At dinner with five British friends, a spark suddenly sizzles through the conversation. There are entire shops dedicated to the selling of condoms, regular DVD shops which only retail the one variety of DVD, and seemingly innocent home depots which display plastic phalluses so big I could dress one up in 4-year-old’s clothing and push it around in a pram for a few weeks before anyone would be any the wiser. In such an apparent and blatantly sexual society, why is nobody breeding? It is an exciting world, this one, so different to our own, where a brief glimpse of underwear seems to entertain the masses for hours. And it is in many ways everything I had giggled, exaggerated and hinted at with friends when the words were too shocking to utter. We wade our way through fact and theory, offering in turn Chinese whispers about the contents of vending machines, the vessels from which businessmen can eat their sushi, and the fake nipples you can insert under your T-shirt to give the appearance of a constant erection.
Measures are underway to ensure that the country does not evolve into a giant nursing home.
But in spite of the fact that the government is offering monetary incentives to young married couples, and that businesses are enforcing compulsory holidays, the percentage of children being born into the new generation is not increasing rapidly enough.
With just an average of 1.39 children born per Japanese female, it’s time to take a look at the root causes of why such a randy bunch of Asians can’t get down and do it.
Tokyo exemplifies the coexistence of innovation and tradition.
Now, more than ever, with the proportion of people above the retirement age reaching astonishing heights, there is an ever pressing need for this.
The pressure to get married is a predominant conversation topic for females as young as 14.
The idea of women as “Christmas cakes”—an item which begins to decline after its use-by date of the 25th—still pervades, and the desperation to get married before this “spoiling age” is visibly apparent in Japanese social circles.
Outside the boundaries of the capital, however, it’s the time honored values which hold a much stronger visible presence.
The family home is the most perceptible manifestation of these continuing traditions, with practices arguably proceeding beyond their relevancy date.