Loco in Yokohama is Baye McNeil’s newest book. Known by the foreigner community in Japan by his blog Loco in yokohama he writes books relating his experiences in Japan in first person. If I try to “explain” Japan in my book “A Geek in Japan”, Baye McNeil’s just talks with his heart and sometimes you will feel like he is talking to you while having a drink in a bar.
I’ll let Bay McNeil explain more about his book:
Spend any time on the trains in Japan during crowded rush hour conditions, with your eyes open, that is, and you’ll likely see a chikan (Japanese pervert) it’s such an epidemic here. I see these guys plying their filthy trade on a regular basis, sometimes as often as two or three times a week. As remarkable as this may sound, the most remarkable aspect of these incidents is the response to it by the other passengers, particularly the men. Generally, nothing.
Most of the train companies in the Tokyo/Yokohama area have addressed this problem in a number of ways, most of which are insufficient. Some companies have women-only cars, some have installed cameras, I’ve even heard that sometimes even the police go undercover and ride among the passengers on train lines notorious for these predators to weed them out. Nevertheless the problem persists and is widespread.
In my new book, I describe a couple of the perv episodes I’ve experienced, Below is a story excerpted from the book, Loco in Yokohama, called:
By the Time I Get to Yokohama:
This morning I was on the train checking my email when we pulled into the station. It was packed to the gills and about to get more so judging from the queues on the platform before the door I was facing. I turned around and braced for the surge. And it came.
As usual, the surge swirled around me as much as it could, avoiding making contact with me—like I was an enormous boulder in the path of a stampede—but soon all of the available space outside of the bubble around me was filled by the surge. That is, those who hadn’t decided to make their way to another equally crowded car began to brush against me. Eventually, one man turned completely around and, with his back and putting a little shoulder into it too, dislodged me from my position without apology or acknowledgement.
This was all par for the course. Sometimes, by the time I get to Yokohama, I’ve exercised patience that would make even Job think seriously about atheism.
A high school girl, caught up in this commuter pinball game, was shoved against me. She turned my way, clearly intending to apologize, saw it was a non-Japanese-style human, did a quasi-nod and curtsy combo, took a quick glance to her rear, and then turned back my way looking a little freaked out. She was dressed in the standard fare, a sailor-style uniform with the skirt hiked up pretty high on her thighs. She wore a surgical mask like many people do, probably to avoid spreading germs or catching the flu that was going around. Her eyes and body language were what made it clear that she was frazzled, though.
She was aggressively repositioning herself this way and that, and it took a moment for me to realize it had nothing to do with me—not this time anyway. People often, upon realizing that they’ve been shoved into my vicinity, make strenuous efforts to remove themselves. I discerned that this girl’s efforts were not to evade me, but rather to escape from someone else—the man behind her.
He was the runt of the litter, and not much taller than the schoolgirl. He was dressed in typical “salaryman” fashion with a briefcase in one hand and his cell phone in the other. His eyes were shifty, but his target was clear. There was no stealth to his game. He wanted her and was aggressively wading through the passengers in pursuit.
The girl slid in front of me and sort of peeked around me to see if he would follow, like I was a cornerstone of a building, or a bodyguard. She chose me, of all people. In a car full of her compatriots, she chose me. I wondered if any thought had gone into her decision. Had she had such an experience before, perhaps with this same guy, on this same train, and learned the hard way that Japanese men wouldn’t lift a finger to protect her? If so, that was actually pretty clever of her, I thought. It would be like a woman being stalked yelling “fire” instead of “help me!” And if she had intended to use the Japanese-free bubble around me to dissuade her assailant, that would also indicate some unorthodox outside-the-box thinking on her part, bordering on genius.
I was intrigued as much as disgusted now. I turned just as the pint-sized perv realized what she’d done. His eyes scaled me slowly until he reached my eyes, and froze when his eyes made contact with mine—like a deer caught in my headlights. Maybe something in my eyes indicated to him that I was oblivious to what he was up to, or he was simply lust-driven and wouldn’t be dissuaded, not even by the likes of me. Whatever went through his sick little mind, it told him to keep pushing forward and ignore me because he tried to slide in front of me and position himself between the girl and me.
I wasted no time closing the gap between us. If anyone were paying attention, it might have looked to them like I was the chikan.
Shorty didn’t like that. Maybe he thought I was trying to move in on his action or something. So, he tried some old slick shit and used the continuing surge of boarding passengers and the sharp edge of his briefcase to wedge himself in front of me. This behavior, however, was very noticeable to everyone in the vicinity. However, instead of focusing on him and his oddly aggressive endeavors to get closer to a high school girl, our fellow commuters kept their indirect and suspicious, fish-eyed focus on me— the conspicuous threat.
Foolishness like this always tempts me to throw up my hands and say “fuck it” and let whatever will be just be. And, taking advantage of my moment of indecision, he wedged his arm between his prey and me.
As the train left the station, I could feel his arm between us adjusting with the movements of the train, only with determination. He was re-positioning it, and in doing so, was angling his briefcase into my groin to make space. This motherfucker!
He was on my right side. I was holding a metal strap with my left hand. I switched to a strap on my right side and, as I did, I swung my right elbow low and caught him squarely in the forehead.
It didn’t so much hurt him as it surprised him.
“Gomen nasai,” I whispered and nod/bowed. He ignored my apology, probably sensing that my assault was done intentionally. A perceptive perv.
But his hand didn’t budge.
My elbow was now above his head. My switching hands had actually made his access to the girl easier. I had anticipated he’d back off after I’d shown him my intention to intervene. He hadn’t and, as a result, now had an almost unfettered and well-concealed entree to her.
The train swerved a bit and everyone was tossed to the left, myself included. He apparently had been anticipating the swerve and used it to slide closer to his potential victim. I realized he wasn’t going to use his hands, though. He’d wanted to get directly behind her for some reason. And now he was, as I had been shoved further to her left by the swerve.
I couldn’t see what was going on below, but I could tell by his face that something was up as he was trying much too hard to look nonchalant. The girl had ceased all struggling and jostling and had accepted her fate, whatever it was. She was looking at her cell phone, eyes locked on it. Some of the other passengers would occasionally glance over to check him out, but most kept re-confirming their proximity to me, feeding their curiosities, or relieving their suspicions as to what my motives might have been for being among them.
By the time we got to Yokohama station, I’d had just about as much as I could take of the misplaced suspicion around me. Will these people ever learn?
But, as the doors opened I saw a flash of movement and heard a ripping sound. It looked like the man suddenly snatched something from the girl. Her panties? I’d heard about pervs using scissors and box cutters to slash women’s skirts open, and even of women’s underwear being stolen off of clotheslines, but I’d never heard of pervs pilfering panties in person!
They tussled a bit to separate like their headphone wires had gotten tangled. Then, he tore away from her, making it appear like a classic NY-style purse snatching, but all the girl had was a school book bag and she was still holding that. He’d done something wrong, that was for sure!
As he tried to shove by me and make his exit, I stuck out my foot and tripped him. He lunged forward, but the crowded conditions kept him from falling. He did knock over several people in the process of making his escape, though. Passengers spilled out of the car onto the crowded platform. He stepped on a couple of the fallen people and stepped over a couple of others, but once his feet were on solid ground, he was Usain.
I thought to pursue, but I wasn’t about to climb over fallen people to do it. I watched as he shoved through the swarm of commuters for the escalator. But the girl, she was not as reticent as me. She apologized and pardoned her way through a few people, shoved her way through others, and took off after him. By the time I reached the escalator, the guy was nearly at his top running speed and the girl was hot on his heels. She must’ve run track.
By the time I reached the top of the escalator, I saw a few heads turned in the direction they had run, but the man and the girl were nowhere to be seen.
Though the measures being taken by the authorities here in Japan to address this issue may discourage some of these pervs, personally I think the only deterrent that is fool-proof is the public’s involvement. Currently, as I described in the story above, the public would sooner turn a blind eye on this plague than get involved and protect vulnerable members of their society from predators. If this attitude doesn’t change, if this tendency to not get involved with matters that don’t directly affect one’s well being doesn’t shift, then these sexual assaults will continue to mar the lives of women interminably
You can buy Loco in Yokohama through Amazon (Kindle or Paperback) Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers worldwide.