounding culture can tell me what to do, and I'm the 'government' of my personal relationships, therefore I should be able to tell my girlfriend what to do."
posted by DU at 12:04 PM on July 23, 2009


Many of those interactions, I'm sure, are with women -- women who, unlike his pillowcase girlfriend, may have needs and motives of their own, may not say things that he likes, may not think about him romantically, may not give a shit about him at all.

I'm pretty sure Nisan is acutely aware of this--based on the article, it seems like his thought process is less "With this pillow girlfriend, I can act like the all-powerful tyrant I imagine myself to be!" and more "I am such a pathetic fuck that no human woman would have me, so rather than being constantly miserable I'll direct my romantic longings at this pillow."

I feel sad for Nisan and I hope things work out for him. The "Furnace of Child Love," not so much.
posted by DaDaDaDave at 12:09 PM on July 23, 2009


These guys understand that it's easy to meet women, just that it's a little harder to get them to do exactly what you want 100 percent of the time.

Which makes it pretty clear that this is a control thing, sadness aside. A passive aggressive control thing, but still...
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:12 PM on July 23, 2009


Wow, dortmunder, that's a terrible video link to find 'not available in your country due to copyright' on the other end of... I mean, what in the fuck was it a link to that was also copyrighted so as I couldn't see what the fuck it was?
posted by opsin at 12:15 PM on July 23, 2009


Wow, dortmunder, that's a terrible video link to find 'not available in your country due to copyright' on the other end of... I mean, what in the fuck was it a link to that was also copyrighted so as I couldn't see what the fuck it was?

It's the German cannibal bit from the second season of the IT Crowd. I wasn't aware Youtube was blocking videos for copyright reasons.
posted by dortmunder at 12:22 PM on July 23, 2009


According to a government survey, more than a quarter of men and women between the ages of 30 and 34 are virgins...

What kind of societal factors would cause this? Is it related in any way to the Lost Decade and long-standing attitudes towards careers not meshing with new economic realities? Are these people who've put off relationships until they have a (potentially nonexistent) career? Is it something else entirely?
posted by lekvar at 12:31 PM on July 23, 2009


I do wish that, after sex, I could just throw my partner in the washing machine.

I mean, I theoretically could throw him in the washing machine, but he'd be pretty angry about it, and I don't know what temperature would be optimal.
posted by xingcat at 12:32 PM on July 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


Indeed, a lot more Americans not only have an imaginary boyfriend, but he's:

1) invisible
2) lives in the sky
3) all powerful
4) going to keep you alive after you die

Who's the crazy culture now?


Belief in crazy sky giants go back a long ways, and are an accepted part of many people's lives. The history of inanimate objects treated as a (sexually) loved ones probably goes back some ways, but there haven't been wars over whose non-human love partner is better or more real. Invisible sky giants are also invisible, so of course you wouldn't see them. In short: religion is part of human culture that has a very solid history and is widely accepted, whereas replacing people with love objects is more a personal choice, and often seen as a bit crazy or sad.

From there, you can accept and embrace the non-human as a stage in someone's life, or you can cast stones and whatnot.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:39 PM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


METAFILTER : penis-hungry cannibals
posted by liza at 12:39 PM on July 23, 2009


Hey Guys!

It looks like we've got that human overpopulation problem worked out, and we didn't have to wait for super viruses or rising sea levels!
posted by fontophilic at 12:40 PM on July 23, 2009


To state that this guy is fucking a pillow is making quite the assumption. I wouldn't be surprised if he declared that he hasn't yet gotten past second base, but is planning on scoring any day now.
posted by digsrus at 12:42 PM on July 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


This culture gap can only be bridged with a life-size Jesus pillow with textured abs. Your favorite non-threatening, unconditionally loving boyfriend for your daughter. "I believe he loves me." would be a profound religious statement, not something to laugh at.
posted by Free word order! at 12:50 PM on July 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


filthy light thief- The non-human (or rather, imaginary ideal) goes back at least as far as Pygmalion. So, I'd say a couple thousand years or so?

Considering how long this has been going on, I just can't find this too strange. There's more people, there's more media coverage of everything, and people destroy their careers and social lives over obsessions all the time. It's just hit critical mass to become commercially lucrative.
posted by Saydur at 12:50 PM on July 23, 2009


"Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow."

Some people need a pillow for a bosom. Apparently.
posted by papercake at 12:58 PM on July 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


To state that this guy is fucking a pillow is making quite the assumption...

I still wouldn't go anywhere near him with a blacklight.
posted by applemeat at 1:02 PM on July 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm tempted to register "Pillow Sex Guy" as a sockpuppet. "Furnace of Child Love" may not be such a hot idea.
posted by Imhotep is Invisible at 1:02 PM on July 23, 2009


hifiparasol, this is bullshit dude. I read the whole article and I still don't get where we assume that guys who have trouble meeting women are the ones who go out of their way to be disrespectful to women. What the fuck? Maybe they're the ones too frozen with neurotic insecurity about what's appropriate and whether they're worth it etc.

It's a FUCKING PILLOW1 !! It *can't* do everything he wants. What the fuck?

1 literally.
posted by Non Prosequitur at 1:17 PM on July 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


kid ichorus, this:

Because of the moral speculation that is probably inevitable in the presence of the sexually weird, it's worth noting that a) Japan's sex crime rates are lower than those of the United States, and b) the liberalization of pornography in Japan has coincided with broad reduction in sex crimes.

Not necessarily something you can take at face value unless you assume that reported rates of sex crimes genuinely reflects the actual incidence of sex crimes.

Also, are you seriously positing that a high rate of sex crimes is directly traceable to a lack of pornography? Just wondering.
posted by jokeefe at 1:25 PM on July 23, 2009


I do wish that, after sex, I could just throw my partner in the washing machine

We tried that, but every time she climbed into the tub the "Unbalanced" light came on.

"Aha--ha-heeheehahaha"-[SLAP]-"owwwwww"
posted by CynicalKnight at 1:27 PM on July 23, 2009 [4 favorites]



Agreed, but I suspect the reason dudes are doing this is because it's way easier than putting up with a human girlfriend who has her own wants, needs, thoughts, ways of expressing herself, etc. These guys understand that it's easy to meet women, just that it's a little harder to get them to do exactly what you want 100 percent of the time.


That's the thing I can't get over really. Same deal as with Real Dolls. It's just deeply creepy and threatening that there's this version of male sexuality totally wrapped up in a silent, needless, totally passive, and permanently fuckable fantasy. I guess, deep down, I have this niggling little paranoia that that's what all men think about women. I work awfully hard not to let myself believe such a thing, but then I see evidence that it exists in the real world and I have a sort of, "Oh God, they're everywhere!" sort of feeling.
posted by mostlymartha at 1:28 PM on July 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


I wish my potential sex partners came with an "Unbalanced" light.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:28 PM on July 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


I never fucked a pillow, but I once shagged a carpet.

(What can I say? It was the 70s—everybody was doing it!)
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:34 PM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


That should only make sense if you think the only point of a woman is her fuckability martha? I'm not entirely sure how realdolls etc are that different from just imagining you're fucking someone and worrying about how one extracts themselves from the Snapple bottle later.
posted by Non Prosequitur at 1:35 PM on July 23, 2009


mostlymartha - yes, some men are like that, but thankfully they're easily distinguishable from the mass population by their pillows/RealDolls/TAG Body Spray.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:36 PM on July 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I read the whole article and I still don't get where we assume that guys who have trouble meeting women are the ones who go out of their way to be disrespectful to women.

That's a misunderstanding of my argument. I'm not saying guys who have trouble meeting women are automatically going to go out of their way to be disrespectful to them. There are plenty of guys who have trouble meeting women for whatever reason -- physical attractiveness, poor social skills, strict standards, whatever -- who are easily able to have healthy, non-romantic relationships with women.

I'm saying that giving up on women entirely, in favor of a fantasy girlfriend who you literally take out on dates, sleep with, have conversations with, and (presumably) have sex with, is a good first step toward a life where it's impossible to have healthy relationships with real women. This guy isn't simply saying "I can't meet women that I like," or even "I've been hurt so much that I'm giving up on women entirely." He's saying "I'm giving up on women in favor of a fantasy that no woman will ever be able to live up to." Unless he's sexually attracted to pillows (and if that's his thing, more power to him), he's creating an environment that's only going to make things worse for him and the women around him.

It's a FUCKING PILLOW1 !! It *can't* do everything he wants. What the fuck?

No, and a fleshlight can't do everything I want, which is why I don't take it on dates and refer to it as my girlfriend. Nisan seems to have missed this key component of human interactions.
posted by hifiparasol at 1:38 PM on July 23, 2009


NYT article re skinny Manhattanites.

Ha, I know the writer's brother. In her defense, she used to be a chief of the Middle East bureau for the Boston Globe, which I imagine no longer exists.
posted by The Straightener at 1:41 PM on July 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


At 37, Nisan is already balding, and his remaining hair has gone gray. “I can’t eat meat because of my diabetes,” he said, chomping on a forkful of lettuce and okra. “I’m just an unlucky guy.”

Notice the journalistic choice of “chomping.” Makes him sound pretty jolly while he says he has diabetes, doesn't it?

This guy is unlucky. He has the courage to do what he has to do. Do you think when he was younger he envisioned this for himself? He didn't dump his real girlfriend for this pillow; his real girlfriend dumped him, and he turned to this, because he couldn't, or felt he couldn't, attain another real girl. The fact that he has turned to a “silent, needless, totally passive, and permanently fuckable fantasy” I would argue from my armchair, is obviously because he feels like he can't handle any kind of girl with higher self-esteem than that fantasy, because he himself has incredibly low self-esteem. Whatever the cause of this, any “ew-ing” at this guy who is not harming anyone at all is just straight-up bullying.
posted by skwt at 1:44 PM on July 23, 2009 [26 favorites]


On one hand, thats really weird. But he is probably happier than I am when it comes to love (if you can call it that). Five years since I've been on a date...and he has a pillow. I don't know which is worse...
posted by SirOmega at 1:50 PM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, are you seriously positing that a high rate of sex crimes is directly traceable to a lack of pornography? Just wondering.

I think the theory that would attempt to make a bridge from correlation to causation there is that pornography provides an (harmless/less harmful) outlet for urges that might otherwise drive someone to commit a sex crime.

Of course you could also argue that liberalization of pornography and fewer sex crimes are both results of whatever force is causing so many Japanese people to have so little contact with members of the opposite sex.
posted by straight at 1:51 PM on July 23, 2009


That’s when he encountered Sasami, a blue-haired, 10-year-old cartoon character from the anime “Tenchi Muyo!”

Phew! Something that makes my crush on Ryoko less creepy.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:53 PM on July 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


There really is no topic too f'ed up for Mefites not to somehow turn it into LOLXIANS.
posted by rahnefan at 2:23 PM on July 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


jokeefe: Not necessarily something you can take at face value unless you assume that reported rates of sex crimes genuinely reflects the actual incidence of sex crimes.

True, but note that rape is not an outlier; it is consistent with the statistics for murder, robbery, and violent assault, all of which are relatively low in Japan.

Also, are you seriously positing that a high rate of sex crimes is directly traceable to a lack of pornography? Just wondering.

It's interesting to think about, but no - I wouldn't know where to find the data supporting that, though (superficially) the countries with the strongest prohibitions against pornography are notoriously short on gender equity. But I think the University of Hawaii paper does a better job of arguing a related claim: that an uptick in pornographic speech didn't coincide with any increase in sexual assault. As the authors mention, this runs contrary to the recommendations of the Meese Commission. It's similar to the observation that Japan's extensive gun regulation has not resulted in crime run riot - it challenges an assumption rooted in American conservatism with an arguably idiosyncratic Japanese foil.
posted by kid ichorous at 2:26 PM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


He didn't dump his real girlfriend for this pillow; his real girlfriend dumped him, and he turned to this, because he couldn't, or felt he couldn't, attain another real girl. The fact that he has turned to a “silent, needless, totally passive, and permanently fuckable fantasy” I would argue from my armchair, is obviously because he feels like he can't handle any kind of girl with higher self-esteem than that fantasy, because he himself has incredibly low self-esteem. Whatever the cause of this, any “ew-ing” at this guy who is not harming anyone at all is just straight-up bullying.

You're right that he has low self-esteem, and that he deserves support, empathy and compassion. He certainly doesn't deserve mockery or derision.

But he is harming someone. He's harming himself by continuing to feed into his belief that he's so ugly and pathetic that no woman will have him. Look, we've all been dumped. Many of us have been told by people we loved what a shame it would be to ruin the friendship with sex or romance. Lots of us have been passed over for someone prettier, richer, more charismatic. But when that happens, we have a couple of different choices. We can spend some time licking our wounds and eventually realize the benefits of normal, healthy social interaction. Or we can swear off members of the opposite sex entirely in favor of a piece of bedding that represents a fictional character. You tell me which type of person you'd rather have your office populated by.

This guy needs help. I hope he gets it.
posted by hifiparasol at 2:29 PM on July 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's just deeply creepy and threatening that there's this version of male sexuality totally wrapped up in a silent, needless, totally passive, and permanently fuckable fantasy.

Why? It might be dismaying to consider how many women entertain fantasies of rape, but there is a distinction between a fantasy and a sincere desire. I suspect that many of our fantasies - as many tragedies as comedies - are not things that we want in the very least to come true.
posted by kid ichorous at 2:35 PM on July 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Not to single out women on that particular - men report rape fantasies, too, of course.
posted by kid ichorous at 2:37 PM on July 23, 2009


"Oops, hi! Hey you like toilets, too? How funny. Yeah, they're pretty cool. Sorry, hi, I'm Pastabagel. This huge crap you just took is crazy today isn't it?"

I love madlibs
posted by davejay at 2:37 PM on July 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


These poor bastards. My sincere hope is that each and every one of them snaps out of it and soon.

“I was steps away from getting married,” he explained earnestly when prodded about his experience. “You have to make sure you don’t hurt a real person; you have to watch what you say, and you have to keep your room clean. In Japan, it’s not O.K. to like another person if you’re already with somebody else. With an anime character, you can like one character one day and a different character the next.”

Bit of honesty and self-awareness there from Ken Okayama. Basically, this market is fueled by lonely men with an unwillingness and inability (self-perceived or otherwise) to engage in an adult relationship. Seems to me that everyone makes their way through this world trying to balance their courage against their timidity. In the case of these body-pillow enthusiasts and every Real Doll owner to ever walk their mother's basement, timidity has won.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:42 PM on July 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I don't see a problem with fantasies about silent, compliant women, etc. I mean, don't the vast majority of sex fantasies essentially involve partners who unquestioningly do what we want? I think the problem comes in when you decide that if you can't have that, you're going to stop socializing with the opposite sex entirely.

I suspect that many of our fantasies ... are not things that we want in the very least to come true.

I have a whole Christina Hendricks/Beyonce dressing room scenario that begs to differ.

posted by hifiparasol at 2:43 PM on July 23, 2009


I have a whole Christina Hendricks/Beyonce dressing room scenario that begs to differ.

I still haven't forgiven that space-bawd for what she did to Mal.
posted by kid ichorous at 2:50 PM on July 23, 2009


I have a whole Christina Hendricks/Beyonce dressing room scenario that begs to differ.

I'll be in my bunk.
posted by jquinby at 2:53 PM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I still haven't forgiven that space-bawd for what she did to Mal.

I still haven't forgiven Mal for what he didn't do with that space-bawd.
posted by hifiparasol at 2:54 PM on July 23, 2009 [2 favorites]



Why? It might be dismaying to consider how many women entertain fantasies of rape, but there is a distinction between a fantasy and a sincere desire. I suspect that many of our fantasies - as many tragedies as comedies - are not things that we want in the very least to come true.


When you're taking your underaged cartoon sex pillow out on dates and speaking seriously of the deep love between you and said pillow, it's pretty clear the fantasy has entered the realm of things you want to come true.
posted by mostlymartha at 2:55 PM on July 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


ATTENTION OTAKU/NERDS/JAPAN, MEETING HUMAN WOMEN IS NOT THAT HARD.

Actually, I think this thread and the whole "I just don't get those crazy Japanese" feeling to it comes from a misunderstandingof how hard it is to meet human women in Japan. I'm no expert, hell, I've never even been to Japan, but just talking to friends from there, it's staggering how lonely a culture it is.

The statistics everyone is going gaga over means that there are a huge population of Japanese on both sides of the Gender gap who are never going to meet each other. This is not something that would happen in America.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:03 PM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


ATTENTION OTAKU/NERDS/JAPAN, MEETING HUMAN WOMEN IS NOT THAT HARD.

The dude is mentally ill with some sort of anxiety disorder. That it fits in with stereotypes of the otaku set doesn't mean that he's just really, really otaku. Was David Koresh really, really American or was he too simply really, really insane? Give this guy a break. he's about as healthy as a guy with one kidney, no liver and a hole in his heart.
posted by GuyZero at 3:09 PM on July 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I should mention that if we were to somehow quantify mental illness that this guy is way less ill than Mr. Koresh but still pretty ill in the overall scheme of things.
posted by GuyZero at 3:10 PM on July 23, 2009


Definitely. These people are not simply eccentric. They have psychological issues. Not dangerous issues like sociopathy or psychopathy. Nor is it bipolar or borderline or narcissistic or cluster something something whatever, but serious issues nonetheless that make it impossible to socialize in a normal fashion.

Saying "ATTENTION OTAKU/NERDS/JAPAN, MEETING HUMAN WOMEN IS NOT THAT HARD" is completely missing the point. Doing so for some people is not just hard but impossible without a lot of treatment. And maybe not even then. It's like telling somebody with diabetes that metabolizing blood sugar really isn't all that difficult so what's the problem?
posted by Justinian at 3:39 PM on July 23, 2009 [15 favorites]


Here's my completely amateur, armchair sociologist's opinion, based on nothing but these two articles: Part of the problem in Japan is a breakdown of the old social institutions that brought people together, and an absence of anything to replace them. If somebody like this Nisan had been part of a large, extended family with many siblings and several generations of nosy parents, uncles, aunts and grandparents, he may have been pushed into relationships and/or set up with a number of women when he was young, and thus never developed the low self esteem and social phobia issues that have led him to substitute a relationship with a pillow for real human intimacy today. But all of that social strata is gone, and in its place people just leave each other alone (like the father and child in the article who ignored Nisan when he and the reporter were having lunch), so they go quietly crazy.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:23 PM on July 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well, let's not pose as too culturally superior. In nearly any US state this behavior would almost certainly have landed him in a penitentiary cage, not a shrink's office. Whatever invisible barriers Otaku erects in its fetishizing of eccentricity, it can't possibly match the steel and brick we've put into our fear and revulsion thereof.
posted by kid ichorous at 4:23 PM on July 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Looking at the photograph of Nisan I was immediately reminded of the term transitional object (more info about that term). I suspect that Nisan suffers from chronic depression and poor object constancy issues. In his case the transitional object has become a fetish to stave off feelings of abandonment. This pillow thing he has might cause him to be considered a "high level fetishist".

"The transitional object appears in and belongs to infancy, and is generally relinquished when infancy merges into childhood. The fetish, on the other hand, is commonly adopted as a necessary prop or adjunct to insure adequate sexual performance in adult life."
posted by nickyskye at 4:37 PM on July 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


he is harming someone. He's harming himself by continuing to feed into his belief that he's so ugly and pathetic that no woman will have him. . . .

We can spend some time licking our wounds and eventually realize the benefits of normal, healthy social interaction. Or we can swear off members of the opposite sex entirely in favor of a piece of bedding that represents a fictional character. You tell me which type of person you'd rather have your office populated by.

This guy needs help. I hope he gets it.



I agree that he is off on a bad tangent and that he probably needs help. But when people undergo other kinds of social or psychological trauma and, eg, stop going out for a while, or pick up a strange hobby or otherwise become in some way more antisocial than 'the norm', we don't judge them for “harming themselves.” We pity them and allow them to do what they have to do; and if we can, we help them.

More importantly though, it's immaterial and offensive to ask who I'd rather have my office populated by. We would never ask that of someone who had a non-“icky” personal problem. If he was actually a pedophile, sure, but this isn't like that. This is like saying “would you rather have your office populated by leukemia patients or healthy people? Leukemia patients are such downers amirite?” What this guy does is not contagious and it's not immoral. I don't mean to paint you as a fascist because you're obviously sympathetic, but imagine if someone said what you said about someone with AIDS, for example.
posted by skwt at 5:01 PM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ah, I wondered when this article would make it to MetaFilter, what with the whole "OMG JAPAN IS CRAZYBATSHITINSANE" attitude that the article provokes. Incidentally, here's another photo of Niisan from the author's website.

50 percent of men and women in Japan do not have friends of the opposite sex.

This sounds shocking, and may be somewhat hyperbolic, but you need to remember that up until the late 1980s, women were essentially relegated to homemaking and child-raising after getting married. They would then only socialize with fellow housewives living in the same suburban housing complex. Men, on the other hand, worked long hours and then went out drinking with their colleagues afterwards, and were essentially left to their own devices on the weekends. People simply had no opportunity to socialize with the opposite sex after 25-30 or so, when they would get married. This has changed slowly in the last 20 years, but the older generation is still rather gender-limited when it comes to their social circles.

ATTENTION OTAKU/NERDS/JAPAN, MEETING HUMAN WOMEN IS NOT THAT HARD.

You forget, the whole concept of otaku (in the Japanese sense) is someone with poor communication skills who adheres to a subculture, often in a kind of vicious circle. Depending on the way a particular subculture is viewed by society, that descent into isolation can be severe, and making friends at all becomes difficult. (This is different from hikikomori; most otaku have no problem leaving their homes to pursue their hobbies.)

Part of the problem in Japan is a breakdown of the old social institutions that brought people together, and an absence of anything to replace them. [...] But all of that social strata is gone, and in its place people just leave each other alone (like the father and child in the article who ignored Nisan when he and the reporter were having lunch), so they go quietly crazy.

Perhaps, but that is indeed only part of the problem. This so-called "breakdown" has been going on since at least the 1960s, but only in the past ten to fifteen years have the problems of hikikomori and these kinds of extreme otaku come to public attention. Indeed, otaku as a word itself has only been around since the early 1980s. I think that the (sexual? platonic?) fetish of inanimate objects like that described in the article has been "exaggerated" by the influence of the internet and instant communication. After all, if it's just one guy with a pillow, it's just weird; if it's several hundred who have a community of sorts, it's weird *and* notable. It sure gets a lot more attention that way.

Incidentally, I don't actually believe that Niisan has sex with his pillow, although he may well masturbate to it. The concept of moe touched on in the article is not so much sexual as it is a kind of little-sister-big-brother protective/worshipping relationship taken to an extreme, and with fictional characters. I don't think the article does a good job of explaining it, but it's such a nebulous concept that's sort of to be expected, I suppose.

Also, fun side note: Takuro Morinaga is indeed a famous television personality and economist in Japan. He's on TV just about every day and has written dozens of books and weekly columns. He's also a pretty geeky otaku type, with a massive collection of... stuff, but lives pretty darn comfortably. His son is also dating my girlfriend's sister, so they always perk up when he's on television. I, frankly, couldn't be bothered...
posted by armage at 6:08 PM on July 23, 2009 [8 favorites]




I don't really see anything wrong with this. A bit extreme, but harmless.
And definitely not indicative of anything in Japanese society as a whole.
Western news always focuses and zooms in on the weird, strange stuff in Japan.

Also, for the record, while I have not looked into it at all I have a strong feeling that the name "Furnace of Child Love" is an intentionally provocative mis-translation of "Furnace of Young Love", the implications of which are far, far less disturbing when considering that these romance/date anime almost always are about reliving the golden days of teenage youth.
posted by nightchrome at 6:44 PM on July 23, 2009


From what I have read, the stigma of being a rape victim and the attitudes of law enforcement and courts about women and sex crimes in Japan are even worse than in the United States. I'm not saying that it's impossible that fewer sexual crimes take place, but I certainly wouldn't draw that conclusion from any statistics on prosecutions or convictions.
posted by Salamandrous at 6:44 PM on July 23, 2009


I'm not saying that it's impossible that fewer sexual crimes take place, but I certainly wouldn't draw that conclusion from any statistics on prosecutions or convictions.

Sure, but that report was about a drop in Japan, not a comparison with the US. So either sex crimes dropped, or people got _more_ uncomfortable / unwilling to report them. The latter is possible, of course, but if the attitude about reporting is steady, then a drop in reports should mean something.
posted by wildcrdj at 6:48 PM on July 23, 2009


MetaFilter : translates roughly as Furnace of Child Love
posted by JustAsItSounds at 7:16 PM on July 23, 2009


Also, for the record, while I have not looked into it at all I have a strong feeling that the name "Furnace of Child Love" is an intentionally provocative mis-translation of "Furnace of Young Love", the implications of which are far, far less disturbing when considering that these romance/date anime almost always are about reliving the golden days of teenage youth.

Yeah, the term used in the article (youkouro, 幼好炉) seems to be a pun on the word for blast furnace, read identically (溶鉱炉). I'd agree that your translation is better, nightchrome.

For anyone wishing to take a trip through the looking glass, and maybe get on a list somewhere, here's the website for Youkouro, and a Japanese article about the pillow convention that "Momo" likely visited. (first link possibly NSFW, second link NSFW, both links definitely weird)
posted by armage at 7:23 PM on July 23, 2009


Just spitballing, but I wonder if part of the dynamic here is the Japanese (and Korean, of course) group-focused mentality as opposed to the individual-focused construction of identity more common in the west.

By which I mean, I wonder if it makes sense that if you're Japanese and you fall out of the mainstream identity groups, then it doesn't really matter any more how far you go, because you're out, basically, and your natural human need for a way to construct your social identity kind of goes haywire. And further, that if you end up on the outside because of tendencies toward mild autism or sexual peccadilloes (pillow fucker lol etc) or whatever, you are most likely going to find (thanks to the internet, especially) groups of other 'outsiders' that you can join to once again establish a group-predicated sense of self, and that these groupings tend to reinforce and intensify and make even more extreme the things that you felt were cutting you off from the larger social circles in the first place.

I don't know -- just a theory, but it does fit neatly into other theories I have about the fundamental mechanisms behind the different ways folks tend to think here in NE Asia compared to the standard western model.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:42 PM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm going to bookmark this article and read it every time I feel bad about myself. I can read it and go "Hey, at least I'm not using perverted pillow case images of anime characters to fill a romantic void in my life!"

Until that sad, fateful, inevitable day when you go "Hey, at least I'm not using a perverted pillow ca-...oh wait yes I am."
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:43 PM on July 23, 2009


Indeed, a lot more Americans not only have an imaginary boyfriend, but he's:

1) invisible
2) lives in the sky
3) all powerful
4) going to keep you alive after you die



He also hates it when you masturbate, but these pillows are totally up for it.
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:53 PM on July 23, 2009


*off to Japan*

to befriend a lot of lonely Japanese women.
posted by flotson at 8:00 PM on July 23, 2009


Million dollar idea. Someone call up Hasbro and get them to dust off their old stock, I just found an untapped market.
posted by Telf at 8:01 PM on July 23, 2009


PS-- missing the MFUTY tag

More Fucked Up Than You
posted by flotson at 8:05 PM on July 23, 2009


guys, this is cool with me -- and so are you.

so are you.
posted by i'm offended you're offended at 8:24 PM on July 23, 2009


I'm stuck wondering what the 2-d's female counterparts (who, I assume, share the 25% are thirtysomething virgins and 50% have no opposite-sex friends statistics) do to blow off steam. Are there bishonen pillows too? And if there aren't, why are only the guys desperate for affection?
posted by dinty_moore at 8:44 PM on July 23, 2009


Whatever the cause of this, any “ew-ing” at this guy who is not harming anyone at all is just straight-up bullying.

The guy who licks the earwax off his fingers isn't harming anyone, but I can still say ew at him.
posted by Evilspork at 8:56 PM on July 23, 2009


I'm stuck wondering what the 2-d's female counterparts (who, I assume, share the 25% are thirtysomething virgins and 50% have no opposite-sex friends statistics) do to blow off steam.

I think there was another recent "crazy Japan" story about single women who spend their time socializing in groups, going on vacations, and spending all their income of clothes and so on. And then there's yaoi and so on, which as I understand it have large female followings.
posted by jokeefe at 9:24 PM on July 23, 2009


I'm stuck wondering what the 2-d's female counterparts (who, I assume, share the 25% are thirtysomething virgins and 50% have no opposite-sex friends statistics) do to blow off steam. Are there bishonen pillows too? And if there aren't, why are only the guys desperate for affection?

I'm sure they exist, but probably don't take it to the same extreme as men do. Moe is almost exclusively a male phenomenon (though nii-moe or shota-moe by women exist), which, when you consider male sex drive, results in this pillow love. Women also have more options and ways of pursuing affection if they so desire, either simply as otaku or as otaku/participant (i.e. working in a maid cafe, trying to become an Akiba idol, etc.). In addition, it isn't nearly so much of a stigma for a thirty-something woman to be a virgin with only friends of the same-gender as it is for a man.

Also, though this is purely a personal observation, Japanese society is much more forgiving towards women's failures than towards men's. If you're a woman, and you can't get a job or fail at school or something, you can return home and be supported by your family (read: mother). If you're a man, nine times out of ten you get kicked out or given the cold shoulder (by your father) and are forced to fend for yourself socially. I could be mistaken, but I hear about this sort of thing every so often and am struck by how often this happens to men rather than women.

However, in complete contradiction to what I just said, things like this exist. Oyaji-makura, literally "old guy pillow." So who really knows?
posted by armage at 9:36 PM on July 23, 2009


Hmm. Not a lot of posters in this thread have spent time with (non-Westernized) Japanese males. Dominant? Aahhahahahahahahaaaaa.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:49 PM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


No insult intended. I don't mean compared to me. I mean compared to their mates, or would-be mates.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:53 PM on July 23, 2009


Great; so what're the advices to people with extremely low self esteem to make them "right?"
posted by porpoise at 10:18 PM on July 23, 2009


> I'm stuck wondering what the 2-d's female counterparts

Google fujoshi for more information on female otaku.

> I'm sure they exist, but probably don't take it to the same extreme as men do.

Wishful thinking.
posted by PsychoKick at 11:14 PM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


You're just fucking a pillowcase, guys. Don't pretend it's anything more.

Way to completely blow their self esteem.
posted by Balisong at 11:27 PM on July 23, 2009


dfan: "I'm sad that Frank Zappa is no longer with us to write a song about this."

She was a Camarillo Pillow.
posted by team lowkey at 12:34 AM on July 24, 2009


I'm stuck wondering what the 2-d's female counterparts (who, I assume, share the 25% are thirtysomething virgins and 50% have no opposite-sex friends statistics) do to blow off steam.

There's at least one Western female who, instead of pillows, prefers a homemade doll of sorts. (Sadly [or not], most of the links in that first link are now broken. But you can get the jist of it.)
posted by rewil at 1:51 AM on July 24, 2009


If we were reading about this taking place millenia ago, wouldn't we just say that we had a cult of virgins who dedicated themselves to personal female deities represented in fabric idols?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:33 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


"He knows it’s weird for a grown man to be so obsessed with a video-game character"

No - it's weird for a grown man to be so obsessed with a pillow case.
posted by Geezum Crowe at 3:47 AM on July 24, 2009


This is the part where I reveal that my favorite character on my Battlestar Galactica bedsheets was Athena.

God, that felt good to finally admit! Guess I'll be shipping off to Japan now.
posted by orme at 4:45 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


And then there's the old joke about the two African leaders who meet with JFK and then laugh on the way home on the plane: "Kennedy- what a funny name!"

"Normal" is defined by your culture; I'm sure there are some (perhaps many) things I do that would make Nisan wonder at my sanity, in spite of the fact he has no issues with doing an interview about his love affair with a pillowcase. With a child printed on it.

Strange world, yeah?
posted by Pragmatica at 6:11 AM on July 24, 2009


....I've seen and heard things sufficient to make me read this and shrug. Because, honestly, a guy with a pillow is just going into a portion of my brain that currently also hosts:

The story of a guy who posted to a polyamorous community complaining that while his wife was okay with his sleeping around, his girlfriend wasn't -- only to later let slip that his "wife" was a pony and the girlfriend was the human woman who owned the pony.

The story of the two women who created web sites, upon which they pledged wedding vows to the character of Severus Snape from the Harry Potter books -- not the actor Alan Rickman, mind, the character Severus Snape -- and then got into an online fight about who Snape loved more.

The story of the woman who married the Berlin Wall.

The story of the woman who married the Eiffel Tower.

The woman who married a dolphin.

The web site WHICH I AM NOT GOING TO LINK TO FOR ALL OF YOUR OWN SAKES which gives detailed instructions for how to actually have sex with dolphins.

This has all taught me that people's wiring can just get really, really, really weird, and attempting to quantify it in any direction to any extent just isn't possible because honestly, when it comes to getting freaky, the human imagination is way bigger and weirder than any of us realize.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:38 AM on July 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


The story of a guy who posted to a polyamorous community complaining that while his wife was okay with his sleeping around, his girlfriend wasn't -- only to later let slip that his "wife" was a pony and the girlfriend was the human woman who owned the pony.

There's some kind of MeTa in-joke ref in re: ponies and spouses going on here, but I'm too busy boggling.

That said, I can definitely see falling in love with the Eiffel Tower. That's one hot piece of structural engineering.
posted by DU at 7:58 AM on July 24, 2009




There's some kind of MeTa in-joke ref in re: ponies and spouses going on here, but I'm too busy boggling.

The community I link to there, which discusses that incident still considers the phrase "His wife? A horse" to be a touchstone of sorts.

....If you look in the thread I linked you can find some GREAT takes on the "Mr. Ed" theme song.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:01 AM on July 24, 2009


I think there was another recent "crazy Japan" story about single women who spend their time socializing in groups, going on vacations, and spending all their income of clothes and so on.

Was it called Sex And The City by Candace Bushnell?
posted by mippy at 9:22 AM on July 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


But when people undergo other kinds of social or psychological trauma and, eg, stop going out for a while, or pick up a strange hobby or otherwise become in some way more antisocial than 'the norm', we don't judge them for “harming themselves.” We pity them and allow them to do what they have to do; and if we can, we help them.

I can quit Metafilter whenever I want. I just don't want to yet.
posted by jokeefe at 10:11 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whoops. I thought I did the small tag properly there... oh well.
posted by jokeefe at 10:11 AM on July 24, 2009


The web site WHICH I AM NOT GOING TO LINK TO FOR ALL OF YOUR OWN SAKES which gives detailed instructions for how to actually have sex with dolphins.

Hot dolphin!

By far the creepiest thing I ever saw on the Internet was from this Cracked.com article on safe-for-work fetishes, the one with the lady who was really, really into her human-size Statue of Liberty.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:38 AM on July 24, 2009


Together at last...
posted by fcummins at 12:09 PM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, hey, the Times is still in business, but now it's in web form!
posted by Eideteker at 1:18 PM on July 24, 2009




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