Now ashore, I observe the residents of this northern island as being extremely open, warm, and friendly. You would not connect these gentle and almost naïve (the girls giggle at everything) folks with a government which acts with different manners. I wonder how our respective governments run a second reality so vibrantly dissimilar to the people they allege to represent. But it’s like that everywhere. The public face is that of demurity, genuflection, and humility. But one of the quickest routes to understanding any culture he is to abandon the tourist brochures and had out on foot.

The local Internet café is nothing like what you would find in Europe for other places where you might seek pay-for-play web access. In fact, the Internet café was the upstairs area of a karaoke lounge. But karaoke does not necessarily mean crooning to background music.

Here on the island of Hokkaido, the karaoke lounge also contains porn movies and more. Upstairs, with the Internet “café” resides, there is much, much more. In order to send an e-mail, you have to let them copy your passport. This seems highly totalitarian and ridiculous at first glance. But to understand that the Internet café he is not a computer screen or a workstation, but a private cabin in which food and companionship are served. The purpose for the passport copy is as routine as it would be when checking into a hotel — because they mean for you to “use” the private room.

As you can see, actual Internet usage is an official excuse or a legal loophole to allow this kind of enterprise to operate in the open. There is no WiFi or any real Internet amenities — one is limited to the proprietary Windows PC in each cabin. Much like when peanuts are served in bars, those bars get restaurant status and attendant tax waivers and code waivers because they serve “food”.

The Japanese, it turns out, are terrifically kinky. Inside this Internet café there are pictures of schoolgirls in their uniforms. Knee socks and ponytails abound in pederastic bliss. The place as a steady flow of Japanese businessmen, quite clearly needing to check their e-mail, for why would so many travel the distance to an Internet café in between appointments? Even the vending machines here contain product beyond that the fizzy Coca-Cola and a Mars bar. One of the selections for only ¥800, is used girl’s underwear for one’s olfactory pleasure. There must be an obvious culture of panty sniffers — huffing the molecular artifacts hot cotton-on-flesh action. __________________